This is why a group of American pilgrims visited Steyning

A group of American pilgrims visited Steyning as part of a six-week trip to the UK.

Pilgrims from America by St Cuthman's Statue SUS-190626-124604001
Pilgrims from America by St Cuthman's Statue SUS-190626-124604001

The 28 students and teachers from Wheaton College in Illinois, who also had five of their children with them, visited Steyning Museum and the Church of St.Andrew and St.Cuthman to learn more about the story and history of the play ‘The Boy with a Cart’ by Christopher Fry.

The play, which the group had been studying, is based on the story of St. Cuthman.

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Stephanie Grant, from Steyning Museum, said: “They started their visit by re-enacting part of the route taken by St. Cuthman and walked from Washington to Steyning along the top of the Downs.

Pilgrims outside Steyning Museum SUS-190626-124543001

“Father Mark met them at Chanctonbury Ring for prayers.

“They continued their pilgrimage into Steyning by admiring our wonderful, historic High Street and then having refreshments in Penfold Hall.

“Following this they visited our Parish church and then were welcomed into Steyning Museum.”

Pilgrims from America inside Steyning Museum SUS-190626-124554001

The story of St Cuthman is from Saxon times when as a boy, Cuthman wheeled his mother in a cart using a rope around his shoulders to support the cart.

They journeyed over the Downs and when they arrived in what we now know as Steyning, the rope broke and Cuthman took this as a sign from God that he had to build a church and so our first wooden church was built in Steyning, probably on part of the site of our present Norman church

Stephanie added: “Apart from thanking us all profusely, their leaders said about Steyning Museum that ‘like all the great museums, it has the quality of causing visitors to want to become lost in it for hours. I certainly did so want to lose myself there—and so did my children!’”

“Our pilgrims were a delightful, friendly group and we all enjoyed their visit very much.

“Have you ever wondered about our town signs, or why the church is called St. Andrew and St. Cuthman? It is not every town that has its own legend.

“Come along to Steyning Museum and find out more about the story of St. Cuthman.”

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