St Mary’s Church, Treyford
Treyford is a remote little village tucked away under The South Downs between Bepton and Elstead. What makes Treyford unique is that whilst it has no church today, it does have the ruins of two.
The original church in Treyford is known as St Mary’s. Although not mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, parts of the St Mary’s are thought to date back to the 11th Century. However, most of the Nave and Chancel are from the 13th Century.
The church is built from local Green Sand (Malm), with some repairs made in the 18th Century using bricks and flint stones. The church was also noted for its fine wall paintings, but these have all disappeared. In fact, the only remaining features are the Aumbrey (a small cupboard for holding sacred items), the remains of the Lancet Windows and a stone bench that runs along the base of the Nave walls.
Treyford Church was closed in 1849 when Mrs Vernon Harcourt of West Dean Court built a magnificent new church a quarter of a mile up the hill. The new church at Treyford was dedicated to St Peter and was known as ‘The Cathedral of The Downs’. Unfortunately the new church was constructed from poor quality stone and was destroyed by explosives in 1947 when it became structurally unsafe.
In the meantime, St Mary’s fell into further decay. Overwhelmed by trees and undergrowth it was forgotten until 2009 when the site was cleared with a grant from English Heritage.
Treyford Church is now a scheduled monument. It’s right next to Treyford Manor House – park on the road and you’ll see it above you in the trees.