Restoration of St Mary's Upwaltham

The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin is a small ancient flint church, sitting within the South Downs National Park and the tiny rural hamlet of Upwaltham. It is a listed Grade I building (see the listing description for more information)

The church is accessible by the South Downs Way, which passes behind the building and it is regularly visited by walkers and cyclists, as well as those passing by on the main A285 road. Described as the ‘Church in the Field’ after Jeremy Godwin’s 1991 guide to the church, the C12 church is one of only three apsidal ended medieval churches in Sussex. A small drovers’ church, of early Norman origins, its’ size has remained little altered throughout the centuries. Within the church is a Memorial Plaque commemorating the two WWII air crashes that occurred in the Upwaltham Valley; a Lancaster bomber with fifteen aircrew in 1944 and a seven-man American Air Force C-47 Dakota in 1945. None of the men survived. The church is visited by their descendants from the UK, Canada, Australia and the USA, and now forms part of a Four Nations Memorial Walk over the South Downs covering the crash sites and the memorial cairns.

However, the building needs urgent repairs to its fabric. It is currently ‘At Risk’ and listed on the Heritage At Risk Register, due to internal and external cracking to the chancel, defective windows and a poor rainwater disposal system.

A Round 1 Heritage Lottery Fund grant has just been completed, and this enabled specific investigations into the state of the building’s fabric, to draw up a Specification of Work and to look for suitable contractors to undertake the repair work needed. Currently a Round 2 application has been submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund requesting a grant for the urgent main repairs, which will enable the building to finally be removed from the Heritage At Risk Register.

The hamlet of Upwaltham is tiny, so fund raising is a big challenge, but supporters have worked very hard to raise the match funding needed for the conservation repairs through a number of different, but well supported events. However, they still need further funds to be able to complete the work.

A decision from the Heritage Lottery Fund on the Round 2 grant application for the main repairs is due by the end of September. This grant would help provide the main funds for the repair project, but the Parochial Church Council still need to raise match funding of another £10,000 so that the project can go ahead. The repair works are due to commence from the middle of October 2018 and should be completed within a year, so the additional funds will be needed at the start of the project. All funds raised

will towards the repair project which include repairs to the following: chancel roof beams, masonry and lime mortaring, internal and external rendering, leaded light windows and a rainwater disposal system. All these repairs will keep the building water and weather-tight for future generations and ensure that visitors and users alike can continue to enjoy the building and its unique historic setting.


David Tupper

Your easy, powerful, and trusted home for help

  • Easy

    Donate quickly and easily.

  • Powerful

    Send help right to the people and causes you care about.

  • Trusted

    Your donation is protected by the  GoFundMe Giving Guarantee.