The Poems of William Chives

Page 1 of 5     Next page     







The Parish Church of Chiddingly

The Exterior

by William Chives 1940



We meet my friend, and who art thou,

From whence, and wither wending;

Hast thou the love of Church-lore in thine heart?

On such spare moments spending,

Then read of me.

Before thou do'st commence to read,

There be one thing I would beg thee heed;

For the information found inside,

On older folk I have relied,

Believed to be the truth.

Or, maybe thou do'st interest lack,

Then get thee gone, and ne'er come back;

For there be others who doth pine,

To read of history such as mine.



My friend it is not my intent,

That thy time should be on twaddle spent;

My aim has been to quote the truth

On notes I took when but a youth.

If this first part thou doth enjoy,

On such would still more time employ;

T'is my intent, should fate be kind-

To state more facts within my mind,

On interior of church.

If thou dos't fail to understand

This history written by my hand,

Then read it through a second time

For by request t'is all in rhyme.



Those mellow stones which form the tower,

Was in this parish found;

Drawn from within a pit therein,

And placed upon this mound,

By nature formed.

Come, - sally forth down shady lane,

To find the place from whence they came,

"Ah!", here it is, a stream doth flow

Wherein centuries past, those stones did grow

In silence wrapt.

Come, - let us now our steps retrace,

To our ancestor's resting place;

Whilst I to thee, more facts expound,

Which I have gathered from around -

Just rest awhile.



Those Pinacles in number four,

Still stand, as in the days of yore;

One north, one south, one east, one west

For ages now, hath stood the test

Of tempest's blast, and howling gale

Which caused the heart of man to quail;

Through heat of day, and darkness deep,

Like sentinel's their vigils keep. Undaunted.

Each one's individual height is round eight feet,

Octangular in shape, erect, and neat;

Mark this, - those stones doth vary much in age

Some be of late, or recent years,

The rest of earlier history's page.

Like tower below.



The older Spire was taller than the one we see today,

The cause why man did alter it, I cannot truly say;

Facts told to me by quite a few, but mainly older people -

The height in feet from ground around to base of present steeple,

Is eighty and four. (84)

Go on from there to base of Vane, which my sire did help to fix;

In feet, my friend, thou sure wilt find, is well nigh, fortysix.

Now put the two together, thou wilt find by doing so,

That the number thou hast now in hand, is 1 3 0. (130)

Thou hast a look of askance,- it is each steeple's height,

I beg thee to forgive me, but thy doubt now put to flight,

For the masons told the Rector, the figures ne'er to mix,

As the older one was fortyseven, but the new one fortysix.



Do'st e'er thou let a hero die, and leave his life untold?

"Nay never", then I will tell thee all I know about that spire of old.

For many centuries it has stood,

Like tower below it still seemed good, for many more,

Till suddenly, - when storm did rage, that spire had reached it's lotted age.

It's life cut short, by lightnings flash -

It met it's end with awful crash.

One never can forget that storm,

The school nearby with fear inborn, was petrified

And as we did sing to drown the din,

The Rector old came running in.

Then as the Head he duly spied, with ghastly look, he loudly cried,

"The Church is struck!"

And while he laboured for his breath,

All thought, he too, would meet his death, (he swooned).

The Head and he then quickly went, to view the nature of the rent.

They found it was both wide and deep, whilst on the ground

Lay scattered heaps, of broken jagged stones.

But those aged broken heroes had another place to fill,

To take a journey they were destined, or they might -

Have been here still.

For the masons had a use for them, on a church

Down Brighton way.

So they went to help to pay the cost

Of the spire we see today.

They still live on.



If thou wilt lend thine ear to me, then I will now explain to thee,

How, when but a boy, without a care, I watched that steeple growing there.

In wonder rapt, the workmen true, with skilful hand, did ply

their toil with earnest zest,whilst all around them on the ground,

lies massive stones, all, seeming best, to gaze of human eye.

And close at hand another scene doth meet one's eager eye, - a stately row

of neat designs, - awaiting hoist nearby, to lift them to their

resting place where in the days to come, man will go on admiring

them, until his life be done. (How long none ne'er doth know).

Whence came those stones of spire today, that much I cannot truthfully say,

But late village squire told me one day, he thought they came from down Devon way.

This spire is like the youth today, is better guarded than in olden day.

"See" - there runs a narrow metal strip, from ground below, to steeple's tip

To stay the lightenings blast.

