St Giles church has now opened (8th April 2017)
The opening was attended by at least 60 people who listened to an address by Piers Aiers on behalf of the Churches Conservation Trust
The Church will now be open from 10am to 4pm daily
St Giles church is to be found part way along Marsh Lane, Merston away from the houses and on a slight rise in an otherwise flat landscape. The Forbridge Rife, now joined by the Chichester Flood Relief Scheme, passes close by. Locals have mentioned that the Rife once took a slightly different route curving closer to the medieval church.
Pevsner describes the church as ‘a disarming building’ set in ‘a delightful situation’ with ‘a simple village effect’. The setting is rural and unspoilt but easily accessible.
St Giles church is generally identified as thirteenth century though there is some suggestion that it could be earlier in origin. The font is twelfth century. The porch is seventeenth century and the open bell-cote is nineteenth century. The old school room next to the church and fronting the road is also nineteenth century as are most of the closest buildings of Merston which centre on the duck pond. The long ‘cat slide’ roof on the north side of the church covers the interior aisle. The exterior south facing wall has a noticeable join where the nave and chancel meet inside and there are other similarly curious features which make the dating of the various parts of the church a challenge.
Services ceased in 2010 since the ceiling was considered unsafe and entry into the church is not possible at the moment. The good news is that the Churches Conservation Trust has taken over responsibility for the building. The graveyard and the school room remain with the Parish of North Mundham.