Page:Notes on the churches in the counties of Kent, Sussex, and Surrey.djvu/338

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278
NOTES TO SUSSEX.

Rottingdean, lying among the Downs about two miles northwards from the church. In a conspicuous position here stands a small ancient building, still called "The Chapel," and which was converted to the uses of the farm as a stable only about seventy years ago, that is, about A.D. 1780, within the recollection of my informant, who deceased April 1845, aged 80 years; though divine service had not been performed there, certainly for a long period, probably for centuries, previously. At the time of the alteration of the chapel some of the surrounding ground was lowered, when interments were disturbed ; which is a tolerable proof, that the building had long been used for sacred purposes, and likewise had been, as such, in considerable estimation, otherwise burials there would not have been sanctioned. Externally the chapel measures about 33 feet long by 20 wide. The walls are of flint, with stone dressings partially at the eastern angles, as well as in the window and door. The south wall offers some marks of having been rebuilt at an early date from a little above the ground. The roof is now thatched, and probably never was otherwise: it has three tie-beams, with king-post and braces, still in excellent preservation, as the rafters likewise (all the old timber is oak) generally appear to be. The slight attempt at ornament on the king-posts seems to be of Dec. character. There is no indication of the chapel having ever possessed a bell suspended on or above the roof. In the northern side was one small round-headed window; whether there ever was one in the opposite side the altered condition of the wall renders uncertain, though it is most probable there was. In the north side are also traces of the former existence of a low door, rather wide in proportion to the height, and seemingly flat-headed with a lintel; but it was closed so long ago, that a minute examination of the interior of the wall, together with an intimate acquaintance with such subjects are required to enable one to ascertain the original form. The chapel stands at right angles to the course of the valley, and its position is about E.S.E. and W.N.W. by compass.[1]

  1. With regard to the idea that the orientation of churches "originated from, and was fixed by, the point in the horizon, on which the sun arose on that saint's day, in honour of whom such church was dedicated" (Bloxam's Goth. Archit. 298, notee), I greatly doubt whether this is more than mere imagination. Certainly in the only instance, in which I endeavoured to verify the notion, it was disproved by fact, since the building faced N.E., when it ought to have pointed S.E., because the saint's day connected with it was in the autumnal half-year. (See Mr. Bloxam's quotation as above from Sir Henry Chauncy's Historical Antiquities of Hertfordshire) If indeed any church in question, in consequence of having been rebuilt or extensively repaired, has been rededicated to a different saint from that first selected, which occasionally or not (infrequently happened, the guide must of course be the anniversary of the original, not that of the subsequent, patron.