St Nicholas Church, Compton.
A brief history of the church
"Surrey's flagship Norman church"
Simon Jenkins, England's Thousand Best Churches.
This is one of the most interesting and curious churches in all England.
The oldest parts (the tower and chancel arch) predate the Norman Conquest (1066),
while the Normans built the nave and chancel.
In the later twelfth century, the extraordinary and unique two-storey sanctuary was built,
fitted into the existing structure of the chancel. The timber balustrade to the upper sanctuary chapel,
from about 1180, is said to be the oldest decorative timberwork surviving in Britain.
About the same time, the nave was greatly enlarged, with new aisles. The font dates from the same period.
In the middle ages, all wall surfaces would have been painted, but all that is left is the patterning above
the chancel arch depicting steps up to heaven (Jacob's Ladder perhaps).
In the seventeenth century, the church was fitted out with a new pulpit, communion rails and altar table.
There is much to be seen in the detail.
The east window of the lower sanctuary contains thirteenth century stained glass of the Virgin and Child with
flowering sceptre, while the west window of the south aisle is seventeenth century.
Note also, under a protective plate on the south side of the chancel arch, a scratched figure of a knight,
apparently late twelfth century.
An excellent and extremely thorough guide written by Alan Bott is available for sale in the church.
How to find the church.
The church is well worth a visit and is open daily between 10am and 6pm (or dusk if earlier).
It can be found by coming off the A3 south of Guildford on the B3000.
Travel into the village and on the left hand side you will find a small antiques shop attached to a large black barn,
behind which is the church car park.
The church is a little hidden away but can be found on the opposite side of the road, up the path by the war memorial.
© 2013, the Parochial Church Council of St Nicholas Church, Compton.