St Thomas’ is steeped in history. Built as a chapel for Cliffe in South Malling parish, the dedication to St Thomas à Becket reveals the link to Canterbury through Malling Deanery, and suggests the chapel was founded in the late 12th Century.

Evidence shows the church had at least one aisle in the 13th century, and the chancel may keep the dimensions and even some walls of its possible 12th century predecessor. Following the reconstruction of the church, in the 14th century, the plan of the western part of the church is almost square – the arcades are the best evidence of this. The late 15th century tower is of flint, which appears as an irregular chequer pattern in certain lights. There were galleries in both aisles by the 18th century.

The church, as it is today, is the result of 19th century restoration. The vestry (originally from the 19th century) was extended in 1930 (Meads). An attractive brick courtyard and Cliffe Hall were added in 1990.

1. E H W Dunkin: History of the Deanery of South Malling – II St Thomas-at-Cliffe, SAC 26 (1875)
2. W H Godfrey: Parish Church of St Thomas at Cliffe, Lewes, SNQ 13 (Aug 1951)

3. Colin Brent: Pre-Georgian Lewes
4. The Church of St Thomas the Martyr at Cliffe CGB Books – on sale in the church.

Parish Records – the church’s historic records are kept by the County Archive at  The Keep at Falmer, Brighton.



Almighty God, who through thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ hast overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life: We humbly beseech thee, that as by thy special grace preventing us thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.