Southease St Peter

What you need to know about this church

St Peters Church Southease

Where to find this church

Church Information

St Peters church is located in Southease, a village in Sussex about halfway between Lewes and Newhaven.

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Southease St Peter church
Church from the Green
Southease St Peter church
Tower from the west

Visiting Southease St Peter

St Peter’s in Southease is the only of the three Round Tower Churches in East Sussex we did visit after we had watched a Rugby World Cup match in Brighton, and took some photos of it in the sunshine (and had a nice picnic on The Green opposite it). The 12th century tower here is round, with a conical shingled spire, which develops into a polygonal shape at the top. There is a ground floor window framed with 18th century (?) red brick. Above this is part of the north jamb of an early window, but no indication of how its arch was formed. The only other window is slightly east of north, with its pointed arch about level with the ridge of the nave. There appear to be no signs of other windows in the tower that have been blocked. There are two 12th century windows in the nave, one west of the south porch, and the other near the east end of the north nave, which is blocked. The west quoins are early, being made from rough blocks, of sandstone? The nave and chancel are now both in what was the original nave, and the foundations of the earlier square chancel to the east are now buried, but it used to project on to what is now The Green.  There are traces of large blocked arches on either side of the present chancel, which may had been for aisles or “portici” circa 1150. These arches were filled in during the 14th century. The Church is roofed with red tiles, except for the lowest three courses, which are made of Horsham slabs.

There are faint traces of extensive wall paintings on both the north wall and the west wall. The north one, from about 1250, shows scenes from the life of Christ, the entry into Jerusalem, Christ before Pilate, the scourging, and the Crucifixion. The west wall shows paintings from 1275-1300 below a zig-zag frieze, of Christ in Majesty in a star-strewn mandorla, and symbols of the Evangelists, with the bull (Luke) and eagle (John) to the north. Below them is a consecration cross, from when the church was first consecrated by the Bishop. The font stands in the south-west corner of the nave, and it is a 12th century square one on a solid base, with some restoration work. There is no longer a Rood screen, but it has been replaced by a modern timber arch. Above, on the west side, are early 18th century cherubs and texts. The pulpit/lectern is made up from an old 18th century three-decker pulpit. The altar is 16th century and the altar rails, with turned balusters are probably 17th century.

Conclusion: nice village church in a pretty setting with ancient wall paintings

Southease St Peter church
Southease St Peter church
Wall painting