Thursday, 28 May 2009

The Church of the Good Shepherd

Pevsner states in the Sussex volume of his Buildings of England series that Lullington church '..will not easily be forgotten'. Once visited, I am sure you will agree.

The church is one of those which has lost its village: what remains of this little hamlet is now at the bottom of the hill, half a mile away. Just a single house stands next door.

The easiest approach to the church is in fact from Alfriston, via the footpath which crosses the 'white bridge’ over the Cuckmere River. You continue straight ahead, cross the South Downs Way, walk up a short flight of steps to the right of Plonker’s Barn, and rise gently up the hill until the path enters a thickly wooded copse. Just beyond the copse is the little clearing where the church sits. There is a narrow, slippery brick path ahead to the adjacent lane, but it’s hard to find from the road.

Once there, it becomes clear that it is not just its remoteness that makes it special: this is Sussex’s smallest church, and may well be the smallest in England. Once rather larger, the church is said to have burned down in Cromwellian times, and the villagers rebuilt only the Chancel (and not even all of that) as their church. It seats just 20 people; services are held in the summer only, as there is neither heating nor lighting.

The exterior is of flint, with a red tiled roof and a weather-boarded and shingled bell turret. The extent of the original church can be traced on the ground. Inside, the details inside suggest a late 13th century or 14th century date, with Early English and trefoil lancet windows, and a small piscina. But it is the atmosphere you come here for, not the architecture, and that is very special indeed.

Lullington (off the Litlington to Wilmington lane), East Sussex, BN26 5QY

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