The history of Coombes

Coombes Church is a Church of England parish church in the rural hamlet of Coombes in the Adur District of West Sussex, England. It has served the rural parish, northwest of Shoreham-by-Sea and next to theRiver Adur, since the 11th century. Despite several rebuildings, some structural elements remain from that period. An important series of wall paintings, dating from the 12th to the 18th centuries, were uncovered in 1949. English Heritage has listed the church at Grade I for its architectural and historical importance.

Coombes parish church, whose original dedication has now been lost (although it has been attributed to John the Baptist), existed at the time of the Domesday Book. At that time it was a simple flint building in three parts: chancelnave and a tower at the west end. It was built so far into the rising land of the hillside that the base of the west window was just above the ground. The building was added to and altered several times over the next few centuries in a manner that Ian Nairn described as a "century-by-century accretion of piety".

Most of the nave, its south doorway and the chancel arch are Saxon but the chancel was rebuilt in the early 13th century and a priest's doorway was added. In the 14th century the nave windows were altered, but one 12th-century window survives in good condition. In the 15th century two new windows were added to the chancel, flanking surviving a Norman door. A porch was built on the south side of the nave in the 16th century, incorporating the original entrance doorway into the nave.

The church suffered a near-total collapse in the early 18th century: the tower at the west end fell down, bringing most of the nave and chancel down with it. The congregation was allowed to rebuild the nave itself (shortening it in the process) and the chancel was rebuilt soon afterwards. Around the same time a tile-hung bell-turret was added at the west end. The church, unlike many in Sussex, was not restored or reconfigured during the Victorian era.

Coombes Church was listed Grade I by English Heritage on 12 October 1954. Such buildings are defined as being of "exceptional interest" and great national importance. As of February 2001 it was one of seven Grade I listed buildings and 119 listed buildings of all grades in Adur District.

The Holy Eucharist is celebrated on 2nd Sunday of the month at 9.00 a.m. Worship is in a traditional Church of England style

Churchwardens are: Mr Robin Reeve 01273 452497, Mrs Mary Passmore 01273 452028

PCC Secretary: Mrs Sarah Molloy 01903 204697

Treasurer: Jenny Flake 01273 440336

 


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