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St Nicholas, Alfold, Surrey

(51°5′45″N, 0°31′13″W)
TQ 037 340
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Surrey
now Surrey
medieval Winchester
now Guildford
  • Sabrina Harcourt-Smith

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This is a heavy Wealden Church with walls of plastered Bargate sandstone. At first glance it looksc.1300, but in fact was built in five general phases. Masonry in the chancel and W walls outlines the original plain nave and square chancel ofc.1100. The late Romanesque three-bay S arcade was addedc.1190-1200. The three-bay N aisle was addedc.1290-1300, with unusual arch mouldings; the chancel and chancel arch are early 14thc. Chancel additions, spire, belfry and bell-cage are 15thc. Victorian work consists of the N aisle and vestry. N aisle was rebuilt by Woodyer in 1845, but retains its original arcade. A vestry was added at the NE in 1894.


No mention in Domesday Book. This was probably because the settlement of Alfold appears to have been an unrecorded, southern outpost in the multi-vill estate of Bramley (qv) since pre-conquest times. This 40-hide holding formed the western half of the large Blackheath hundred, and included at least six other settlements (English and Turner 103 ff, fig. 8.1). The church listed in the Shalford entry of 1086 appears to have been that at Alfold, its local outlier. The earliest mention of Alfold, in the 13thc. records that it was attached to Shalford Manor (Blair, 122; English and Turner, 110). A charter of William Longspee, son of the Earl of Salisbury, records that the advowson, with the Manor of Shalford, is given to John, son of Geoffrey Earl of Essex, who died in 1256 (VCH 80, 110). 'Alfold' meant the 'old fold' or clearing enclosure for cattle (information from history board in church vestry).

Benefice of Alfold and Loxwood.


Interior Features






The overall visual impact of the S arcade is of a very late Romanesque style, bordering on the Transitional. The pier faces or surfaces have been repaired in a rather piecemeal way with numerous patches of white, lime-based plaster. Probably done in the 1950s (local builder's opinion). VCH likens the decoration of the font with blind arcading and Maltese crosses to that at St. Mary, Yapton, West Sussex.

Victoria County History; Surrey, III, 1911, 79f and plan.
Anon, St Nicholas, Alfold,Guide booklet available in church.
F. R. Banks, Surrey, The Penguin Guides, New Series 1956, 134f.
W.J. Blair, Early Medieval Surrey; Landholding, Church and Settlement before 1300, Alan Sutton and Surrey Archaeological Society, 1991.
M. Blatch, Churches of Surrey, Chichester: Phillimore, 1997.
J. English and D. Turner, 'Medieval Settlement in the Blackheath Hundred', Aspects of Archaeology and History in Surrey: towards a Research Framework for the County, ed. by J. Cotton, G. Crocker and A. Graham, Surrey Archaeological Society, Castle Arch, Guildford, 2004.
M. Blatch, 'Surrey', in: S. Humphrey, Churches and Chapels - Southern England,, Blue Guide, 1991, 253.
I. Nairn and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Surrey, 2nd ed.1971, rev. by B. Cherry, repr. 1990, 95f.