More about St Mary's
Details of the complicated descent of the advowson will be found in The Victorian History of the County of Sussex, vol. 4 (1953), pp. 103, 104; the Duke of Richmond and Gordon has been the patron since 1877 [See page 10 for a list of patrons]. Of the clergy, mention may be made of Richard Batsworth, "a man of low stature, very violent for the rebels, and a plunderer of the royalists . . . He had some learning, a great deal of chicanery, though seldom more than one coat, which for some time he wore the wrong side out (its right side was seen only on Sundays), till it was almost worn out . . .".
Baptism of Christ
Baptism: a painting for St. Mary’s, East Lavant.
In many traditional depictions of the Christian stories, artists made the narrative more accessible by seeing it through the eyes of their own time and place. The familiar setting and local details meant that people could identify with the events and see the stories more easily in terms of their own lives.
I hoped that by setting Jesus’ Baptism in the context of the landscape around Lavant, I could create this sense of an immediate connection to an event that can seem geographically and historical remote, and yet also use familiar local imagery to meditate on the more timeless, symbolic dimensions of the event.
Blake's Jerusalem - according to local tradition inspired by local scenery- also suggested to me not only the idea of Jesus “in England’s pleasant pastures seen” but of the “Countenance Divine… shining forth upon our clouded hills”.
In commissioning the painting the Rector told me to be guided by the Holy Spirit - so having found my starting point I let the painting take its own course as I attempted to weave the many strands together, meditating on its meaning as I did so. As in many of my other works, I introduced elements from traditional artworks: the figure of Jesus was adapted from a painting of Christ crucified by Velazquez; and among others, the works of Gauguin, Constable, Turner, and Leonardo made their influence felt as the painting progressed.
On the left hand side of the picture is the distant figure of a local shepherd who has been washing his sheep in the river Lavant, as was the tradition up until very recently (hence “Sheepwash Lane”). So the painting could perhaps be seen as the shepherd’s daydream, imagining Jesus- described by John the Baptist as the “Lamb of God” - undergoing ritual “cleansing” in his Baptism by John.
Baptism is a symbolic washing away of spiritual “dirt”, of all that is superfluous in us; only our quintessential humanity remains. It is an implicit recognition of our limitations, our frailty- and yet also of the loving core that is laid bare once the legacy of our less-than-perfect worldly interactions has been stripped away.
The composition links the narrative of Jesus' Baptism with the temptations that follow it in the Gospel narrative. These show Jesus going through a spiritual trial that puts to the test the divine love that was symbolically revealed and divinely sanctioned at his Baptism. He has to choose between being self-serving or God-serving;
and in choosing the latter Jesus remains spiritually “clean”: he resists his meaner human impulses, and yet remains within his human limitations. This loving, selfless humility is expressed by Jesus’ outstretched arms, simultaneously embracing and offering himself up; for the pose also suggests the ultimate self-sacrifice of crucifixion.
Below Jesus’ right hand, the stony river bank suggests the first temptation: to turn stones into bread- the human desire to take the easy road, and to pursue worldly needs and desires before serving God.
In the background, the summit of the Trundle can be seen as the high place to which Jesus is taken during the second temptation, to survey the world that could be his, with some distant Spitfires above suggesting the enticing thrill of worldly power over others, and over Creation itself.
In the sky to the right the ghostly image of Chichester cathedral spire suggests humanity’s heavenward aspirations, but it also brings to mind Jesus’ third temptation: to put God to the test by throwing himself from the pinnacle of the temple- in effect to see God as there to serve humanity instead of vice-versa.
The arching rainbow links the New Testament symbolism of the Baptism to that of the Old Testament: in the story of Noah it appeared as a miraculous sign of hope following the “cleansing” of humanity by the waters of the flood, marking a covenant linking Earth and Heaven, a connection that would become truly complete in the person of Jesus.
Above the rainbow, a large glowing disc suggests the Heavenly realm, like a glimpse to another dimension. Within it we glimpse a flickering, elusive image of the eternal face of Divine love. The light emanating from it can be seen as the mediating presence of the Holy Spirit, forming a direct connection to the human Jesus below, guiding his humanity along the true path within the distracting world of earthly temptations.
As the most tangibly realistic element in the painting, the figure of Jesus forms a direct link with the congregation, his arms held out as though to embrace us all; and so people looking at the painting are invited to be involved, as witnesses gathered at this symbolic Baptism, seen as an event happening in the context of their own local time and place, and relevant to their own lives.
My own ideas about the picture changed as I painted it, and might well develop further over time. Each person who sees the picture will interpret the painting in their own way, and so, in a sense, it is completed by those who stand before it, who bring to it their own life experiences and, hopefully, find new meanings that I did not foresee.
