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Church of St Stephen

A Grade II* Listed Building in Forest Row, East Sussex

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.1368 / 51°8'12"N

Longitude: 0.0559 / 0°3'21"E

OS Eastings: 543931

OS Northings: 139512

OS Grid: TQ439395

Mapcode National: GBR LN5.NZ1

Mapcode Global: VHHQ8.XPFD

Entry Name: Church of St Stephen

Listing Date: 31 December 1982

Last Amended: 3 November 2016

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1028406

English Heritage Legacy ID: 296048

Location: Forest Row, Wealden, East Sussex, RH19

County: East Sussex

District: Wealden

Civil Parish: Forest Row

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Forest Row

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

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Summary

Church, designed by E P Loftus Brock in the Decorated style, built in 1879-80, at the expense of Oswald Smith, of Hammerwood Park (Grade I), for the Hammerwood Estate.

Description

Church, designed by E P Loftus Brock in the Decorated style, built in 1879-80, at the expense of Oswald Smith, of Hammerwood Park (Grade I), for the Hammerwood Estate.

MATERIALS: rock-faced local sandstone walls with diagonal bands of smooth stone and chequer-work to the west front and sawtooth cill bands with flint in the gaps of the teeth. Tiled roof, mainly red tiles with diaper patterns in black tiles, and terra cotta ridge tiles

PLAN: it is laid out with a three and a half bay nave and south aisle, a two-bay chancel, a south-east tower with a spire and a north-east vestry.

EXTERIOR: the west end of the nave has a gabled roof with a cross-shaped saddle stone, a large five-light flowing traceried window and end angled buttresses. The west end of the south aisle has a smaller gable end with an oval light above a three-light flowing traceried window and an angled buttress at the end.

The north side has three flowing traceried windows divided by buttresses and a projecting gabled porch with a cross-shaped saddle-stone and an arched doorcase with a plank door with large iron hinges.

The south aisle has a similar porch to the north side of the nave but traceried lancet windows divided by buttresses. At the east end is a south-east tower of three stages with clasped buttresses and a crenellated parapet with ornamental waterspouts. The top stage has arched windows with drip moulds, the middle stage has lancets and the lowest stage has arched windows with flowing tracery. The tower is surmounted by an octagonal stone spire with lucarnes.

The chancel has a large five-light east window with flowing tracery, two two-light lancet windows on the south side and the north side has a two-light lancet window and a gabled vestry with a chimney and two-light lancet window.

INTERIOR: the nave has a south arcade with stiff-leaf capitals and an arch-braced roof with kingposts and two tiers of purlins. The 1887 west window by the firm of Clayton and Bell depicts St James, St Peter, St Stephen, St Paul and St Barnabas. The west end walls have some cast iron wall gasoliers which were lit by a private gasworks in Hammerwood Park . The north wall has a memorial window to Oswald Augustus Smith, also by Clayton and Bell, depicting Christ and the two Maries, and wall tablets, including one to the Rev. George Ferris Whidborne d.1910, a Victorian palaeontologist, and another to his son of the same name who fell at Bethune. A further monument to Anthony Clouston Partridge d.1943 is a relief of Elisha and the Shunammite Woman and Child by Eric Kennington.

The south aisle roof has angled queen struts. The west stained glass window by the firm of Clayton and Bell depicts the Prodigal Son flanked by a Sower and a Reaper. The south wall lancet windows have stained glass geometrical patterns. There is a curved stone octagonal font at the west end with tracery panels from the base and around the bowl.

Both nave and south aisle retain the original pews with lightweight ends and the nave has a central band of red and black floor tiles.

Two steps lead up to the chancel which has an elaborate carved wooden pulpit on the north side and an eagle lectern A stained glass window in the north wall of the chancel by the firm of Clayton and Bell to Henrietta Mildred Smith depicts Mary washing Jesus' feet. The east window depicts the Four Evangelists with their symbols below. There are carved wooden altar rails and a carved wooden reredos inscribed with the text of the Lord's Prayer, the Credo and the Ten Commandments. The choir stalls have poppyhead finals. The tower houses the organ by T C Lewis and a set of six bells.

History

The church of St Stephen is an estate church designed by the architect E P Loftus Brock in the Decorated style at the expense of Oswald Smith, of Hammerwood Park (Grade I) and built 1879-80. Oswald Smith was the Chairman of Smith's Bank which later became part of the National Westminster Bank. The cost was between £5,000 and £6,000 and included a vicarage and an endowment.

E P Loftus Brock (1833-95), originally from Guernsey, was a pupil of W G and M E Habershon. When the brothers' partnership ended he became first the managing clerk and later the partner of M E Habershon. On Habershon's retirement in 1879 the practice was transferred to Brock. Brock prided himself on his understanding of the Gothic style, was particularly interested in archaeological and historical research, was responsible for at least 38 articles in Archaeologia Cantiana and the Journal of the British Archaeological Association and was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He designed a number of churches in Sussex and elsewhere in the country, either solely or in collaboration with others, and restored or made additions to earlier churches.

Reasons for Listing

The Church of St Stephen, Hammerwood, designed by E P Loftus Brock as an estate church for Oswald Smith, of Hammerwood Park, and built in 1879-80, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Quality of design: a varied design built of fine quality materials with an impressive crenellated south-east tower surmounted by an octagonal stone spire with lucarnes and a series of good quality flowing traceried windows divided by angled buttresses;
* Fixtures and fittings: includes a complete set of stained glass windows by the firm of Clayton and Bell, many dedicated to members of the patron's family, a series of wall tablets, an octagonal stone font, a full set of pews and choir stalls, an octagonal pulpit, reredos and cast iron gasoliers;
* Degree of survival: the exterior has not been altered and the interior is remarkably complete;
* Comparators: many of Loftus Brock's other churches were designed in collaboration with other architects or he completed those designed by others. St. Stephen's Church was entirely his design, was built to high specifications and survives unaltered;
* Group value: it adjoins the lychgate and churchyard wall by the same architect. As the estate church to the Hammerwood Estate it also relates to Oswald Smith's alterations to the main house and its grounds in the later C19 and the estate buildings along Hammerwood Lane.

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