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  THE STORY OF SHOREHAM       AN ANCIENT BRASS  
                     
Another theory is, that the church was partly destroyed during. the Reformation, but there seems to be no proof of this, and small reason to suppose that such should have been the case, seeing that the edifice was neither tin Abbey nor a Priory Church-although it may have been intended for such-and Henry VIIL's minister, Thomas Cromwell, had therefore no reason to include it in his destruction of monastic buildings. Yet another tradition tries to fasten the cause of its ruin on Oliver Cromwell, but again proof is wanting.   added little to the delicate beauty of architecture since their clay, and the stones which they carved with such consummate skill seem to cry out to us, that what they created we can only feebly imitate.
  It is seldom that one has the opportunity of viewing the interior of a church devoid of its pew or chairs, and so obtaining some idea of the appearance of the building in mediaeval times, when the whole of the service was rendered by the worshippers, standing and kneeling. The only seats provided were usually against the walls and were intended for the comfort of the aged and infirm. Hence "the weakest must go to the wall," and at Shoreham a seat of stone was provided for their use. In these days we often hear the old saying quoted as above, though it has quite lost its original meaning.
If you will examine the old carved oak chimney-piece before. referred to, you will observe, in addition to the interesting details in connection with the shipwrights' craft, that one panel is devoted: to what we may reasonably presume to be intended for a representation of the Church of New Shoreham as it appeared when the carving was executed-probably early in the 17th century.. Crude as it is, it apparently depicts the original nave having a. large Decorated west window and a spacious south porch such as would have appeared over the foundations recently uncovered. The tower is also shown surmounted by a spire-now lacking. The evidence afforded by this old relic cannot be passed over in silence. It seems to go fax to prove that the nave did not become altogether ruinous until late in the 17th century, and that possibly the present west end was not closed up in its somewhat "patchy " form until the beginning of the 18th century.  
           
  Shoreham people are justly proud of this heritage of the pastIt speaks to them with no uncertain voice, of centuries when their town was wealthy and its merchants and citizens were prosperous.
  Possibly the memorial to one of these merchants is to be found in the ancient brass in the choir pavement. It depicts: a civilian and his lady, attired in the costume of about the year 1450, but is without inscription, and therefore these notable townsfolk are nameless.
  This is the most ancient memorial-if such it may be calledwhich the church possesses, and in this respect possibly it may be found somewhat disappointing. In a church of such noble proportions one would fain behold the sculptured " knyghte: and fayre ladye," lying side by side, on tombs displaying all the glory of heraldic devices. No such monuments will be found at New Shoreham.   Possibly some members of the de Braose and de Mowbray families may have found sepulture in the nave, but if so, doubtless their memorials became desecrated with its decay and ruin.
In these pages no attempt will be made to give a full description of this noble fragment of antiquity, whose details are so beautiful, and so varied. Swinburne, in sweet song, tells us that this: shrine has seen" eight hundred waxing and waning years." It is "bright with riches of radiant niches, and pillars smooth as a straight stem grows."   Its tower is " set square to the storms of air," and " stately stands it, the work of hands unknown." Often as you may enter its doors, you will not leave without noting something in its beauty which had before escaped you. You will pause to admire the handiwork of those skilled artizans~ who carved the stone into such cunning patterns-sometimes so delicate, at times so fantastic, and in places even grotesque. As we stand in this ancient vaulted choir and note its arcades,. study its wealth of conventional carving in imitation of foliage,, fruit, and flowers, its deep round and hollow mouldings which. catch the light and shade so wonderfully, the work of thoseold-time masons, centuries ago, can but remind us that we have  
           
                     
            Of " the chantry scituate in the parisshe church of NeweShorham " a few particulars have been preserved but the name of the founder is unknown.
            It may be mentioned, that a chantry was an endowment for the maintenance of one or more priests to sing daily mass for the souls of the founders or others specified by them. Usually the priests who served these cenntries were quite independent of the vicar or parish priest (Shoreham seems to have been an
                     
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Copyright © Martin Snow 2002 All rights reserved
Revised 27 February 2002