Binsted Church - the heart of our rural community
St Mary's Binsted is a pretty, 12th-century flint-built country church: it is also an important, Grade II* listed heritage building which is under threat from the Arundel bypass Grey Route.
The church sits on top of an Iron Age earthwork (clearly visible in the photo), looking out over a steep valley. The valley is a rare ‘flushed fen’ habitat and chalk stream. This church serves the small, spreadout village of Binsted and also the larger village of Walberton nearby. It is a remarkable, open, peaceful setting, within wooded countryside, and people often come to sit on the bench in the churchyard, enjoy the tranquility and simply ‘be’.
The Grade II* listed church was well restored in 1868 by Thomas Graham Jackson. It has a lovely Norman font and Jackson put in a ‘Cosmati pavement’ in the chancel in imitation of mediaeval Italian work. Some of the 12th-century wall paintings remain. The film below gives a fascinated tour of the feaetures of the church and what it would have meant to the community through the years. (A shorter version video can also be viewed on this link.)
The church’s setting is threatened by the new route chosen for the Arundel bypass – the ‘Grey route’, announced 15 October. A dual carriageway would cross the valley on a viaduct a few metres from the church, with traffic passing at the height of the top of the churchyard wall. See www.arundelbypass.co.uk for its parlous situation (including a video of the socially-distanced demo against the road on 23 October, in the field next to the church). The life of the church and the village would also be ruined by the road. There are planning stages to go through, and a majority of local people will fight the road plan and hope fervently that it will be cancelled. It would be so good if more people could come and enjoy its little-known beauty, peace and quiet for the next few years in case this plan goes ahead - and to help prevent it.
One of the graves in the churchyard is that of Michael Wishart, a local artist and bon viveur, son of Lorna Wishart, a Bohemian beauty and lover of Lucian Freud and Laurie Lee. It has the following quote on it by Henry Vaughan, carved in beautiful Italic script: ‘He that hath found some fledg’d bird’s nest, may known/At first sight, if the bird be flown;/ But what fair well or grove he sings in now/That is to him unknown.’ A rosebush planted on his grave is flowering now. The place is full of sweet remembrance; may its spirit not have to endure this harm.
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In normal times 60 or so people can fit in the church, and it has accommodated up to 100 for carol services or weddings. But, if strict 2m physical distancing is required the seats available might be as few as 12. When weather permits, chairs and a speaker and distanced seats are sometimes provided outdoors so that more can attend.
St Mary's Church Binsted, whose weathercock is our 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.
Find us: BN18 0LL
Rector of Binsted: Revd Tim Ward
St Mary's Vicarage, The Street
Walberton, Arundel, BN18 0PQ (01243) 551488
Churchwardens: Carolyn Coles, Penny Hadley
Assistant churchwarden: Kate Mills
Secretary: Sue McNaughton
Treasurer: Edward Martineau
9.00 Holy Communion on the first Sunday of each month
Harvest Sun xx Sept 2023, 4pm, Evensong
Christmas Carols Sat 17th Dec 2022
Christmas Day Sun 25 Dec 2022, 9.00
Easter Sun 9.04.2023, 9.00 Holy Communion
Rogation Sun 14th May 2023, 18.00,
with procession over the fields
starting 17.30 at Walberton Vicarage.
Other activities in the church
See noticeboard in Binsted Lane
PCC and APCM meetings - at Stable Cottage or by Zoom
Please contact Mike Tristram if you wish to have details of these meetings.
Weddings Baptisms and Burials or Interment of Ashes:
if you have a need of any of these and believe you have a qualifying connection with the village, please contact the Rector to discuss.
Our sister church St Mary's Walberton
To come, on this website: features about our special services at Rogation, Harvest, Christmas Carols
Binsted's Christmas carol service: quiet beauty and community jollity in one lovely occasion: