In a relatively remote corner of the South Downs, Up Marden is one of several villages in West Sussex which are less important than they were in the Middle Ages. Some, like nearly Monkton, have disappeared completely. Others, like Up Marden, carry on in reduced circumstances.
One positive effect of this decline is that the amazing church on the outskirts of the village has hardly been touched for the best part of a thousand years. It's true that a bit of redecoration has been done from time to time - were this not the case then the fragments of wall paintings (above) which were gleefully whitewashed in the Reformation might not have been rediscovered.
But St Michael's is an exceptional place for the sense of simple yet irresistible piety that permeates the place. In an excerpt from an article for the Spectator which is printed in the church Simon Jenkins gets it just right when he says "These places disturb us unbelievers...this power does not respect belief or unbelief".
You could miss the church of you weren't looking for it. Like St Mary's Church at North Marden, it's hidden away down a flinty farm track, with no car park, no gateway to the church yard and just a few ancient tracks between the trees to guide you in.
- Bognor Regis
- Burgess Hill
- East Grinstead
- Haywards Heath