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.
The setting is lovely: You look up to the slope of the South Downs on the east side. The River Arun and the wild brooks are on the on the south and west sides.
The village has its own castle – in use as a hotel and wedding venue. Even if you are not staying at the hotel you can walk around the back of the building on your way into the wild brooks.
The Wild Brooks
Whilst you are in the area do visit the Pulborough Brooks. This is an Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) site – open throughout the year and a haven for birds. This area often floods in the winter.
Amberley Working Museum
Another place to see is the Working Museum. This is an interesting use of an old chalk pit above the railway station which is now home to old agricultural and industrial machinery, nearly all of it still functioning.
Many of the houses round here are truly beautiful, with thatched roofs and plenty of lovely old brick and tile work. You can see a couple in my photo below.
Don’t miss a chance to visit this market town. You’ll see medieval streets, old English churches and tiny twittens (a Sussex word for alleyway) . Although surrounded by chalk cliffs, the town is dominated by the remains of a 1000 year Norman castle (seen in my photo). Panoramic views are guaranteed if you climb to the top! The adjoining Barbican House is home to the Museum of Sussex Archaeology with local collections from the Stone Age to medieval times. A mini-cinema tells the story of Lewes from prehistoric to Victorian times.
Anne of Cleves house and Lewes Castle are currently closed (June 2020) due to coronavirus.
Lewes is also home to the town house of Anne of Cleves (fourth wife of King Henry Vlll) which I really love. Both the castle and Anne of Cleves house are open throughout the year. Details at http://sussexpast.co.uk
The town also has many contemporary art galleries and historic & special interest sites including the Priory of St. Pancreas – a former monastery.
You’ll come across numerous small, specialist, independent retailers and a local brewery. I recommend visiting Cliffe High Street. Bookshops, boutiques and antique shops are there as well as individual craft workshops. You’ll also find restaurants, cafes, and pubs offering tasty choices all year round with an emphasis on local produce.
Lewes is one of my favourite towns. I recommend a visit! It is 7 miles from Brighton & a 30 minute drive from Steyning. You can also reach Lewes by public transport.
The gardens are open on Sunday afternoons but you need to book in advance. The house is currently closed due to coronavirus.
I recommend spending time there and visiting the house and gardens at 15th century St Mary’s. This timber framed building was constructed around 1470 by the bishop of Winchester. At that time pilgrims used the house as an inn on their way to the tomb of St Thomas of Canterbury.
The house is open from the end of April to the end of September on Sundays, Thursdays and Bank Holiday Mondays (& Wednesdays in August) from 2 – 6 p.m.
Entry costs: Adults £10; Concessions £9; Children £5
There are also some lovely cottage style tea rooms.
There are two excellent local trails: The Lower Horseshoe and the more challenging Upper Horseshoe. This climbs high into the South Downs and then follows the horseshoe shaped ridge before descending back into the town. Whilst it is a short walk, the climb is fairly strenuous so it is ideal for people who may be short of time but still want a challenge.
The path follows chalk and clay paths which may be muddy after wet weather. There is a long and reasonably steep climb to reach the ridge and some sections of the descent are also a little steep. There are no stiles and just a few gates and kissing gates. Approximate time 1.5 hours.
Start by walking up Sir George’s Place in Steyning – just off the High Street. Turn right up a footpath when you see the tennis courts. Turn left just as you reach an open field for the Lower Horseshoe walk. Keep heading for the trees on the skyline for the Upper Horseshoe walk. Once you approach the trees you will be able to enjoy magnificent views down to Steyning and across the Downs to the east …
Bear left as you walk through the trees. When you leave the trees head along the footpath back down into the town. You will come into Newham Lane and later the High Street.
If you would like a longer demanding walk I suggest walking to Chanctonbury (3 miles) or further to Cissbury (5 or 6 miles).
The George At Burpham is a unique 17th century inn. Burpham itself is a charming small village near Arundel in the South Downs National Park.
The pub has an inviting modern interior and serves seasonal, locally-sourced, freshly-cooked food, beers, wines and spirits.
It is locally owned and aims to live up to the ambition . . . “By the locals, for the locals, of the locals – and a very warm welcome to everyone.”. . . including muddy-booted walkers and well-behaved dogs!
They serve delicious British food – always home cooked with the freshest seasonal ingredients, locally sourced where possible.
This pub is close to footpaths so is a good place to stop if you are hiking locally