Church of St Mary the Virgin, North Stoke, West Sussex
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A happy ending for a church with no name
In an idyllic rural setting on the South Downs, in a loop of the river Arun, St Mary's is a beautiful place to stumble upon. The church is in the simple shape of a cross and remains virtually unaltered since medieval times; its calm and peaceful atmosphere evokes centuries of prayer.
Until recently, the church was known as North Stoke Church. But in 2007, archaeologists researching the church records in the archives at Kew, discovered a letter dated 1275 from a bishop to King Edward I, naming the church as St Mary.
Though not large, its simplicity and elegant proportions give the impression of height and space. Light floods in through the clear glass of the beautiful Medieval windows to illuminate the interior. Traces of wall paintings dating from the fourteenth century include flowers, leaves, and scrolls, showing that the church would have been a blaze of colour and decoration in the Middle Ages.
Some very early and rare stained glass remains from the beginning of the fourteenth century, including figures that may represent the Virgin Mary and King David. There is some intriguing stone carving, including a sheep's head above a recessed stone seat on the west wall - an appropriate symbol in sheep-rearing country - and a quaint little hand. On the outside wall, facing south, is carved a medieval mass dial which was used before the days of clocks to calculate when church services should begin.
22 December 2018 - 22 December 2018
Service of the Christmas Crib
Boggle-eyed monsters in a rustic church on the South Downs
A country gem from a gentler era
A simple and charming church next to a school house
Facilities & Hire
Due to the historic nature of our buildings, only a very small number have heating, running water or toilet facilities. The lighting is usually operated via a 'push button' timer or a motion sensor.
5 miles north of Arundel off B2139. At Houghton Bridge follow the St. Mary’s Church brown tourist signs along Stoke Road.
Nearest railway station: Amberley (1 mile).
History & Further Information
Why not make your visit more enjoyable and informed by finding out about this church before you visit? You can download a range of publications below including the relevant county guide, and any walk round guides we have for this churchHampshire, Sussex & Surrey County Guide 2012
This free of charge short guide contains details of all the churches we care for in Hampshire, Sussex & Surrey. Printed copies of the county guide are also available at the church.
- Community information