St Andrew’s Church, Edburton

I have to be careful writing about churches. It’s never the case that a church is dull as there’s pretty much always a great history to be discovered. The problem is that the features which make one church interesting tend to be shared with every other church. They all have stained glass, high ceilings, carved wood and so on.

At a glance, St. Andrew’s in Edburton could just as easily be St. Andrew’s on Church Road in Hove though its setting at the foot of the South Downs immediately sets it apart. Of course, it comes with all of the hidden mysteries that one would expect from a building that dates back to Saxon times but it wasn’t that which caught my attention. The great story at St. Andrew’s is one of a community coming together and raising over £300,000 to restore their local focal point.

I was shown around St. Andrew’s by my friend Richard Rawlings who has been involved with the restoration of the Grade II Listed building. Like any good church, St. Andrew’s has a grand pair of front doors with an appropriately huge iron key. So much work has already taken place including the installation of new guttering, heating and a toilet; repointing much of the exterior walls; adding new electrics; and repairing the roof. The new cupboards come courtesy of Ikea.

An extremely tight and steep spiral staircase leads up to the belfry in the Norman tower which houses three huge bells which date from the 17th century and earlier. A ladder followed by a lead hatch leads onto the roof which offers views for miles to the west, north and east. To the south are of course the Downs. A beautiful house exists beside the church that was once the vicarage.

The grounds of St. Andrew’s are appropriate to its rich rural setting and a graveyard surrounds the church itself. One notable grave is that of Hamilton Stuart Howgrave-Graham. Howgrave-Graham was the architect of Crawley New Town. “I think that my ashes may be scattered here one day,” said Richard cheerily. Not for a while yet I hope!

St. Andrew’s ‘Good as New’ clothes sale and art exhibition takes place on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd May. What better a time to combine a visit to the church, local pub and a walk on the Downs? Please call Richard on 01273 857776 for details.