Coombs Church, West Sussex

Nestled into the slope of the Downs overlooking the Adur Valley sits one of my favourite churches in Sussex. Coombs church is a little gem which is well worth a visit if you are in the area and have an appreciation for all things medieval.

The church dates from around 1100, with the nave being of late Saxon construction. A very simple church with two rooms, it has still gone through a great deal of changes over the years, with the chancel being built in the 13th and 14th centuries, and windows and other features being added later. However, what makes Coombs special is the impressive collection of wall paintings.

In 1949 a series of wall paintings were uncovered which have remained in good condition to the present day. Most of the designs date from the 12th century, with the earliest dating to around 1135. They depict a variety of stories, including The Visitation, The Nativity of Jesus, Christ in Majesty and Christ delivering the keys to Heaven to Saint Peter. Some have faded and are difficult to discern, while others have maintained much of their original vibrant colour and allow visitors to imagine what it must have been like for its medieval parishioners. My favourite depicts a man grimacing as he struggles to hold up the chancel arch.

Close to a well-kept network of hiking and cycling trails, a stop at Coombs church provides a welcome rest in a beautiful rural setting. Here you can engage with the medieval world, connecting in some small way with the lives of those who lived in the small settlements dotted along the Adur Valley and used Coombs for almost 1,000 years.