St Margaret's Church, Ifield: Wikis


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St Margaret, Ifield
The church from the east–northeast
The church from the east–northeast

51°7′26″N 0°13′10″W / 51.12389°N 0.21944°W / 51.12389; -0.21944Coordinates: 51°7′26″N 0°13′10″W / 51.12389°N 0.21944°W / 51.12389; -0.21944
Denomination Church of England
Dedication Margaret the Virgin
Parish Ifield, St Margaret
Deanery East Grinstead
Archdeaconry Horsham
Diocese Chichester
Province Canterbury
Priest(s) Rev. Canon Doris Staniford (Team Vicar)

St Margaret's Church is an Anglican church in the Ifield neighbourhood of Crawley, a town and borough in West Sussex, England. It is the ancient parish church of the village of Ifield; the mediaeval settlement was expanded to form one of the New Town of Crawley's 13 neighbourhoods, and the church's modern parish now serves several other neighbourhoods as well.[1]



The ancient parish of Ifield covered about 4,000 acres (1,600 ha) of rural land in the north of Sussex, up to the border with Surrey.[2] It was attached to the priory at nearby Rusper by the mid-13th century.[3] The church was built in the centre of the small settlement of Ifield; its dedication to St Margaret has been traced back to 1489, although the 12th-century font which still survives in the present-day church was probably taken from the building in place at that time.[3] (This font has been converted into a lectern.)[4] The present stone building is believed to stand on the site of an older wooden church—possibly dating from the 10th or 11th century;[5] the settlement of Ifield was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086.[6] By the 13th century, a relatively large building had been provided. Its chancel survives in the present church.[5]

Aisles were added to the church in the 14th century, first on the north side and then on the south; seating capacity was thereby doubled. Extra windows were installed in the nave.[7] A century later, the chancel arch was widened and a rood screen installed. This was a standard feature of churches in the mediaeval era, as were wall decoration and paintings. Ecclesiastical feeling moved in favour of austere, whitewashed walls, screens and pillars by the 17th century, however, and the rood screen and all internal decoration have been removed.[8] Parliament decreed these changes in the 1640s, and the vicar of Ifield at the time, Reverend Robert Goddin—a strict Protestant who was strongly opposed to Catholic-style worship, ceremony and church decoration—enforced them rigorously.[9]

Lychgate at the churchyard entrance

The next major work took place in 1760, when a gallery was built for the choir and the pews were replaced with large box-pews taken from St. Margaret's Church, Westminster (the parish church of the Palace of Westminster in London).[10][11] In 1847, the roof was improved and a vestry was built; this incorporated wood from one of Crawley's famous old trees, the "County Oak", which had been cut down at that time.[3][12][13] (The tree marked the ancient county boundary between Sussex and Surrey,[14] and has given its name to a retail park and industrial area near the present Manor Royal estate in the north of Crawley.) Between 1883 and 1884, a tall, substantial tower was built at the west end[13] to replace an earlier small tower over the porch (which had itself replaced the much older bell turret); the nave was lengthened; and a gallery at the west end of the church was removed. Architect and archaeologist Somers Clarke worked on these changes.[3] Also in 1883, a pipe organ was installed in the south aisle.[4]

The exterior walls are of rough-hewn stone,[15] but this has been hidden under modern layers of cement.[12] The church is approached from the east end through a lychgate situated at the end of Ifield Street, the ancient village street.

The tower from the west.


