Art – Faith – Community – Environment
St Michael and All Angels church in Berwick (East Sussex) is most well-known for its extensive Twentieth Century paintings by Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and Quentin Bell, which were commissioned during the Second World War by Bishop Bell.
It is a unique example of the complete decoration of the interior of ancient parish church by modern artist of repute and is of national importance. It is situated in the beautiful South Downs National Park with spectacular views of the escarpment of the Downs to the south.
Our vision is twofold;
1: to offer the church and its natural surroundings as a spiritual sanctuary and place of retreat, enabling others to experience the natural beauty of the environment, the creativity of art, the spirituality of the church, its historic continuity and Christian tradition.
2: to promote the importance of, and provide the opportunity for, contemporary artists to make their unique contribution to the life of church.
We offer this in four main ways; art, faith, community and environment.
Art: The Bloomsbury paintings at Berwick Church are a result of Bishop Bell’s conviction that the contemporary artist has an essential contribution to make to the life of the church. We continue to promote and facilitate that vision and look for new ways of enabling the contemporary artist to engage with the life of the church.
Faith: We welcome groups of all faiths and of no faith to the church. The beauty of the setting of the church lends itself to contemplative spirituality and creative activities. We hope that visitors and groups may have an experience that inspires faith. Also, that they will have learnt about the Christian tradition and the church community. We hold services each week – Please see the Worship and Services section of our website.
Community: We particularly want to find ways of enabling those who may not have had an experience of church, art or the countryside before to visit the church. Please see our Outreach and Activities for more details.
Environment: The church sits on a rise within the South Downs National Park with spectacular views of the escarpment to the south. This natural resource provides the opportunity to teach about the environment and the importance of our relationship with the natural world. The context allows the exploration of a spiritual dimension to this relationship. For a number of years, the churchyard has been managed to encourage the diversity of wildflowers and bird boxes have been put up to encourage nesting. Guided walks provide the opportunity for bird and plant identification.
In Spring 2019 the church was awarded a National Lottery Heritage Fund Grant providing 63% of the cost of restoring and conserving the paintings in Berwick Church. We still need to raise more funds to complete this urgent and challenging project. Please make a donation. For more information see 'Saving Berwick'