Earnley Church - The building

The Listed 2* church and small graveyard are contained within retaining stone walls of an interesting “boat shaped” island of land. The nave is of 13th century origin. A century later the chancel was added; an aumbry fitted with a carved door dates back to the 14th century. The first recorded rector was in office in 1365; parish registers survive from 1562, but there is no record of a dedication. It has always simply been “Earnley Church”.

Following a devastating diagnosis of deathwatch beetle damage in 1990 over £30,000 was raised for restoration by the determined community. West Sussex County Council chose Earnley Church for its award for best small-scale restoration in its Building Design Award Scheme in 1997- 1999.  It was believed to be the first time a church had won a building conservation award in the county.

Earnley Church is important to artists both professional and amateur. Rarely does a summer day go by without an easel being spotted nearby.  Its well-known annual art exhibition has been held for 15 years. The church itself features several significant pieces of artwork. Most striking are the Jonah window and the quatrefoil Peace window. The Jonah window in the south side of the nave was dedicated in 1987 to the memory of professional sculptor and artist and PCC secretary Yvonne Rusbridge. The Peace window in the chancel high above the altar depicts a dove descending with the Holy Spirit. Designed by Mel Howse it is dedicated in memory of Rev John Fethney and three of his children whose ashes are buried in the churchyard.

The churchyard is also of significance to students of military history. It contains the grave of Major William Barnsley Allen V.C., D.S.O., M.C. and Bar of the Royal Medical Corp. He was wounded seven times whilst serving as a doctor on the front in WW1.