Our History

The Village of Charlwood

Charlwood had a modest prosperity from open cast iron mining which existed from Saxon times until the beginning of the 18th century when the deep mining of iron and coal in the Midlands put an end to the Wealden iron industry.

The Church

Around 1080 the building of Charlwood church was started. The original church was a simple three-cell structure consisting of a nave, a squat tower without a crossing and a rounded apse beyond.  The nave and tower base still survive on the north side of the church.

Around 1280 the church was enlarged by adding a new structure on the south side of the nave.  This stopped at the western edge of the tower and was used as a side chapel as beyond the present pulpit is a well-preserved piscine.  The two-light window by the pulpit is a pretty and rare example of plate tracery.  The new chapel not only gave more space but also allowed the main entrance to be through a door in the south wall.  The wooden door is contemporary, as is the top hinge – undoubtedly made from local charcoal-forged iron.

Around 1310 a window was let into the Norman north wall by the tower.  Some twenty years later the Norman apse beyond the tower was replaced by a larger chancel.

In 1480 the church gained its final shape when a chantry chapel was built to the east of the 13th century aisle and arches were cut into the intervening wall to open up the building.  The Norman west door and window above (which contains fragments of mediaeval glass) were rebuilt and a porch added to the south door, which still has the remains of a holy water stoup.

Until the extension was built this year, the only post-reformation construction was in the heightening of the tower – which contains six bells, three of which date back to the 1660s.  The pulpit dates from around that time and is a mixture of Tudor and Jacobean woodwork.  In 1716 a gallery was erected for musicians.

Around 1858 an organ was installed, necessitating a reorganisation of the internal layout.  The music gallery was removed; the nave and the chancel were relocated from the north side to the south and the old chancel was made into the vestry.  As the pulpit was in the only position to command a view of the whole congregation, the pews to the front and east were set to face each other.

Charlwood church contains two features of national importance – its group of wall paintings, dating from the 13th century and its mediaeval screen.

St Nicholas Church


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