St Cuthman was an 8th century Saxon saint who settled in Steyning, and founded the first church. He is said to have been wheeling his invalid mother in a handcart when it broke. This was seen as a sign from god that he should establish a church close by.
St Cuthman is depicted in three stained glass windows in St Andrew’s and St Cuthmans’s Church in Steyning. You can see him as a shepherd, as a builder and in the one in the photo with his mother in a handcart
You can also see a modern sculpture of St Cuthman’s was made to commemorate the millennium: He is looking across the road at his church.
The Norman Church
The church built by the Normans in the late eleven hundreds was nearly twice the size of the present building. It had transepts and a much longer chancel than the present 19th century one. It also had two extra bays at the west end of the nave, where the 16th century flint chequer work tower now stands.
The earliest part that remains is that which now forms the chancel arch. The surviving bays of the nave arcade, built around 1170-1180, have truly wonderful carving on most of the arches and capitals with no shortage of the customary zigzags and scallops as well as many less conventional motifs and designs.
This picture shows the beautiful church of St Leonard in South Stoke village, near Arundel, West Sussex.. It was recorded in the Domesday Book – a great land survey from 1086, commissioned by William the Conqueror – when the village was named as “Stoches”.
To find the church head for Arundel then travel down Mill Road until the road ends in a t-junction. Turn left, following the signpost to South Stoke. Go beyond the entrance to the farm and turn left with the road – the gate to the church is down a (signposted) short pathway to the right, about one hundred yards further on. Well worth finding!
South Stoke is about a half hour drive from Steyning and close to the South Downs.
St Botolph’s Church has been referred to by a historian as one of the ‘lost downland churches”. It is in a peaceful spot next to the River Adur. Pay a visit and admire the clean lines and perfect setting of the small, attractive church!
The building dates to about 950 AD, and Saxon construction can be seen in the south wall and chancel arch. The slender tower, though it looks Saxon, is actually a 13th century addition, as is the chancel, which replaced a Saxon apse. At the west end of the south wall is an original round-headed Saxon window. The church also has fragments of medieval wall painting …
The Saxons took advantage of the power vacuum in Sussex left behind by the Romans when they could no longer afford to maintain outlying parts of their empire in the fifth century. When the people of Sussex asked Rome for help in defending themselves from Saxon raiders, the Empire decided it couldn’t afford to strike back and left Britain to fight for its own future.
The name Sussex comes from an adaptation of the name South Saxons.
This lovely small church is just a couple of miles from Steyning & within easy reach of Brighton. I have walked there from nearby Bramber following the River Adur.
Steyning is a fascinating place if you love history: The small rural town pre-dates the Norman Conquest.
St Cuthman, a Celtic saint from c8 or c9, is alleged to have arrived here pulling his sick mother in a cart. When the tow rope broke he assumed that this was a sign from God that Steyning was where he should stay. He built built a wooden church – and administered to the needs of his adopted flock. After his death, the church became a place of pilgrimage. The sea was much closer by in those days and so a port of St Cuthman was built on the River Adur nearby. The church at Steyning was part of a monastery …
The church was rebuilt in later years on the same site. Inside the building, is a truly glorious Norman nave, complete with the most beautifully harmonious decorations and carvings.