Given everything we’ve seen in our time of exploring, we decided to kick off 2024 with a relatively humble explore. Bedham Old Church lies in the back end of nowhere in the South Downs National Park. But the beauty of this crumbling structure was still something to behold.
Built in 1880 by locals and the Church of England, the building was used not only as a church but also as a school. According to historians, the single-room church was split in two by a curtain, with younger age classes on one side of the room and more senior classes on the other.
The curtain was removed for services and sermons as well as other events that required the full room.
In 1959, the church was closed and without regular upkeep in the middle of the woods, the structure quickly fell into disrepair. To this day, the majority of the walls remain, but time has not been kind.
We parked close by and walked a few minutes to the church, looking to our left and down the sloping hill, we saw down to the ruins, we carefully made our way down the very slippery hill and up to the walls of the building.
Signs nailed into the building warn us to stay out of the beckoning and crumbling structure, but the colourful display of graffiti tell us that plenty of others have ignored those signs.Inside, the building showed absolutely no signs of its previous history aside from its religious structural appearance. The empty windows and doorways with their large arches overlooked Forest whichever way you looked. The muddy floor was dotted with occasional bricks. The only parts of the structure which stood out as different was a single fireplace, the rounded west side of the structure and the towering east end of the structure, precariously supported by rusting beams.
The east end of the structure was a two storey tall wall with an arch in the top for what must have (presumably) been a bell. Once upon a time, the now non-existent roof of the church would have given this tall wall additional support, but with the entire structure open to the elements, it’s easy to see how this tall wall has become unstable.
The wall is held up on both sides by thick metal beams. They show signs of rust and weathering but it’s likely from prolonged time to the elements and still appear structurally sound.
Although the building is a simple, quick and easy explore, it didn’t detract from just how beautiful the spot is, an abandoned and crumbling church in the middle of a flourishing woodland is something out of a mystical tale. I often enjoy seeing derelict buildings get a new lease of life to fuse the old and the new, but for this building, I hope it stays in this unique state for a long time. There’s something magical about it’s appearance that cannot be explained and I hope other Urbexers get the chance to see the beauty of this place.
Also, keep an eye out for pheasants as one of our team got seriously startled by one…
Last Updated on 1 January 2024 by Michael