Thou doubt what's written in this book, then get thee gone, and take a look,

Go thou the way, both quick and best, round yonder end that faces west

By belfry door.

A few strides more round buttress base, and there it is before thy face.

More time on that one dare not spend, come now with me to chancels end

To cast about.



Enchanting sight awaits thine eye, a giant weeping ash near-by

Doth stand as guardian there to stay, the alien hand that dare to slay

The sanctuary of God.

Thou ask, "why say the alien hand" then raise thine eyes where thou do'st stand.

Of sufficient proof there is no loss, for,

On each two ends is broken cross, of

The Chancel, and the Nave.



Yon ancient porch, through which the feet of man hath trod for

centuries now, to hear the word of God, to me seems strange.

The old double-doors are gone, and barrier to imposter there be none

The lower half of those two doors, was two-inch solid wood;

The upper half with upright bars, was every bit as good.

Those slots of old in Lintils, doth still remain I see,

They was cut out for a purpose, - That's where the cross-bar used to be.

The ancient lock that fastened them, was unlike modern one,

My father always locked them up, just after setting sun.

I too did oft-times help him, when I was but a boy,

But late Rector ne'er would do it, for that lock him did annoy.

Now cast thine eyes upon that moss-grown roof,

Those solid slabs which form the cover is ample proof

Of how men did aim, long years ago, their labours to do well

And if those slabs could only speak, yea, many a tale could tell.

Now, oft times one has wondered, which would claim the highest score,

Of happy wedding couples that have passed within that door -

Or,whether those whose life is done, and now are gone to rest

Yea, oft times one has wondered which one's total would be best.



The date up over entrance, doth go three centuries back,

And arguments upon that date, in number nought doth lack.

Some say, it there was put, when Porch and Nave was builded,

But the flight of time as known today

Such truth have never yielded.



The Clock in tower, which thou do'st see,

I must explain seems part of me;

My father, he did fix it there. I too in that did my small share.

Late David Guy left fifty pounds, as token of affection;

The remaining eighty pounds was raised, by parishoners' collections.

T'was supplied by well-known Croydon firm, Yea, one of reputation,

T'was carted by "Park" waggoner, to church from yonder station,

Horeham Road.

T'is thirty years ago, or nigh, since first it chimed in Chiddingly.

When I did into history delve, t'was fixed I found in 1912.

When thou do'st hear the quarter chime, and hour on tenor bell,

Just bear in mind there many be, that love it's music well.

To make this history complete, the dials in height be just six feet.

Should thou be blest with eyesight keen, the time is seen from Muddles Green,

Aye - from top of Burgh Hill too.



The girdle chain that encircles twice, the base of noble spire,

Doth hold some notes of interest, told often by my sire.

It's actual length in feet, to know I don't pretend to claim,

But my mind on those two figures, seem quite clear though all the same,

That when laid on entrance pavement through gate to porch's door

In feet, when ruled from end to end, was a seven and a four (74)

The weight thereof, at present, I fail to call to mind,

I have it entered somewhere, but that book I cannot find.

But I note in later history book, compiled by recent Priest,

The weight as mentioned therein is, three hundred-weight at least.

The links are most deceptive to sight of human eye,

At first thou'd scarce believe it, if thou should'st see them lie

That pair of feet of moderate man, placed together side by side -

Pass easily through to foremost hole, in latchet's opening wide.



There be one thing more I now will state, which one feels worthy to relate;

If enchanting view thou would'st behold, then climb that winding stairway old,

To Belfry up above.

I found this so, when but a boy, -

Yea, many a time I did enjoy, to sit up in yon louver holes,

And watch for ship's main rigging-poles. Through spyglass.

On summer's day with clear blue sky, ships may be seen with naked eye.

Our British coasters, as of old, with wheat, and coal, and wealth untold,

And stately liners, - best ever seen,

in days of old, hath borne Kings and Queen,

Past Pevensey Bay.

In days of old, when boys were bold

One saw them up the rigging,

thou ask what they were doing there?

"Well", they was landmarks twigging.

I have heard old sailors say before,

Our coast can boast of nigh a score,

but the one they liked the best to spy,

Was the grand old spire of Chiddingly.

A goodly sign. It is seen from all the seven hills, that's in this parish found,

no matter where that hill maybe, t'is seen for miles around.

T'is seen from yonder Beacon, from Brightling Needle too,

t'is seen from yonder Cuckmere, when looking valley through.