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The Smallest Church In Sussex

By Tristan Burke

Overlooking Alfriston and the River Cuckmere; nestling softly in the South Downs, sits Lullington Church - said to be the smallest in England. Built in the 12th century from flint, it is only sixteen feet square. However, it consists only of the chancel of a much larger church, which is said to have been destroyed during the English Civil War.

The church is dedicated to the unknown Saint Sithe, which has some connection to the Gaelic word for "fairy", although is more likely to be related to Saint Sitha: the patron saint of housewives and servants. Its position on the hillside, along with the lack of houses around it suggests that it was built on a druid grove. There is also a large chunk of Sarcen stone (of significance to the pre-Christian Britons and used in Stonehenge) built into one wall.

The church probably began as a chapel-retreat for the monks, and was then handed to Battle Abbey. In the 13th century it became part of the Diocese of Chichester, and was extended in the early 14th century. By the 16th century, a number of rich patrons had bequeathed more money to the church, allowing it to be built to a size roughly three times the size of the remaining structure. The nave was destroyed about one hundred years later, supposedly by Parliamentary troops.

Services are still regularly held and the church is open until dusk.

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