The Church of St Peter ad Vincula lies in the small hamlet of Folkington on the northern edge of the South Downs, where it is the only community building. It is a classic example of a Sussex Downland church, being of simple plan and built entirely of thick ﬂint walls, unspoilt by restoration. The nave and chancel blend seamlessly at the same height inside, thereby ensuring superb acoustics for musical performances and singing. The ﬁrst recorded priest at Folkington was Gervase in 1226 (during the reign of King Henry III), and the core of the Early English building is still of this period.
Grade I listed, this includes the late Georgian pulpit and box pews. There is a 15th century king-post roof over the nave and a bell-tower with an inscribed bell of the same period. A restoration programme of c.1870 built the Victorian vestry, the East window (with its pressed slab glass by Powell and Company), and a ﬁne tiled ﬂoor made by Maw and Company. The organ was installed in 1917 by Henry Speechly and Sons, and given to St Peter’s by Mary Earle Gwynne of Folkington, in memory of the village men who lost their lives in the Great War (and as a tribute to those who returned).
There is a singular collection of monuments and memorials, including a low-relief carving of The Risen Christ by the renowned Sussex sculptor John Skelton. The Churchyard contains various gravestones of historical interest, especially the memorial to the renowned cookery writer Elizabeth David (itself a work of art by Sussex Lettercutter and Stonemason Geoffrey Aldred).
Although seemingly isolated, St Peter’s is in the South Downs National Park, on the route of the Wealdway footpath and bridleway, and also close to the South Downs Way. Consequently, over the year the church receives huge numbers of visitors, many of them walkers. The comments in the church Visitors’ Book show that many people look on St Peter’s as a tranquil resting-place, where they can pray, reflect and read.
There is a regular Sunday service, with special services following the festivals of the Church’s Year. Within the Cuckmere Benefice, of which St Peter’s is a part, there is a special Advent Sunday service with visiting choir. All services continue in the tradition of the Book of Common Prayer and the Authorised Version of the King James Bible, and in this way the church is unique in the area, and a special reminder of the legacy of Anglicanism in national culture. You can see services for the month here.
Weddings and baptisms are conducted from time to time in the church, and any inquiries should be made to the Rector and the Churchwardens here.
The church is usually open daily until dusk.
If you click once on a gallery photo below, it will open to a full size image.