St Margaret's Church has a chancel, wide nave with a narrow clerestory above and narrow three-bay aisles on the north and south sides, a tall tower (topped with a spire) at the west end and a porch on the north side.[12][15] The nave, chancel and chancel arch all date from the 13th century. The aisles and their arcades are largely unaltered from their 14th-century origins:[12][15] between them they feature various mouldings and designs typical of that period, including chamfered arches and squinch corners. Many of the windows also date from that century; trefoil-headed designs predominate, but there are some larger square-headed windows as well. The tower features three tall lancet windows on the lower stage, and a much smaller lancet above.[15] The three lancets depict the Resurrection, Crucifixion and Ascension of Jesus Christ respectively. Several other windows also contain stained glass.[4] The roof of the nave is tall and steeply pitched, and has substantial king posts and tie-beams. It is also of mediaeval origin.[12][15][3]

Many of the internal fittings date from the renovations in the 19th century, but the font is by far the oldest feature of the church. Made of local marble, it dates from the late 12th century and has an intricately carved stem flanked by four columns topped with delicate leaf-like capitals.[15][3] Now placed in front of the chancel arch, a wooden desk has been installed in its square bowl to make a modern lectern.[4]

Memorials and churchyard

Effigy of Sir John de Ifelde

At the east end of the nave are two large 14th-century stone effigies which survived the 17th-century upheaval and all subsequent changes in the church, and which are now considered excellent examples of their kind. They are life-size representations of a knight in a full suit of armour and a woman, both lying on their backs in prayer. Most sources identify them as John de Ifelde (Sir John of Ifield) and his wife,[15][3][7][4] Lady Margaret.[15] There is some disagreement over their date of death and the date the effigies were carved, although 1340 is most often cited.[15][7] The figures may have been carved in London rather than locally.[7] Their heads rest on angels and their feet on lions. Architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner had great praise for the effigies, noting that they were "far above the usual standard" and had an "inimitable sideways sway".[15]

Mark Lemon's grave

Mark Lemon, the founding editor of the satirical magazine Punch, lived in the parish in the mid-19th century. He owned Vine Cottage on Crawley High Street, which formed the boundary between Ifield parish and the Crawley parish of St John the Baptist. He often worshipped at St John the Baptist's, which was much closer, but was buried at St Margaret's when he died in 1870.[16][11]

The Hutchinson table tomb

A large table tomb at the west end of the churchyard is listed separately by English Heritage as a Grade II listed structure. Dating from about 1800, it contains the remains of George and Mary Hutchinson. The structure is of pale (but heavily weathered) stone, including a two-step plinth, with various inscriptions on the sides, topped with a carved urn decorated with putti. The Grade II listing was given on 23 February 1983—the same day as the church itself was listed.[17]

There are several other large tombs from the 18th century in the churchyard, and several brass and stone memorial tablets inside the church from the 16th century onwards.[17] Some of the stained glass windows are also dedicated to deceased parishioners.[4]

The parish

St Leonard's Church, Langley Green

The present-day parish of Ifield covers the west of Crawley and its rural hinterland. The A23 and A2220 roads, between County Oak and the A264, form the eastern and southern boundaries. Beyond the edge of the Ifield West estate, the boundary extends to Faygate and the farms and rural roads around that hamlet. The northern border is close to the county boundary with Surrey and the southern edge of Gatwick Airport.[18]

There are four churches in the parish—one in each of the neighbourhoods it covers[19]—and a church plant venue at Ifield West (part of the Ifield neighbourhood).[1] Bewbush is served by St Mary Magdalene's Church in the far southwest of the parish. St Alban's Church, a brick building with a tall bell tower, is in nearby Gossops Green,[20] and Langley Green is served by St Leonard's Church.[21] All of these churches were built after World War II, when the new town was designed.[3]

The church today

St Margaret's was listed at Grade I by English Heritage on 23 February 1983.[12] It is one of the three Grade I buildings, and 100 listed buildings of all grades, in the Borough of Crawley.[22] Buildings classified as Grade I are considered to be of "exceptional interest" and national importance.[23] There is a Sunday morning service and other events throughout the week.[24]


