The Church

The beautiful church of St George’s West Grinstead occupies an idyllic rural location by the river Adur, within a large churchyard with mature trees. The church is a palimpsest of architectural and decorative features from the eleventh to the twentieth century. There is a wonderful roof of Horsham slabs, which also form the graveyard path. The interior has a Norman font, two fine mediaeval brasses including one to Jocosa and Hugh Halsham, traces of a mediaeval wall painting of St Christopher,  an eighteenth-century pulpit and a collection of monuments by some of the most notable Georgian sculptors, including JM Rysbrack and John Flaxman. The late-Georgian pews in the nave, painted with the names of local farms, are an unusual survival. There are excellent examples of nineteenth- and twentieth-century stained glass by C.E. Kempe and Walter Camm, as well as  an historic eighteenth-century chamber organ and the oldest Forster and Andrews pipe organ still in use in England.

Our Work

The church and churchyard shelter a rich and diverse population of bats, with Natterer’s, noctule, serotine, common and soprano pipistrelle and brown long-eared bats found in the churchyard and, excitingly, a single Barbastelle pass recorded. The surrounding mature trees and pastures are ideal bat habitat. The Natterer’s bats have a medium sized maternity roost in the church roof and could access the interior prior to 2022. Flying around the nave, they left a lot of droppings and urine stains. The church community struggled with the impacts of bats; they had to clean intensively and cover the monuments either completely or with voiles to protect them.

The Parochial Church Council worked with the Bats in Churches Project to find a solution to the bat mess in the church.  First, the project commissioned a detailed bat survey from Bernwood Ecology, which identified exactly how bats were using the church. The PCC, Bernwood, the church architect  and the project worked together to devise a way of separating the bats from the church interior, while enabling them to roost.  Since the church is Grade 1 listed, the Church Buildings Council advised on proposals.  They recommended that the building environment be monitored for a year prior to any intervention and this was done by Tobit Curteis Associates.

The solution was an ingenious modification of an historic building. A timber ceiling of cedar was re-instated into the south transept, creating a spacious void for the Natterer’s maternity roost. The work was completed in 2022 despite an interruption by COVID. Bats can no longer get inside the church, which is free from bat mess. The monuments are no longer covered and can be seen in their full glory.

West Grinstead case study

St George's West Grinstead longer case study

West Grinstead factsheet

St Georges West Grinstead bat management plan

St George's final bat report

Upcoming events

If you’d like to contact or find out more about the church, visit the website or their page on A Church Near You