that was an early manifestations of the Decorated style and this fits perfectly with the 1300 rebuilding date. Yet the priest’s door is round-headed which is a little surprising one hundred years into the Gothic era. Perhaps it was re-used from the original church? To the south also is a gothic window set within a blocked archway. The archway led to a demolished chantry chapel that has been dated to about 1330. This would also have been something of an oddity. Chantry chapels were all the rage at this time, of course, but the addition of a tranverse chapel on such a small parish church is unusual. The addition of an aisle with an eastern chapel (as at Stow Longa below) would have been the more usual solution. Its total disappearance presumably dates from the Reformation when private chantry chapels were proscribed. Similarly intriguing is the high blocked opening on the south wall. Once again, Covington Church intrigues us! There is no sign within the church of access to the rood loft that this church certainly would have had. It seems likely then that this opening was to give the required access from the outside. The tower dates from the fourteenth century. There is no spire but the church’s historians have good evidence to suggest that there was a spire that was removed after the great storm of 1703 that devastated southern England with winds that may have reached 120 mph.
Finally, before we get on to the tympanum, there is a further mystery. At each end of nave there are double openings at gable level. What were these for? Perhaps at the western end they have a view into the church from a tower room? But why have two? Were the ones at the eastern end above the chancel arch associated with the rood loft? Again why was it a double opening? Just to compound all this, the chancel also has an opening at that level; in this case a single one. Perhaps whoever was peering into the nave from that elevated point also needed to be looking into the chancel? As you look through this to the openings at the east end of the nave you are struck by the apparent discontinuity in the wall. It’s as if the west wall of the chancel and the east wall of the nave are separate entities. Neither Church Guide nor Pevsner mentions these openings but I find them most mysterious! As those in the nave are pointed arches they must be later than the Norman nave itself. It seems reasonable to assume then that all of the openings date from the 1330 rebuilding of the chancel. In every way, I find Covington church a most puzzling place!
So to the tympanum which is on the north side. The theme is simple and clear; a griffon (evil) confronts a lion (good). There are no sub-themes or images and the carving is well-executed compared with the others shown on this page. Of further interest is the “strap work” (iron fittings) which is ancient, if much repaired, and which the Church Guide suggests is one the oldest examples of “split curl ironwork” in the country.