Churches of Sussex

Another area in which Sussex has much to be thankful for is the History of the Church in Sussex.  Like most counties churches became a requisite of a local area and indeed was the hub of village and countryside alike.
Icklesham Church Drawing by Nibbs

Manors and country houses often had their own chapel or church on the land and workers were actively encouraged to use the church and it's services as part of their daily lives and indeed the population embraced the church as being outside the protection of the church could get you branded as a heathen, witch, or even worse.  Coupled with the promise of being sent straight to hell should you not follow the path of righteousness given by the teachings of the church seemed to keep most of the population in weekly attendance, Sunday being the day most favoured.

Whatever the reasons for ecclesiastical buildings being so popular, it most be said that they are the most prolific reminders of history we have in England today.  Landowners built churches of stone which have stood the test of time in the hope that this would give them an easy passage to heaven and these in turn were used by the working population as a center of their lives and heritage.

Births were recorded here, usually by the one person who could do so, the priest, monk or other ordained person.  Deaths too were written so that people could be followed back in time and family traced should the need arise.  Baptisms were considered a necessity so that your soul would be taken to heaven in the event of your death.  These were real fears of the time and made more so by the priest themselves who often went to great pains to ensure that their flock were aware of the horrors that awaited those who did not take shelter in the church.

Whilst still a large part of our daily lives and cherished by all, churches have found their popularity somewhat diminished and the use of these buildings have been underused in recent years and in their present state provide a somewhat conundrum for the church itself.  With falling attendances and in turn reduced earnings, the churches have become a drain on monetary resources.  Many have been left to quietly fade from their former glory days, and some have either been sold off or even allowed to go to ruin.     Others have been taken under the wing of very active members of the church including the priests and vicars themselves and with the help of volunteers have transformed some churches into hubs of their local community.

They remain however, a record of English history from around 800AD to the present day and in between you will find a plethora of  types, shapes and sizes of some of the most wonderful buildings that you may visit.  Housing beautiful treasures such as carvings, fonts, chests, architecture and much more, I for one will always find them a place that remains special in my heart.

I see churches not just as buildings or edifices, but as the holders of the energies of souls throughout the ages.  A little poetic I know, but they do feel wonderful when I visit them or spend time around them and this I put down to the energies of the place I am visiting.  But do not just take my word for it - visit them yourselves and see what I am talking about.  Failing that, have a look a the churches listed in the Sussex Churches section.

In this section of the website you will find references to the churches of Sussex - split into smaller areas to help in navigation.
Please be aware that most of this information is written, collated and photographed by myself for the website and as such will not be complete for some time!
 
If a church you have a particular interest is not listed here, it is only because I have not had the time to visit it yet. Sussex is certainly blessed when it comes to its wide variety of churches within it's boundaries. These hold many treasures of craftsmanship and architecture that would satisfy even the most demanding travellers.
 
Many churches are still set in idyllic surroundings, and many more have been surrounded by modern living, but are none the less exquisite to behold. Whatever your beliefs in religion may be, it must be said that churches hold a special place in our lives and keep a strong link to our pasts. These places of worship were not only built with love, care and affection, but kept with such qualities throughout the ages and changes that have occurred over the years.
 
These pages will increase in size when I have the time to expand them and will include many related topics such as 'Brass Rubbings', Stone and Wood carvings, interesting architecture, etc.
 
The churches of England have long received support from the monarchs of this land throughout the ages with the most notable exception of Henry VIII, who through his own agenda brought about the Dissolution of the Monastaries.  During the Dissolution many of the religious orders in England were persecuted and destroyed entirely. There were signs that the whole Monastic system was in decline in Sussex with recruitment becoming difficult, duties unperformed and buildings falling into disrepair.
 
In 1477 the Prior of Sele was summoned to appear at an enquiry held by the Bishop in the Chapel on St. Mary, situated on the great stone bridge at Bramber, to answer charges not only of having allowed the bridge to fall into disrepair, but also of virtually embezzling Priory funds in expensive living. In 1478 the Prioress of Easebourne Nunnery, as well as two of her nuns, was accused of gross immorality and of consuming the Priory's resources in hunting and extravagant entertaining. Similar complaints were widespread.
 
As with most things, the good suffered with the bad. Schools and hospitals maintained by the Monastic orders were closed.  Of the ecclesiastic establishments at the time, forty one disappeared completely, and only in eleven was there anything left above ground of the domestic buildings

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