Up to Up Marden

A walk on the Downs to and from one of Sussex’s most unspoiled medieval churches.


Up Marden & Compton


4 miles (6.4kms)

291ft (89m)

About the walk

Up on the downs are three small churches, all in tiny hamlets: East Marden, North Marden and Up Marden. This walk climbs to Up Marden, the best of the three, but the other two churches are well worth a visit. East Marden is a plain 13th-century church with lancet windows, and a chamber organ that once belonged to Prince Albert. North Marden is a simple Norman church, in effect a room with an unusual apsidal or semi-circular east end, and a rare example of a single ‘cell’ or single roomed church.

Up Marden’s unspoilt church

This lovely old church is set on the edge of a dry valley, in a settlement first mentioned in a charter in about AD 930 as a place ‘which the yokels call Upmerdon’. The 13th-century Church of St Michael is whitewashed inside on unevenly plastered walls, with irregular brick and stone flag floors. All the glass is clear.

The church has escaped heavy restoration. The wagon roof has not had its plaster removed to expose the rafters, as was a normal Victorian improvement; the simple Georgian pews remain in the chancel, along with the turned baluster altar rails; and the font is a simple stone bowl on a shaft. There are a few Georgian wall memorial tablets to local gentry, and the Victorians added pews to the nave, as well as the candelabra and the surprisingly modest stone pulpit.

Some whitewash has been removed to expose wall paintings, including a 14th-century St Nicholas carrying the young Christ, and what appears to be consecration crosses in some window jambs. All in all, the church is a textbook example of how not to strip away the love and care and accretions of countless generations of worshippers.

Walk directions

From West Marden cross the B2146 and continue along Locksash Lane, Uppark House away to your left. Climb and follow the lane as it bears left past a brick and flint cottage to Locksash Farm. Continue to the left of the farm buildings and pass a footpath post.

The track descends to a fork, just inside woods, where you ignore a track to the left, then immediately fork left by a marker post. Descend through old hazel coppicing, and emerge into a field. Continue ahead across the valley floor and then up to marker post in a wood, Grevitts Copse. Shortly the path converges with a track joining from the right, now passing through a sweet chestnut coppice and bearing gently left to the crest. Keep left at a path junction (with power lines now visible) at footpath post and descend, continuing ahead at a footpath junction post.

Emerge from the woods, bear right along the field-edge and follow the field-edge as it bears left, right and left again all the way to a track, with occasional glimpses of Up Marden church through the hedge. At the track bear right uphill and then go right into Up Marden churchyard to visit this delightful downland church.

Return to the track and bear left, initially retracing your steps before continuing on the track downhill to cross a dry valley, following blue arrow markers. It then rises between hedgewows now on a footpath rather than a track, then at the next junction continue ahead on a hard track, dropping and rising to pass through a tree belt, then beside a conifer copse and alongside power lines on your right.

At a junction by a four-way marker post, take the path indicated by the yellow arrow ahead and slightly to the left, into a field entrance and along the hedge on the right to descend steeply towards Compton. At the bottom, turn right at a track junction by a signpost to join the track to descend into Compton village.

At Compton’s village centre, bear right to the church. From the bottom of the churchyard, go left along the path alongside the flint wall and leave the churchyard via steps and back into School Lane, the route by which you entered the village. Bear left and retrace your steps uphill. At the signpost at the path junction passed earlier keep forward on the bridleway and continue climbing out of the valley on the bridleway, levelling out at the crest.

Reaching a track junction, go right. Shortly the track bears left and descends steadily to a junction. Here turn right to retrace your steps back to West Marden.

Additional information

Field tracks and footpaths, lane at the start

Rolling chalk downland and dry valleys, some woodland

On a lead on the lanes and in the villages

AA Walker's Map 20 Chichester & The South Downs

Roadside parking in West Marden village

None on route

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