There is a joint benefice of St. Mary’s Walberton with St. Mary’s Binsted and the vicar of Walberton is also the Rector of Binsted.
St. Mary's Walberton
St Mary’s is a family church catering for people of all ages and a village church reflecting many different approaches to worship, which people find valuable in Walberton, both informal and traditional. In our worship we seek to uphold what God has done in Jesus as the centre of our faith. Our teaching and group programmes are centred largely on the Bible, although we also tackle topical and historic issues.
The church membership crosses all the age groups and this is reflected in the worship services which include both traditional and contemporary. At 9am there is a traditional service accompanied by the organ and a robed choir. The main Sunday Service, at 10.30 is an all age service with an informal style, with a communion service once a month followed by coffee. A Sunday School is a part of this service. At 6.00pm there is traditional evening service following a similar structure to the 9.00am service.
There are regular weekly meetings for Bible Study, prayer and pastoral support in home groups, a short Parish Prayers on Tuesday mornings at 8.30am, an active Mothers' Union group and also a group for younger women (RAFT). Young people meet on Fridays most weeks and the church runs a CoffeeStop in the Sports Pavilion each Friday morning, providing a friendly meeting place for all. A group meets each Tuesday to help maintain the churchyard which is a haven of peace on the edge of the village.
The church was built about 1000 years ago and updated over the centuries. It has a short spire, typical of many Sussex churches.
History of St. Mary's Walberton
St Mary’s church has been a part of the village for many centuries. There is archeological evidence in the churchyard of settlement from Bronze Age times, about 3500 years ago, as well as some Roman brick and tile fragments found during excavations in 1992. A church was recorded in the Domesday Book but the precise date of this church is unknown.
The current building has been rebuilt and altered many times over the centuries. The main nave is of pre-Conquest date, the walls being pierced by a series of arches of the 12th century. The chancel and side aisles were added in the 13th century. A major renovation took place in 1903 when there was controversy over the alterations which led to new controls being introduced throughout the country to ensure that churchwardens did not damage the architectural heritage of their church. In 1992/3 the present vestries, meeting room and bellringers gallery were built at the back of the church, including a toilet for the first time in 900 years!
Centrally at the back of the church is an unusual tub font where many generations of Walberton’s children have been baptised. It has probably been in Walberton since early Norman times but was lost for a time, to be rediscovered on a local farm where it had been used as a cattle trough!
In appearance the church may be neither magnificent nor unique but it is typical of many Sussex village churches, with flint walls and steep tile roofs. The tower is surmounted by a shingle clad spire and topped by a gilded weathercock.
In the roof space above the chancel ceiling there is a colony of pipistrelle bats which are counted annually, some years it can number well over 300.
The churchyard is approached through a solid timber lychgate which was erected in 1920 as a war memorial. There are many fine mature trees in the churchyard including a huge yew tree, probably dating back 1000 years.
The churchyard served the village as a burial place for many years and was extended around 1950. That extension is now full and some adjacent land is being acquired to extend the churchyard further to meet the needs of an expanding village.
The church is not just a building; it is the gathering together of people who come to worship God week by week and maintain a Christian witness to the village, uninterrupted for 1000 years.
Our sister church St. Mary's Binsted
St Mary's Church Binsted, whose weathercock is the Binsted village website icon, has since the 12th century been our well-loved place of worship, and of our christenings weddings and burials.
At present it has a service on the first Sunday of every month, together with special services such as Rogation, when blessing is asked upon the spring crops with a pilgrimage across the fields, Harvest and Christmas Carols. It is also our gathering place for concerts, village meetings, talks.
See Links for more information on Binsted and its church