81. St Mary's Binsted
This small Norman church was built c.1140 by the monks of Tortington Priory. It lies in the middle of farmland just south of the A27 before you get to Arundel. It has an attractive wood shingled bell tower whilst the walls of the nave are supported by five buttresses.
Until 1950 the church was only lit by oil lamps and candles.
The most interesting features of the interior are the two medieval wall paintings on the splays of the north window of the chancel. One shows a triple branched tree signifying the Tree of Life or possibly the Holy Trinity, whilst the other portrays the only known painting of St Margaret of Scotland who was canonised about the time the church was built. Descended from the Anglo-Saxon Royal House she was married to King Malcolm III of Scotland who was killed fighting against William Rufus of England in 1093.
She is shown wearing a yellow crown and a wimple and wearing a red cloak. Most of the pigment has now turned to black. A star is shining above and red scalloped patterns are depicted around the edges of the window. An unexpected find in a rural Sussex church.
Two small lancet windows either side of the chancel are very pleasing, one portraying St Stephen and the other St Lawrence. The east window is Victorian and shows Christ the Shepherd and the Feeding of the Five Thousand. The west end window shows the Straker crest commemorating Edward Straker who died in 1825.
There is a fine timbered roof dating from the restoration of 1867. The floor of the nave is tiled in red, whilst the chancel tiles are patterned resembling Venetian and Florentine pavement designs. The large decorated font is Norman whilst the lectern of impressive size was designed at the end of the 19th century by Sir George Greenhill, a Professor of Mathematics at Woolwich. It was presented to the church by the Rev William Drury who was Rector in the 1930's. An embroidered picture of the church hangs down from the lectern and a painting of the church by local artist Arthur D'Albutson hangs on the north wall.
A Queen Anne prayer table, once in Slindon House, stands at the back of the church. All the nave windows are of plain glass.
Prior to the restoration of 1867 there was a gallery and a ceiling. Sadly a number of medieval wall paintings covering the walls were allowed to perish and nothing now remains. But two modern touches are supplied by 80 embroidered kneelers made by the Friends of the church and a beautiful wooden carving entitled Gethsemene by Norman Vandell.
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