East Dean Church - a short history
The Church of St Simon and St Jude
Christian worship has been offered here for more than a thousand years. The earliest parts of this church building are the 10th century tower and the nave from the chancel steps to the organ (11th century).
The Grade I listed building is of 11th Century origin with additions over several centuries, the last being an extension to the west in 1962 part of which serves as a baptistry.
There are many interesting features within the building. The roofs in the chancel and nave are of the 15th Century and have fine king posts. Other important features include the 19th Century Norman style font, 14th Century Holy Water Stoup, Jacobean pulpit and various monuments e.g. a 13th Century Sepulchral Cross slab and two 18th Century tablets to former churchwardens.
There is an ancient aumbry – or recess for church vessels – to the right of the pulpit, and the broken holy water stoup at the entrance to the church. These stoups were placed at the door of churches to hold holy water. People would dip a finger of their right hand in the water and make the sign of the cross on their way into or out of the church.
The chancel, 13th century, is built at an angle to the nave, possibly for truer orientation. The outline of the 13th and 14th century windows, the former lancet, may be seen, probably filled in to strengthen the walls when the large east window replaced the lancets there.
An inscription under the pulpit ledge dates it at 1623, the Jacobean period.
The broken tombstone near the vestry entrance bears the arms of the Bardolf family, holders of Birling Manor in the Middle Ages.
The extension of the church from the organ to the baptistery was completed in 1962. The font has been built around a fragment of the 11th century font and placed on the ancient pedestal recovered from the Tiger Inn in 1885, where it had been used as a mounting block.
The hassocks are the work and contribution of parishioners.
Registers date back to the middle of the 16th century.
The organ, built in 1960, was given by the Revd. and Mrs. R.W. Burns-Cox in memory of their son.
There is an unusual Tapsell gate as at Friston.
The church is much more than a building however. It is a living community of faith at the heart of the village, where we seek to worship God and discover how being disciples of Jesus Christ affects the way we live. You are very welcome to join in!
Revd David Baker
This page last modified on: 01 February 2010