… ‘a Norman cathedral in miniature’
Simon Jenkins, England’s Thousand Best Churches
The fine Norman church is all that remains of the original 12th century Hospital. Building began in 1135 at the east end with the north porch added nearly 200 years later. The walls are over one metre thick and built from stone brought from as far afield as Caen (in Normandy), Dorset and the Isle of Wight, as well as some flint taken from the local chalk pits.
On a column on the north aisle is carved the cross of St Cross. In the window nearest to the eastern side of the north transept, the stone surround is strangely angled. Sunlight from the window falls on the cross only on 3rd May (the day in the church calendar of the Invention of the Cross) and 14th September (Holy Cross Day).
Used daily as the private chapel that it is, the church can be visited by parishioners of St Cross or as part of a tour of the whole almshouse.
The church is open to all for Sunday services. It is available for private services to parishioners of St Cross and, by agreement with the Master, to non-parishioners, for weddings and memorial services. Please contact the Master, the Revd. Reg Sweet, on 01962 853525.
It is also available for concerts and similar bookings, subject to the suitability of the material. To make this kind of booking please contact the Deputy Clerk to the Trustees, Julie Winks, on 01962 878218.
To enquire about visits, including groups, please contact the Porter, Catherine Secker, on 01962 851375.