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Incredible Worthing Church

Worthing Church with Sistine Chapel Ceiling

From the outside, the Church of the English Martyrs looks like an ordinary church in an ordinary street in Worthing, and yet it has the most incredible Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Worthing Church with incredible ceiling

I’ve come to realise quite late in life, that whatever your take on religion, churches and other places of worship are some of the most interesting buildings around. For example, there is the church at Hardham near Pulborough with its 12th century frescoes, and (putting aside its ceiling for a moment) the Church of the English Martyrs has some fascinating stained glass windows including the Peter the Fisherman’s window made with glass from a nearby convent and designed and made by local mother and son artisans. But it is the ceiling for which this church will always be famed.

Worthing Church with Sistine Chapel Ceiling

The Sistine Chapel ceiling comes to a Worthing church

The story of how a 2/3 replica of the original ceiling in the Sistine Chapel (in perfect proportion) and in almost identical colours came to be in Sussex is a simple one. A local man, Gary Bevans, who is a self-taught artist and was a sign writer, visited Rome in 1986/7.

Worthing Church with Sistine Chapel Ceiling

When he came home, he asked for permission to replicate the Sistine Chapel ceiling in his local Worthing church, and in an astonishing act of faith, the Bishop agreed. It took 5 and a half years to complete and is the only known copy in the world.

Worthing Church with Sistine Chapel Ceiling

Just in case you don’t remember, the Sistine Chapel ceiling was painted by Michaelangelo between 1508 and 1512 and includes a number of scenes from the Book of Genesis.

Worthing Church


I had read about the ceiling over the years and before I visited, and I thought I had the measure of it. But nothing quite prepares you for its magnitude. It’s vast, bold, bright, and completely astonishing. The staff are really welcoming and there are mirrored trollies you can use to see the ceiling without straining your neck looking up. Or you could just lie on the floor.

Worthing Church with Sistine Chapel Ceiling

Photos don’t really do it justice but a visit won’t take long. So if you find yourself in Goring by Sea, you’ll find the church in Goring Way. Take a moment to pop in and absorb the amazing talents and vision of a local man.

If you like this post about the Worthing church with a Sistine Chapel ceiling, you may also like:

12th century frescoes at Hardham 

The Mysterious and Sad Tale of the Sussex Ides

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