St Mary The Virgin, Upwaltham
'The Church In The Field'
Situated on the A285 between Chichester and Petworth, this tiny Grade 1 listed twelfth century drovers’ church lies in a stunningly beautiful valley on the South Downs. Cardinal Manning, a previous incumbent and subsequently Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, described it as “very nearly heaven”.
The smallest of the three parishes of Tillington and Duncton, Upwaltham is within striking distance of the coast and trains to London. The nearest town is Petworth, nearest city Chichester. We have had a successful application for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant and works are ongoing and fundraising underway.
St Mary the Virgin, Upwaltham, has been described as “the church in the field” and has a very special history, even being mentioned in Cobbett’s “Rural Rides”. The population of the parish is only 14 but the Electoral Roll stands at 31 and at Easter, Harvest Festival and Christmas we have upwards of 80 attending services (and the church only seats 60!) with a current age range of 0 - 87. There are about two weddings and blessings annually. We have our own “community” as people feel they belong to Upwaltham and generations of families return from far and wide to attend our country services. The congregation is a veritable cross-section of all social classes.
Our services take place every third Sunday of the month, at 11.30am (except in August). We look forward to seeing you there.
Two air crashes in the Upwaltham Valley during World War II are commemorated by a memorial inside the church.
In memorial we created our own flag, which combines those of the four countries, fluttering in the Sussex breeze. There is now also a Four Nations Memorial Walk, over the South Downs covering the crash sites and memorial cairns.