You can see further examples of Richard's work on his web-site here http://www.richardwhincop.co.uk/ in addition here's a link to the movie made about the creation of this work: https://vimeo.com/54183780
The Chancel was entirely rebuilt in the 19th century (before 1815); an organ chamber was subsequently added in the north side and a clergy vestry in the angle formed by the chancel and the tower on the south. Only the core of the chancel arch retains any 12th century work. The stone reredos is particularly ornate and beautiful and one row of the choir stalls includes wonderful misericords.
North side, stone tablet to Selwyn Leighton Buckwell , rector of East and Mid Lavant, 1925-1960, prebendary of Sidlesham in Chichester cathedral, 1945-1960, Canon Emeritus, 1960-1968; d. 1 Jan. 1968.
Chancel East Window
Window, by Powell of London, memory of Elizabeth , wife of Richard Combe Miller, of The Grange, Chichester; she was born 20 June1838 and d. 22 October 1901.
Alabaster memorial, enclosing a brass plate, to Jane Henshawe, wife of Joseph Henshawe, D.D., Canon Residentiary of Chichester cathedral, rector of East Lavant, Dean of Chichester and Windsor, and finally Bishop of Peterborough. Jane, the daughter of John and Elizabeth Maye, d. 3 February 1639, 'not in her thirtieth year'. Her husband d. 9 March 1678/9, in London, aged 76, and was buried beside his wife. At the top of the monument are the arms, Quarterly, 1 and 4, Argent, a chevron between three heronshaws [or mallards depending on the precise representations of the birds] sable, legged gules (for Henshawe ); 2 and 3, Argent, a cross between four fleurs- de-lys sable (for Wistow); the crest is missing. At the base of the memorial are the arms of Henshawe impaling May(e), Gules, a fess between eight billets or.
Black and white marble tablet to Honor Anne, daughter of the Rev. Henry Legge and Elizabeth Louisa his wife, born 13 August 1832, d. 6 June 1837.
In the floor: smallstones inscribed E[lizabeth] L[ouise] L[egge] and H[onor] a[nne] L[egge].
The east window (modern, replacing one of three lancets under a common arch) is filled with glass, in memory of Elizabeth Louisa Legge, given by her husband and sons in 1877.
Under the altar is a floor slab, much worn, having at the head an incised shield of arms, Quarterly, 1 and 4 [Gules] a chevron vairy [sable and argent] between three mullets [of the last], for Stockton; 2 and 3 [Argent] a chevron [ermines] cotised [sable] between three annulets [gules], for Clutton. The Latin inscription on the slab is to Owen (Eugenius) Stockton, rector of East Lavant, 1612-1635, Prebend of Eartham, 1614-1615, and of Sutton, 1615-1634, and Canon Residentiary of Chichester cathedral. He d. 17 Oct 1635, aged 58. He claimed descent from the Stocktons of Stockton in Cheshire. The original inscription is partially obscured by a copy of it on a substantial brass plate.
Chancel - South Window
Chancel - Lavant Churches
South side. Stone tablet to Elizabeth Crooke, d. 22 Dec. 1736, aged 27.
Stone tablet to Mary, daughter of the Rev. Thomas Heath and Elizabeth his wife; she was received into Christ's church, 8 Sept.1762, " And we trust into his Kingdom The day following Having continued here but one Month".
A window, said to be by Kempe, depicting the story of Gehazi, in memory of Richard Gaisford, the elder of twin sons, born 21March 1870; d. 4 April1881.
Stone tablet to Colin Pryor, chorister and server, who died as a result of an accident, 26 July 1949, aged 14.
On the north side of the chancel is a range of misericords, carved (reading from west to east) as follows:
A man wearing a cap; on the left-hand side a double-tailed frog or lizard; on the right, a conventional leaf.
A mitred headbetween two Tudor-style roses.
Conventional stiff-leaffoliage branching from a common stem.
A man wearing a round cap; on either side a shield charged with a cross.
A man wearing a flat bonnet; on either side, a Tudor-style rose.
Four of the elbow-rests between the stalls are carved with human faces and two with conventional foliage. All this woodwork is of 15 th century date.
The organ is a fine instrument by William Hill & Son, of London, 1895 – it was restored in 2006 at a cost £29,601; the priest's desk is a memorial to Llewellyn Paxton, son of Col. Llewellyn and Mary N Paxton, who was killed in action at Thaba' Nchu, South Africa, 16 Nov. 1900, aged 19.
There are no old fittings in the church; the roofs are all of 19 th century date.
