There is a type of church particularly beloved of Diana and myself that we call “Farmyard Churches” - because they are often found next to or very close to a farm. They are defined by their out-of-the way locations and are always very tiny, often just a single cell structure. Of course, they were not built to be next to a farm, but they usually serve tiny communities some of which have shrunk since mediaeval days, or even disappeared altogether. Farms, however, often seem to be comparatively resilient so a kind of symbiotic co-location often results. These churches are always very simple and humble. There are no soaring arcades and grand furnishings. If I were to “find” God, however, I feel it it would be in these rather than in the excesses and smugness of the large urban churches.
“Farmyard Churches”, however, often surprise you. Their remoteness and the poverty of their communities has legislated against constant “improvement” so we are often left with furnishings and decoration that give us a strong insight into the religion and simple lives of their communities.
It is with some delight, therefore, that I feel able to justify Coombes Church as the first of my Sussex pages. This is because humble, little-frequented Coombes Church has stunning mediaeval wall paintings that date back to as far as 1120 and give us insight into the spiritual world of our ancestors of 1000 years ago.