John the Baptist
John the Baptist in Clayton, West Sussex
Read text: John 1 : 23 – 34
|Grid reference : TQ300140 _______ Distance : 3 miles _______ Time : 1.5 hour|
|1 Starting point (click for map)
On the A23, north of Brighton, take the exit for Hassocks on the A273.
On the far side of the hill, turn right into Clayton via Underhill Lane.
Just around the corner on the left is a car park, next to the playing fields.
|2 Heading off
Turn right out of the car park and walk back up the lane until you reach the church.
|† About the Church
Opening Times: Daily
A guide is available inside and there is information online.
The church was built in the 11th century, before the Norman conquest. Many of the features are Anglo-Saxon in origin. Following the Black Death in the 15th century the two chapels to the north and south of the nave were demolished as the congregation was much reduced. Their entrances have been sealed and can still be seen on either side. The lancets are of 13th century origin but the glass in them is from the 19th century restoration. One of the crucifixion bears the words from John 15 : 13. Note also the altarpiece which, along with verses from the Last Supper, has the words of John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world.”
By far the most noticeable features of the interior are the murals. Historians debate whether these are of 11th or 12th century origin as there are signs of both Anglo-Saxon and Byzantine influences. They depict the end of the world and Christ sitting in judgement. It was common to illustrate these Gospel stories as direct access and the ability to read them was, for most, still some way off. These are recognised as being of a very high quality. The paintings produced in 1947 by Janet Baker that adorn the walls make it easier to study the pictures.
|3 Mind how you go …
From the church continue up the lane to the main road.
Take care as you cross the busy A273.
|4 Cross the line|
Stop to admire the fabulous tunnel entrance from the rail bridge.
Carry on around the corner (with the pub on your right) into a straight country lane. Pass a couple of houses and head on for about 100 yards.
|5 Left Turn
At a waymarker, short of the approaching woodland, turn left on to a broad path.
Follow the path up into the woodland.
|6 A bit of a climb
The path narrows and becomes more uneven as it ascends into the Downs.
The land becomes a National Trust Property as you approach a large hill to your right.
|7 At the Crossroads
Leaving the trees and slope behind, you reach a crossroads.
Keep on the path in front of you, hedged on either side.
|8 Look around
As you follow the lane, keep an eye out for:
Carry on until you reach a small playground before emerging onto the road.
|9 In Pyecombe
At the road junction, as you enter the village, turn left and head down to the main road.
Alternatively, turn right for a slight detour to the church.
|10 Take care in crossing
Turn left along the A273 for a short distance and cross over at Pyecombe Golf Club.
Follow the South Downs Way out onto the course, heading up a wide track.
|11 Watch out for flying golf balls
The path ascends and continues on the South Downs Way through the fairways.
Take a minute or two to look at the view behind you, towards Pyecombe. Fantastic … isn’t it?
|12 Top of the hill
At the junction, turn left and follow the sign for the South Downs Way towards Ditchling Beacon.
Keep straight on to reach the windmills, ignoring the right turn for the South Downs Way .
|13 Jack and Jill
Turn right beyond the windmill to enter the car park and walk through to the end.
The windmill is open to the public on Sunday afternoons in the summer.
|14 Take in the views
Go through the gate and, if you haven’t already, stop and look before heading down the hill towards Clayton.
At the bottom, a gate on your left leads to a path through the wood.
|15 Nearly there
Carry on down the twisty path until you reach the car park.
If you didn’t visit the church earlier, now’s the time.
|† Closing Prayer
From the Anglian Liturgy for Advent …
For the desert places in which we walk
|16 Stop for refreshment
If you so desire, food and drink can be consumed at The Jack and Jill Inn on the A273.