St Mary & St Peter

Wilmington is a Downland village of Saxon origin, the present church was first built around 1200 as a chapel to the adjacent Priory and a feature of the churchyard is the ancient Yew tree, estimated to be 1600 years old, the trunk having a girth of 23ft.

About this church

The church is built from local flint and imported Caen stone. Internally the architecture is a mixture of Norman and Gothic styles, with a 14th century font, carved Jacobean pulpit with sounding board, and a small medieval ‘gargoyle’ depicting the Madonna and Child.

In 2002 a disastrous fire destroyed the north transept including the pipe organ and the beautiful ‘bee and butterfly’ window. Now completely refurbished, the window has been replaced by the wonderful work of stained glass artist Paul San Casciani (see picture) featuring a phoenix as a symbol of the church rising again from the ashes. Mr Casciani also designed a new resurrection window for the West end inspired by the churchyard yew as the Tree of Life; with the quotation, from the Book of Saint Thomas in the Apocrypha ‘Raise the Stone and thou shalt find Me, Cleave the Wood and I am there’.

There are also a number of fine Victorian stained glass windows around the church. The excellent church guide gives a full description of these and many other interesting features of the building.

The 'Wilmington Yew' stands in the churchyard and is believed to be one of the oldest yew trees in Sussex, certainly older than the church itself, since it has recently been dated at around 1600 years old. Its gnarled double stem is a study for many painters and photographers and its girth near the ground is 23 feet. At the foot lies an old Roman stone said to have been found at the bottom of the vicarage well by the village well digger. It now lies over his grave.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Magnificent memorials
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Fascinating churchyard
  • Wildlife haven
  • Social heritage stories
  • National heritage here
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Bus stop within 100m
  • Level access to the main areas
  • Car park at church
  • Café in church

Other nearby churches

SussexLULLINGTONGoodShepherd(annieirving)1

Good Shepherd

Originally part of a much larger building, which was destroyed by fire (probably in the time of Cromwell), the tiny church of The Good Shepherd was rebuilt from the original chancel.

SussexALFRISTONStAndrew(church)1

St Andrew

Standing on high ground beside the thatched 14th century parsonage, the church dates to around 1370, a strangely late date for this part of Sussex.

Supported by National Churches Trust, for people who love church buildings