Nave - West Window
The Nave has a west wall and half of the south wall of 12 th century date; the doorway is of that date and above it is a 15th century window, with modified Perpendicular tracery, filled with glass given by Charles Egerton Legge in 1880 in memory of his father, Henry, and his brother, William Douglas. The font is 19th century and replaces a 12 th century square basin which rested on five shafts. Nearby, in a glass case are three flutes and a pitch-pipe; one flute, made by Bland & Weller, was played by William Mitchell (1805-1859), the leader of the church band and choir; another (also by a London maker whose name is indistinct) is said to have been played by Thomas Wackford in 1824 (he was born in 1807); a third flute, by Whitaker & Co. Of London, 1821, belonged to Arthur J. Bridle; the pitch- pipe was the property of William Mitchell. In the south wall of the nave are two windows; the westernmost was inserted in 1671, the other in the 19th century and contains glass in memory of Rachel Mary Theobald (1870- 1959). On this south wall are the following memorials, reading from west to east:-
Stone tablet to the 27 men of this parish who were killed in the 1914- 1919 war [see list here].
Stone tablet to Col. Edgar Thomas Inkson , VC, DSO, churchwarden for 13 years; d. 19 Feb 1947.
Stone tablet, with the badge of the Royal Sussex Regiment, to William Edward Sydney, son of Rowland and Maude Paget, killed in action in Eritrea, 8 April 1941.
The centre aisle of the nave is paved with floor slabs which, reading from east to west, are memorials to:-
John Compton, gent., son of Richard and Joan, d. 26 August 1781, aged 75; Ann, his sister, d. 4 Nov. 1788, aged 63; Edward, gent., brother of John and Ann, d. 7 Nov 1788, aged 71.
John Compton, d. 30 March 1719, aged 81.
Ann, wife of John Compton, d. 1 [rest gone] and Thomas Compton [buried 8 July 1737].
Between slabs 1 and 2 is a nail driven into the crevice; the story of this is that 'a drunken atheist one night boasted that he was going into the church, and there loudly proclaim his disbelief, driving a nail into the floor as evidence of his feat. He was found dead there the next morning, having driven the point through his smock, and thus unable to rise from his knees'. The man obviously died from fright.
The arcade separating the nave from the north aisle retains one 13th century circular column between the second and third bays. 'The first and forth bays reproduce the design of the ancient responds, and were pierced in the 19 th century through what was formerly a solid wall east and west of the arcade'; the pointed arches are of two orders. Above the easternmost arch hangs a carved and painted example of the Royal Arms as used between 1603 (accession of James I) and 1688 (end of the reign of James II), except for the period of the Commonwealth; they were also probably used from 1702 (death of William III) until 1707 when the arrangement of Royal Arms was altered as a consequence of the Union with Scotland.
Book of Remembrance
The images shown in the book below were taken in 2017 so any additions since then are not included.
The North Aisle has a west wall of 13th century date with an original lancet window; the remainder of this part of the church and choir vestry dates from the 19thcentury. The following identifiable floor slabs are in the aisle:-
1. With incised skull at the top, to Nicholas Mant, sen., d. 25 Dec. 1716, aged 64, and his wife Ann, d. 26 Feb. 1731, aged 82.
2. Ann, wife of William Mant, d. 19 Nov. 1722, aged 27; her unnamed son [William], d. 17 [buried 22] Nov. 1722, in his infancy; William Mant, d. May 1730, aged 49.
3. Thomas Hebberden, infant son of Thomas and [illegible], d. 4 Aug. 1720, aged 1 year 3 months.
4. Thomas Hamman, d. 23 April 1689; William Hamman, d. 16 April 1733, aged 17; and another, illegible.
5. William, son of William and Frances Mant, who d.  in his infancy.
6. Nicholas, son of William Mant, d. 12 March 1719.
7. Qu. Nicholas Mant [buried 27 Dec. 1716].
8. Ann, wife of John Heberden [buried 11Oct.] 1756.
9. A slab carved with an elaborate foliated cross.
10. A slab of Sussex marble, carved with a less elaborate cross than that on no. 9, but with a marginal inscription in Lombardic characters: Priez qi passez par ici pvr l'alme Lvci de Mildebi.
11. Mary, wife of Thomas Compton, d. 20 May 1711, aged 28.
The east window in the north aisle is filled with glass in the memory of Mary Norman Paxton; in the same wall is inserted a small hollow-moulded corbel.
The South Tower, we pass in front of the chancel arch and over a floor slabto:
Anthony Crompton, gent., d. 21 May 1681; Richard Crompton, gent., d. 3 Nov. 1740, aged 66; Joan, wife of Richard Crompton, d. 18 Feb. 1781, aged 93.
