Holy Trinity Duncton, a church built by James Castle for Lord Leconfield in 1865-1866.
Reasons for Designation
The Church of Holy Trinity, Duncton, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* As a modest and intact church of 1865-1866 in early Decorated style, suited to its rural location, but nonetheless showing architectural flair in its detailing;
* For its almost complete set of good contemporary furnishings, modest and suited to the building.
* As an estate church built in 1865-6, for Lord Leconfield of Petworth, by James Castle, an architect he employed elsewhere in the area.
* With the adjacent former school, likely to have been built by Castle in 1867; with the Catholic church of St Anthony and St George, built by Gilbert Blount in 1868, as part of the Burton Park estate, registered at Grade II with the house at Grade I; and with other listed buildings in the village.
The present Church of Holy Trinity, Duncton, was built in 1865-6, replacing Duncton’s earlier church, St Mary’s, which was located some distance to the south at the foot of Duncton Hill. The Church of St Mary was demolished in 1876, but the new church contains its bell, identified as being one of the very earliest dated swung chimed bells in Britain, thought to have been cast in Normandy in 1369. The new church and its site were given by Lord Leconfield of Petworth House. The architect chosen was James Castle of Oxford. Plans dating from 1864-1865 illustrate the development of the design (some of which carry the name of Henry Upton, surveyor at Petworth). The church today remains almost exactly as it was built.
Castle (born in about 1830) was the son of Robert Castle, a builder and architectural sculptor; James was also a sculptor as well as an architect, exhibiting a baptismal font at the Great Exhibition of 1851. Castle, who worked principally on religious and school buildings in the Oxfordshire area, is thought to have been employed by Lord Leconfield to build the school at Byworth (listed at Grade II) in 1855, and the chapel in the Horsham Road Cemetery. He may also have been the architect of the school building which stands to the east of the church, thought to have been built in 1867.
The small churchyard contains the gravestone of Florence Gertrude de Fonblanque (1864-1949), a notable suffragist and organizer of the women’s suffrage march from Edinburgh to London in 1912.
Church, built in early Decorated style by James Castle for Lord Leconfield in 1865-1866.
MATERIALS: local random rubblestone, with a plinth of coursed rubble and ashlar dressings. The roof is of clay tiles, with fishscale bands; there are wrought-iron cross finials to the spire, porch and east end.
PLAN: the church is without aisles, with the chancel slightly narrower and lower than the nave. There is a tower to the south-east, containing the vestry; the towers of nearby churches at Petworth, Tillington, and Lurgashall are similarly positioned. At the west end, to the south, is the porch.
EXTERIOR: the church’s most prominent feature is the tower, which has a pyramidal spire with sprocketed eaves. The hollow-chamfered pointed doorway has a hoodmould with carved male and female headstops; the planked door has foliate wrought-iron hinges. Above are arched blind lights, punched with quatrefoils, three to the south and paired to the west and east, linked by mouldings with varied foliate stops. The belfry, with flush angle buttresses, has tall pointed trefoil-headed openings with louvers. A deep moulded cornice supports the roof eaves. The gabled porch has angle buttresses; the pointed doorway is flanked by nook shafts with stiff-leaf and flower capitals; the hoodmould has headstops. Above the doorway is a recessed cross. The porch has its original wooden gates; the door to the church has elaborate foliate wrought-iron hinges. Resting on the eaves within the porch is the parish bier. Between the tower and the porch and separated by a buttress are two pointed two-light windows with Geometrical tracery below plain hoodmoulds; the window form is repeated in the north wall of the nave, and on the west elevation. There is a trefoiled lancet window to the east of the tower, lighting the chancel. In the west elevation above the single window is a small circular opening containing a cross within a quatrefoil. The large east window has intersecting tracery, beneath a plain hoodmould. There are angle buttresses to the east end. The north side of the church has three windows between buttresses to the nave, and two lancets to the chancel.
INTERIOR: the church interior is spare, the aisleless nave separated from the chancel by a tall pointed arch with a convex outer and concave inner moulding, and waterleaf forms to the bases. The timber roof over the nave is formed of coupled rafters with two ties and straight braces, forming an angular waggon roof; the roof to the chancel has curved braces. The floor of the nave is of black and red tiles, with timber beneath the pews; the chancel and sanctuary have polychromatic tiled floors. A pointed arch to the south of the chancel contains the organ, built by A Gardner & Son of Arundel, and restored in 2000. To the east of the organ a narrow opening leads to the vestry, lit by the quatrefoil openings in the first stage of the tower. The belfry is reached by means of the original ladder. Stained glass to the east and west windows, and in the sanctuary, dates from the 1860s, and there is an 1870s memorial window in the chancel. The majority of the windows contain opaque diamond-leaded glass painted with alternating oak branches and the letters ‘ihc’. The church’s pine fittings and furnishings form a coherent and almost complete Gothic Revival group of a modest type, original to the building. The altar itself, with open trefoiled arches, may be later. The altar rails have delicate trefoil tracery; the 1864 drawings show that rails with ironwork panels were originally envisaged. The simple pews have sweeping trefoil-topped ends; the choir stalls also have curved ends, with lozenge finials, missing their candle-holders. There is a chair and reading desk for both rector and curate; the rector’s chair is later. The pulpit, carved with oak leaves, dates from the 1930s. The lectern stands on a buttressed pedestal. The stone font, with an octagonal basin punched with quatrefoils on a pedestal, has an elaborate timber cover with Gothic detailing. By the door is a collection box in the shape of a Star of David, possibly later. On the north wall is a brass war memorial plaque in a carved timber frame, commemorating the men of Duncton, Upwaltham, Burton and Barlavington who served and died in the First World War; the stone Second World War memorial plaque is on the south wall.