West Dean, St Andrew's Church
St Andrew's West Dean was a Saxon foundation, and Saxon door arches may be seen in its flint, stone and brick-built walls. Despite this the interior of St. Andrew’s seems modern and light, which is not what you would expect from the outside. A memorial stone set into the wall not far from the door explains why:
On the 26th November 1934 the church was almost completely destroyed by fire. According to a report in The Times newspaper the following day the Fire Brigade “were practically helpless owing to lack of water, West Dean being in an area which has suffered severely from a deficiency of water owing to the droughts of the last two summers.”
The same report records that a “very fine Elizabethan full-sized recumbent figure is badly damaged, and a life-size recumbent figure of the late Mr. Willie James [a former owner of West Dean Park] by Sir Goscombe John has been destroyed”; his monument was later restored by his son, Edward James; the recumbent figure of Richard Lewknor was never replaced, although the remainder of the monument including kneeling figures of his son and grandson, also both Richard, remains.
As should be obvious from the memorial stone the church was restored, according to the Chichester Observer (Wednesday, 15th April 1936), “The restoration of St. Andrew’s Parish Church, West Dean, which was destroyed by fire in November, 1934, was completed last week and the dedication of the new building took place on Saturday morning in time for the Easter services.”
The church contains the parish War Memorials for the 1st and 2nd World Wars, and memorials to members of the James and Alers-Hankey families, and others.
St Andrew's Church will be the venue for West Dean Classical Guitar Festival which takes place between the 11th and 15th August 2012.
Visit the Church Daily 9am - late afternoon
The Revd Richard Thomas Evelyn Brownrigg WOODS,The Rectory, Singleton, Chichester, West Sussex.