  1. ^ a b "St Margaret's, Ifield". A Church Near You website. Oxford Diocesan Publications Ltd. Retrieved 2008-11-24.  
  2. ^ Gwynne, Peter (1990). "3 – The Saxon Settlers". A History of Crawley (1st Edition ed.). Chichester: Phillimore & Co. p. 22. ISBN 0-85033-718-6.  
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Hudson, T. P. (ed) (1987). "A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 3 – Bramber Rape (North-Eastern Part) including Crawley New Town". Victoria County History of Sussex. British History Online. pp. 68–70. Retrieved 2008-12-01.  
  4. ^ a b c d e f "St Margaret of Antioch, Ifield, Crawley, West Sussex". The Roughwood website. Mark Collins. 2004-11-23. Retrieved 2008-12-01.  
  5. ^ a b Gwynne, Peter (1990). "5 – Mediaeval Beginnings". A History of Crawley (1st Edition ed.). Chichester: Phillimore & Co. p. 38. ISBN 0-85033-718-6.  
  6. ^ Gwynne, Peter (1990). "4 – The Normans". A History of Crawley (1st Edition ed.). Chichester: Phillimore & Co. p. 31. ISBN 0-85033-718-6.  
  7. ^ a b c d Gwynne, Peter (1990). "6 – Mediaeval Growth". A History of Crawley (1st Edition ed.). Chichester: Phillimore & Co. p. 55. ISBN 0-85033-718-6.  
  8. ^ Gwynne, Peter (1990). "6 – Mediaeval Growth". A History of Crawley (1st Edition ed.). Chichester: Phillimore & Co. p. 56. ISBN 0-85033-718-6.  
  9. ^ Gwynne, Peter (1990). "8 – The Seventeenth Century: the Uneasy Century". A History of Crawley (1st Edition ed.). Chichester: Phillimore & Co. p. 78. ISBN 0-85033-718-6.  
  10. ^ Gwynne, Peter (1990). "9 – Georgian England: the Peaceful Years at Home". A History of Crawley (1st Edition ed.). Chichester: Phillimore & Co. p. 102. ISBN 0-85033-718-6.  
  11. ^ a b Gwynne, Peter (1990). "10 – Victorian Prosperity". A History of Crawley (1st Edition ed.). Chichester: Phillimore & Co. p. 119. ISBN 0-85033-718-6.  
  12. ^ a b c d e f "Images of England — detailed record, Parish Church of St Margaret, The Street". Images of England. English Heritage. 2007. Retrieved 2008-11-24.  
  13. ^ a b Gwynne, Peter (1990). "10 – Victorian Prosperity". A History of Crawley (1st Edition ed.). Chichester: Phillimore & Co. p. 120. ISBN 0-85033-718-6.  
  14. ^ Bastable, Roger (1986). "Part One: 1886–1910". Crawley: The Making of a New Town. Chichester: Phillimore & Co. ISBN 0-85033-613-7.  
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Nairn, Ian; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1965). The Buildings of England: Sussex. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 206–207. ISBN 0-14-071028-0.  
  16. ^ Gwynne, Peter (1990). "9 – Georgian England: the Peaceful Years at Home". A History of Crawley (1st Edition ed.). Chichester: Phillimore & Co. p. 95. ISBN 0-85033-718-6.  
  17. ^ a b "Images of England — detailed record, Table Tomb to George and Mary Hutchinson in Parish Churchyard, The Street". Images of England. English Heritage. 2007. Retrieved 2008-12-01.  
  18. ^ "Ifield: St Margaret". A Church Near You website. Oxford Diocesan Publications Ltd. Retrieved 2008-11-25.  
  19. ^ "The Diocese of Chichester: Benefice of Ifield". Diocese of Chichester website. Diocese of Chichester. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-25.  
  20. ^ "St Alban, Gossops Green, Crawley, West Sussex". The Roughwood website. Mark Collins. 2004-10-19. Retrieved 2008-11-25.  
  21. ^ "St Leonard's Church, Langley Green". A Church Near You website. Oxford Diocesan Publications Ltd. Retrieved 2008-11-24.  
  22. ^ "Listed Buildings in Crawley" (PDF). Crawley Borough Council Planning and Development website. Crawley Borough Council. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-28.  
  23. ^ "What does Listing mean?". English Heritage website. English Heritage. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-28.  
  24. ^ "Church Information: St Margaret's". Ifield Parish website. Parish of Ifield. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-28.  


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