was founded in 960 AD by St Dunstan, the then Archbishop of Canterbury. Believed to be originally a wooden church the Normans replaced it with a stone structure in the twelfth century. In 1389 the church was virtually destroyed by fire. Only the tower, the lancet window in the west wall and the base of the north aisle survived. The local congregation probably used the private chapel at the Archbishop’s Palace nearby until the church was rebuilt between 1410 and 1420. (The Palace is now a girls’ school).
Further work was carried out during the reign of Henry VIII: the nave roof was raised and the clerestory was added. In 1657 a clock was installed by Thomas Punnett on the interior West wall. It measures hours only and was used by the preacher to time his sermons!
In the South Porch moulded corbels support quadripartite rib vaulting. Inside a newel staircase gives access to the Parvis Tower above. This was used as either an oratory for a chantry priest, or a sacristan’s room for valuables. During the nineteenth century it was used as a cloakroom for the girls’ school held in the church.
The sandstone font has the initials of the vicar of Mayfield, Robert Peck, and his two Churchwardens carved on it with the date, 1666.
The pulpit, with its oak strapwork, is 17th century.
While many of the choir stalls date back to the sixteenth century, some repair work was carried out by the Mayfield School of Carving in the early twentieth century. They also carved the reredos. The screen to the Lady Chapel was carved in 1923 by Mr Rosier of Frant in memory of Thomas Hugh Mann of Trulls Hatch.
Most of the windows in the Church date from the late 19th and early 20th century, and nine of them were made by Mayer & Co of Munich and London. The East Window was donated in 1868 by Mrs Louise Treherne. There is a memorial window to Sir John Glubb (Glubb Pasha) at the West end.
There is a ring of eight bells in the tower. The oldest bell, by Thomas Giles, is dated 1602.
Many of the memorials in the church belong to the Baker and Kirby families.
These were local ironmaster families. There were four father-son Kirby vicars between 1780 and 1912.
The Sussex Heritage Trust Award
The Sussex Heritage Trust has awarded the 2009 Ecclesiastical Building Award to St Dunstan’s Church, Mayfield for the renovation and restoration of the West End of the Church. St Dunstan’s was chosen out of twelve excellent entries from across the whole of Sussex. The judges praised the work, saying it was ‘designed and executed with vision and skill’. As well as new drains, heating and floors, the original processional route from the West door straight through the church has been opened up, and a 12th century pillar base revealed. Already events such as: art exhibition, film showing, displays, meetings of all sorts and sizes, and gatherings of mothers and prams have been held.
The Church of the Good Shepherd, Five Ashes
The story of the Church of the Good Shepherd is one of involvement and co-operation between the members of a small village, and their generosity.
The idea of a District Church came from the Rev. G. C. Pitt-Johnson who became Vicar of Mayfield in 1920. A meeting was held at which Mr. Lothian Nicholson of Skipper’s Hill gave a piece of land and it was decided to collect funds. A First World War army officers’ hut, which is believed, had originally been on Eastbourne Airfield was purchased and transported in pieces to Five Ashes. It was erected by Mr. James Eastwood. A porch and bell-cote were added; gates were made and put up by Mr. Gilbert Rich and a boundary fence erected by Mr. Alfred Hemsley. Altogether this, with the furniture, cost £637.
The Furniture is a mixture of newly-made articles, and donations from other churches.
Mr. George Collins made the Communion table from oak felled at Skipper’s Hill and the altar rails were donated by the Vicar of Burwash Weald. A super altar by the Rector of Brightling, and some benches by St. Dunstan’s, our mother church. The reading desk came from the Rector of Waldron.
Later the oak lectern and pulpit were made by Mr. Gilbert Rich for Mr. and Miss Penn who gave them in memory of their sister. A sanctuary carpet and matting for the aisle were also donated.
The bell was presented by Mr. Jarvis of Cross-in-Hand. It had been the bell of the Free Chapel, which used to stand next to Chapel Cottage, before the Chapel was moved from Five Ashes to Heathfield in 1918.
The silver chalice and paten were given by Mrs. Nicholson who also presented a pair of brass candlesticks designed by Augustine Pugin (later stolen) and a brass alms dish.
The alter desk was given by Miss Hall in memory of Dr. John Hall. The carved wooden candlesticks came from Mrs. Chamberlain of Twitts Ghyll.
Ladies of the church worked altar cloths, frontals, curtains and alms bags.
The cross, which stands on top of the bookcase, was given by Mrs. Nicholson in memory of Sir Charles Nicholson and his son George Crosfield Norris who was killed flying during the First World War.
The children of Five Ashes held a concert and with the proceeds bought two hanging lamps made of copper and iron.
The pictures in the sanctuary were donated by Mrs. Fuller-Maitland of Lancashire, copies by della Bruno in 1870 of Fra Angelico’s angels in Florence and a copy of Raphael’s Madonna della Segiola. Another oil painting, Ecce Homo, painted by Simeon Solomon, was presented to the church on Christmas Day, 1924.
Electricity was connected to the church in 1934 when men of the village dug the trench from the road to the church and it was first switched on for the Christmas celebrations that year.
In 1938 the stained glass windows were put in. One was in memory of Mr. Lothian Nicholson from his wife and the other to Mr. Walter Penn from his friends and neighbours. For the service of dedication, the windows were lighted up from the outside by Messrs. G. Doble and A. Hemsley. At the same time, Mrs. Nicholson had the sanctuary panelled in Canadian spruce.
The tablet in memory of Miss Annie Taylor, made by F. Rosier of Frant was dedicated in 1934, the year she died. Miss Taylor had played the harmonium regularly since the church’s dedication in 1921, and had been one of the original members of the Church council as well as at one time a churchwarden.
The beeches and flowering plum on the north side of the church were planted in 1923, the yew trees in 1924 as well as the rambler roses either side of the walk. The orchids came of their own accord.
The first service was held on July 1st, 1921, when a troop of cadets, who were camping at Hadlow Down, asked for a service and arrived for it in style, marching with their band playing.
The church was dedicated on November 9th by the Bishop of Chichester, the Right Rev. W Burrows. The next day 56 people took Communion.
“It was a beautiful frosty morning with sunshine and there was great joy in the hamlet at the possession of the Church.”
Rachel Nicholson 2006