Short history of All Saints’ Church, Minstead
The church mentioned in The Domesday Book had been a site of Christian worship since at least Saxon times and the building contains architecture and furnishings that reflect its history.
The present building, including the doorway, dates from the 12th century with a remodeled Norman chancel arch from two centuries later.
The earliest piece of furniture is the font which could be as early as the end of the 11th century. For years, probably after Cromwellian times, it lay buried in the vicarage garden from where it was recovered and replaced in the church in the 19th century.
The pews are made from forest oak and date back to the 17th century. `Private’ pews built by local notable families on the north side resemble small sitting rooms with a fire place each. The south transept was enlarged in the 19th century to accommodate all the Minstead estate workers, the patron and his family.
The three-Decker pulpit dates from the 17th century, with woodwork from an even earlier age. It reflects the hierarchical traditions of that society with the parish clerk answering the `Amens’ in the lowest section the reader, and the preacher appearing in ascending order.
The two galleries date from the 18th century, one built to accommodate the musician and a second for the children of the school in 1818, with the present bell tower being added some 50 years earlier, with bells dating from the 15th century.
Both Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his wife are buried in the churchyard.