Churchyard tidy up Worth the effort

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Let’s FACE it! stands for Focus Action for Crawley’s Environment.

Here, Ruth Growney, Crawley Borough Council’s Let’s FACE it! Co-ordinator, describes a churchyard tidy up at St Nicholas Church, Worth.

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There was a peaceful project for Let’s FACE it! this week, working with Worth Conservation Area Group in the beautiful setting of the churchyard of St Nicholas Church.

St Nicholas Church has been described as one of the most perfect specimens of a Saxon building in England, and it is easy to see why with parts dating back to probably between 950 and 1050 AD.

When it was built, the church sat at a meeting point of tracks through a forest and existed for hundreds of years in almost total rural isolation.

The church is a Grade I listed building and worth a visit; if only to see the ‘devils door’ in the north wall which, although blocked up, can still be seen from inside the church.

It is said that evil spirits were driven out through this door which was left open during baptisms. Also of note is the chancel arch which is the tallest Saxon arch of its kind in the country!

Outside the church there is a timber lychgate, which is a Grade II listed structure in its own right and dates from the 16th or 17th century.

So the church provides an absolute wealth of history right on our doorstep in our “new town”.

The working party had been asked by the rector if they could lend a hand in tidying up the churchyard. Let’s FACE it! were pleased to be able to help as well.

We spent the morning dodging the showers whilst clearing and raking up long grass, tidying overgrown areas around some graves and even successfully re-homing a frog and a toad along the way.

We eventually had to stop to make way for a wedding.

There are some stunning trees within the churchyard – including several unusual varieties of oak tree and a beautiful blue cedar of considerable age which can be found at the rear of the church.

The Worth Conservation Area covers an area of 35 acres and is situated just within the south-eastern boundary of Crawley.

Worth Conservation Area was designated by the council in March 1987 when the importance of preserving and enhancing the character of the setting of St Nicholas Church was recognised.

The group is formed of local people who care about the area and are always looking for ways to improve it.

They care for the wider area of Worth by looking after the Worth Way, arranging working parties to tidy vegetation, clear litter and plant trees or wildflowers in the area.

The group meets every other month at the Town Hall.

To get involved, contact The Revd Canon Anthony Ball at rector@worthparish.org.uk or call 01293 882229.