St Andrew's Parish Church West Stoke
A Short Guide
West Stoke is recorded as a manor in the Domesday Book. When it became an independent parish is not known, except that it must have been before 1398 when John Tyngwyth is listed as its Rector.
The Church is of 11th century origin: the lofty nave walls are typically Saxon. Another Saxon feature, the remains of a round-headed window, was found in the apex of the east wall during restoration work undertaken in 1931. The tall North doorway (now leading into the vestry) with its round-headed arch, also dates from the 11th century. The south door was probably of the same style, but a new one was made with pointed arch in the 13th century: only the original inner part of the west jamb remains. A new chancel was constructed in the 13th Century, and in the 14th century a priest's door was provided. This was subsequently bricked up, but can be seen from outside, and internally, where it has been converted into a cupboard. The two-storied porch (in effect a low tower) was added in the 13th century. The bell chamber contains a single bell cast in 1712 by Samuel Knight. It was re-hung in 1998 by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. The south door is of considerable age, retaining original hook and strap hinges. Why the door should be riddled with buckshot is a matter for conjecture.
A very wide chancel arch dominates the nave. It was built in 1841 in Early English style. Immediately above it, behind a roof tie beam, can be seen the remains of a fine quality wall painting dated 1190 - 1220. It was a crucifixion scene. This was uncovered in 1990, conserved by Miss Elwira Pluta of the Courtauld Institute. Photographs and an annotated drawing are hung on the south wall. Above the north door is a carving of the bearded head of an unknown bishop, dated 1225-1250. Above the south door is a small cast iron Royal Arms as used between 1714 and 1800. The nave windows are 13th century, but those on the north and south sides were modified around 1870. Under the west window is a brass plaque in memory of lady Victoria Wellesley (d.1897). It is unusual in that the wax letter-filling was found to be red and white rather than black and white. It was thus restored using enamel paint in 1988. The Font is of standard Victorian pattern. It replaced a much older tub-shaped one, which has disappeared. The simple pews, pulpit, and priest's stall were made in 1879.
The main feature is the splendid Elizabethan style memorial to Adrian (d. 1614) and Mary (d,1635) Stoughton, pious parents of 16 children (some of whom having, predeceased them, are shown as skulls being carried by their siblings). Adrian Stoughton succeeded his great uncle as Lord of the manor of West Stoke in the late 16th century, and was Recorder of Chichester in 1601. The large piscina on the south wall has a 13th century base and shelf; the remainder of it was refurbished probably in the 18th century. The Chancel windows are all 13th century. The glass in those on the north and south sides commemorates members of the Cavendish family who were 19th century tenants of West Stoke House. The East Window commemorates Emily Shaw (d. 1891), wife of the Rector; some of the figures are said to have been designed by Alma Tadema. The much repaired altar rails are from the 18th century.
The church owns two good pieces of silver. They are kept in the Cathedral Treasury in Chichester, and may be seen there, but photographs are to be found on the west wall of St. Andrew's. The small chalice with paten cover dates from 1558-59 when all chalices in the diocese were remade. The salver with repousse decoration which was made in 1658 by Francis Leake of London, is believed to have been given to the church by Peter and Martha Legay (who bought the Manor in the 1650s) or by their heirs.
Although there is now nothing to be seen, near the hedgerow to the left of the door (that is, to the east of the churchyard) once stood an old tithe barn, and to the right, on the site of the car park, once stood the original Rectory - a quite small thatched cottage. Sadly, both of these interesting old buildings have long since been demolished.
The Incumbent, Churchwardens and Parochial Church Council are most grateful to Lt Col G B Eastwood for preparing the script for this guide.