The tower is entered by a modern arch of two orders which replaces a brick arch, removed in 1863. In the west wall is a blocked doorway; near it is a brass plate inscribed: Gulielmus Westbrooke hoc fecit Anno Domi 1671. Also on this wall are memorials:
Oval stone tablet toMary, wife of Charles Owen Cambridge married in this church, 26 July 1787 and d. 14 Feb 1788.
to the nine men of this parish who were killed in the 1939- 1945 war [see list here].
The window in the south wall of the tower is in memory of Edward Pigott Cooper Johnson (1853-1875); below is a fine, modern altar of polished stone carved with a pelican in her piety - a sacred character typifying maternal solicitude. In the east wall is a recess accommodating a 14 th century tomb displaced from the north wall of the chancel when the organ chamber was built. This tomb has dwarf shafts carved with foliage, and a moulded segmental arch with four openwork cusps, now broken, defaced figures at the extremities and slender pinnacles above them; the tomb is finished with a straight-sided pediment with foliaged crockets and finial. When it was in the chancel, this tomb probably served as an Easter Sepulchre, but it now shelters an early coffin slab with hollow mouldings which was found in the chancel floor and was in the churchyard for some years before being placed in its present position.
There are four floor slabs in the tower:
To a member of the Heberden family, but now illegible.
John Heberden, d. [?] 4 Jan. 1735, aged 54.
Ann, wife of Thomas Booker of Steep, daughter of John Heberden, d. [?] 2 May 1765.
In remembrance of Jean Margaret "Peggy" Coltart, 14 Jan 1910 - 7 March 1979, a true friend of everyone in this Parish. From the many memorial gifts the work of repair to this chapel was completed.
The single bell is inscribed, 'G Mears & Co Founders London + Let them praise the name of the Lord'; the old bell, inscribed 'Gvilielmvs Eldridge me fecit 1673', was recast
World War 1
The memorial to the fallen of World War 1 fixed to the south wall of the Nave is inscribed as follows:
To the Glory of God
And in Grateful Memory of
The Men of this Village
Who Laid Down Their Lives,
In the Great War of, 1914-1919
Pte M Ring RAMC
Pte W Pescott R Suss R
Troop. H Morton Suss Y
L. Stoker J Hayler HMS Hampshire
L Cpl W G Tupper R Suss R
C.S. Maj F Stubbs R Berks R
Cpl A C Stapley D of Corn L I
P. Officer E C Kerley HMS Iron Duke
Pte H Smith R Fus
Pte L C Small T. Reserve
Pte C H Bleach R Suss R
Pte H Hutchings Wilts R
Pte C Dowling E Kent R
Pte W Pratt R Suss R
Pte E J Newport R W Kent R
Lieut P R Sawtell MM & Bar CA.C
RFN. W Howard K R Rif C
Pte P A Bleach R Suss R
Sgt F Ifould R H A
Pte C C Pannell London R
Lieut R C Denman G Gds
Act Lieut D F Mackeson HMS Tower
Cpl H Norrell R G A
S.P.Officer F C Squires HMTB
Pte A J Tupper E Kent R
Pte F Shepherd E Surrey R
Pte G E Irish R W Surrey R
World War 2
The memorial to the fallen of World War II fixed to the south wall of the South Tower is inscribed as follows:
1939 + 1945
To the memory of
F Aylward S A Hankey
W C Hunter A Laity
K Lock J Low
W E S Paget C Phillips
All of this Parish
At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them
Extensions were added during the 20th century to the north of the North aisle. These were used as a Choir robbing area, as a meeting place for the Junior Church and for fellowship after the main Sunday eucharistic services. In the early part of the 21st century in became apparent that this space was totally inadequate to serve the needs of our steadily growing church community. So it was decided to build a new extension now called the Lavant Room. An appeal was started in late 2006 to raise £150,000 [rising to approximate £220,000] for the new building and work began in June 2007. The new rooms were ready for our use in January 2008.
Rectors of Lavant
The Rectors of Lavant are recorded on two boards fixed to the west wall of the Nave. One of the boards records the following: 'In memory of Canon E D K Wood formerly Archdeacon of Mashonaland, Rector of Lavant, 1960- 1972, died in Rhodesia 27 May 1975.'
1. Edward I see vacant
2. Archbishop of Canterbury
3. Edward III see vacant
4. Henry IV
5. Philip & Mary
6. Thomas Sackville, Kt. Halnaker
7. John Morey, Kt. Halnaker
8. Charles II
9. James Earl of Derby Kt
10. H Peckham & W Milton Exors
11. Lord Willoughby de Broke
12. Duke of Richmond and Gordon