First act of Christian worship held at historic Kent Roman villa since 5th

First published on: 1st March 2019

The first Christian act of worship since the 5th century AD has taken place at historic Lullingstone Roman Villa

On Sunday 3 March at 4pm, around 100 people from Christian churches across Eynsford, Farningham and Lullingstone joined a service in the villa itself, to celebrate God's activity in the villages for over 1,600 years.  

The Villa is believed to be the oldest known site of Christian worship in the UK, containing the only known paintings in Roman Britain that contain clear Christian symbols and depictions of Christian prayer.

This year also marks 70 years since excavations began on the Roman villa, which was found to have been built around AD 100. Currently in the care of English Heritage, this will be the first time that a Christian act of worship has been held in the villa since its abandonment in the 5th century AD.(Photo below: credit English Heritage)

The service was organised by the group, Christians Together in Eynsford, Farningham and Lullingstone and contained prayers, readings and music from across the centuries.

Bishop Simon Burton-Jones, the Bishop of Tonbridge, preached and spoke of the promise found in Isaiah 43: 1 "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine." as 'one which reverberates through the ages, and will remain for all eternity'.

Rev Gary Owen, Rector of Eynsford with Farningham and Lullingstone said:

 “It was a very special service. and an amazing opportunity for us to give thanks for God’s continuous faithfulness the over the centuries.

“It is very exciting to think that we were worshipping in the same place that our Roman Christian brothers and sisters did, all those years ago.

"We are very grateful to English Heritage for helping make the event such a success and pray for more collaborations with them at this unique site in the future.”

Paul Pattison Senior Properties Historian at English Heritage said:

“The evidence of a Christian house-church in Lullingstone villa – and actual place of worship –is a unique discovery in Roman Britain and the wall-paintings depicting worshippers are of international importance.

This is among the earliest and certainly the most compelling evidence for Christianity in Britain.” 



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