The plan of the medieval church of Cuddington became evident when the foundations were uncovered during the Nonsuch Palace excavation directed by Martin Biddle. In his report, published in Medieval Archaeology (4 pp143–5) in 1960, he stated that in Period 1 the church was a simple two-cell structure, and is presumably the building mentioned in the early 12th century. This was replaced in the 13th century by a much larger structure and doubled in size in the 14th century, destroyed in 1538. The walls were of mortared flint with Reigate stone dressings and below the earliest floor were a few post holes and traces of burning. These indicate the presence of a wooden building before the Period 1 stone church. An extensive graveyard surrounds the church on all sides and the SE portion was excavated and over 100 skeletons removed to the Duckworth Laboratory, Cambridge, where they were being studied (in 1960) as the first sealed cemetery from a deserted medieval village. We are writing to Mr. Biddle for further information concerning these skeletons and Mr. Nail will be excavating part of the village of Cuddington in the autumn (subject to approval from the Parks Committee).
The only part of the old church surviving above ground is the 15th century tower. There are photographs of illustrations of both the interior and exterior of the old church which were shown at our exhibition, one of which has a sketch plan, but the only attempt at a detailed plan was made by Martin Morris, based on available evidence, and further archaeological investigation is necessary. The stones covering the entrance to the vaults are still in position, and we may apply for a limited investigation at a later date. It was suggested in the Victoria County History that Ewell may have had one of the minster churches (or mother-church) in Surrey, and certainly Ewell gave its name to a large deanery covering half the county, possibly as early as the 9th or 10th century. Chertsey Abbey claimed the ownership of the land on which the church was built from AD 675, and it is probable that a simple wooden church stood on the same site before the stone church was built in the 11th or 12th century. The present church was built on a new site in 1848, still within the Roman/Saxon area and many finds have come from the No.4 churchyard across the road where Stane Street was located last year. If the renewal of the central heating system and other work on the (new) church involves any new trenches or disturbance of the ground below or around the church we will apply to have observers present.
A plan with dimensions and a detailed description of All Saints’ church at Banstead is given in the Victoria County History of Surrey and, although the church is described as ‘over-restored’, it is still possible to see some of the 12th century arches. The VCH suggests that the plan of the nave was retained, the great height and comparative thinness of the walls suggest a possible pre-conquest origin. The church is essentially of the late 12th to early 13th century, restored by Street in 1861. This is therefore the earliest complete church we have in this area.
The only old part of the church of St. Martin of Tours is the 15th century tower (‘recased and modernised’), and the present nave and aisles were built in 1824 when the old church was pulled down. A print of the old church of about that date is mentioned in the VCH, but we have no record of any plan surviving. Brian Hallett recently inspected the gap between the floor of the existing church and that of the old church, and some of his finds including a medieval piscina (a basin used for the washing of sacred vessels after Mass) will be shown in an exhibition of the church’s history later this year (to be staged by the church).
The Lumley Chapel is all that survives of St. Dunstan’s at Cheam (the present church was built in 1864), but several plans and drawings of the old church are displayed in the chapel and were published in C.J. Marshall’s History of Cheam and Sutton. The roof of the Lumley Chapel is a ‘delightful remodelling of 1592 (date on one of the pendants)’, and the chapel contains some very interesting brasses and very good 16th/17th century monuments, and is well worth a visit.
St. Nicholas at Sutton was built in 1864, and there are no above-ground remains of the old church on the same site. Several descriptions are given of the old church in C.J. Marshall’s book, and Douglas Cluett (Senior Reference Librarian) in an interesting summary, ‘Looking at the Past’ in the Official Guide to the London Borough of Sutton, mentions that a church appears to have stood on the site since Saxon times. The building demolished in the 1860s probably dated in part from at least the end of the 13th century. Monuments from the old church were transferred to the present one. We are hoping to start a research group in Sutton shortly to record the memorial inscriptions both inside and outside the church, before these too are destroyed. Mr. Nail has sent a strong letter of protest to Sutton Council concerning the destruction of 20 to 30 gravestones and their incorporation into the road foundations. ‘If vandals were discovered breaking up the gravestones in St. Nicholas’ churchyard with a ten pound hammer it would make the local newspaper headlines and perhaps the national ones as well, so there is good reason why the council should have a conscience on this and consider doing something to undo the harm which has been done!’.