8. St Nicholas, West Itchenor
Itchenor is well known today as a centre of yachting on Chichester Harbour. The name derives from Icca, a Saxon chief who settled here, and 'ora', a Saxon word for a bank on the shore. The small, but immensely attractive church of St Nicholas is set on a small hillock beside the road leading to the harbour.
Dating from the late 12th century it is a rectangular building only 50 feet long and 16 feet 6 inches wide, with no structural division between the nave and chancel. The oldest furnishing in the church is the octagonal font of the 13th century set on four subsidiary columns on a moulded base. The roof, the stained glass and almost all other furnishings date from this century. All this work is of fine quality and the beauty of the church has been much enhanced.
In the north wall of the nave is a fine memorial window to George Goldsmith who died in 1941 whilst serving in the National Fire Service, depicting the figures of St Michael and St George. A 13th century lancet window close by has glass in memory of Francis Duckworth, a teacher and Inspector of Education, showing the arms of his college, Trinity, in Oxford, and also the arms of Eton College and Rossall School where he taught.
The impressive modern glass of the three lancet windows behind the altar was designed by Christopher Webb in memory of Sir Andrew Caldecott G.C.M.G., C.B.E. who died in 1951. Mainly based on the theme of the Benedicite, it also has references to Hong Kong, Malta and Ceylon where Sir Andrew spent his career. Other scenes depict musical instruments, a winter scene showing skaters, with a fox running below, as well as a windy autumn day. This is a carefully structured window which repays careful study.
In contrast the lancet windows on the south wall of the Sanctuary are of plain glass and give a wonderful warmth and light to the chancel on a sunny day. On the south wall of the nave is an interesting World War Two memorial window for a Fleet Air Arm pilot Sub Lt. Malise Graham R.N.V.R. lost on patrol over the Mediterranean in 1942. The main panels show St Christopher and St Nicholas of Bari, whilst a small window underneath has a Swordfish plane in flight.
A fine wooden gallery was built at the west end in 1964 as a War Memorial to the men of Itchenor. This almost hides two other stained glass windows, a small roundel high up in the west tower wall and below a colourful memorial to Jeremy Oundijan made by Anne Gordon in 1992. The theme is the Resurrection. Lovely greens and browns predominate. A Display Cabinet nearby contains a Book of Remembrance as well as the 'Annals of Itchenor' recording much of the parish history.
When the church was re-floored in 1960 a ledger stone was discovered inscribed Anna, wife of Murdoch MacKenzie. He was a naval lieutenant who, as Admiralty Hydrographer surveyed Chichester Harbour in the 1780's. A copy of his chart of the harbour hangs in the vestry. From the outside the spire and bell-cote, re-shingled in sweet chestnut in 1989, and resting on two big buttresses, catch the eye. Note also the unusually large niche in the west wall of the tower. Three bells hang in the tower, two dating from the seventeenth century whilst the treble was made by John White of Reading in 1530.
All in all a church in which to linger and a great credit to the many 20th century artists and craftsmen who have added to the beauty of the medieval building.
written by John Symonds
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page last updated 4 MAY 1997