Wilmington is a Downland village of Saxon origin, the present church was first built around 1200 as a chapel to the adjacent Priory and a feature of the churchyard is the ancient Yew tree, estimated to be 1600 years old, the trunk having a girth of 23ft.
The church of the Good Shepherd, Lullington stands on the side of the South Downs above the Cuckmere Valley, almost hidden amongst a clump of trees. Its white weather boarded belfry peeps above the foliage, and there are magnificent views.
It is the smallest church in Sussex, and one of the smallest churches in the country, being 16 feet square, and seating only about 20. There is no electricity and evening services are conducted by candlelight. The building is the remains of the chancel of a larger church, which is believed to have been razed by fire in Cromwellian times.
The church dates from the 13th century, and is of Early English style, with the list of vicars extending back to 1356. The original dedication is not known for sure, but may be to St Zita (a saint canonised not because of miraculous powers, but because of simple devotion and hard work). More latterly, and after a decision by the local community, the church was rededicated in 2000 to the Good Shepherd (one of the earliest Christian titles for Jesus), in keeping with agricultural practices of the area.
The location of this unique church, its history, and the atmosphere created by its beautiful location make it popular with visitors throughout the year.
More recently, the church was the inspiration for the popular song 'The Smallest Church in Sussex' by the nationally acclaimed band British Sea Power. The organ music featured on that song was made using the harmonium inside the church.