Exceat church

Nothing of the structure of this lost church remains and no other evidence of the settlement that was mentioned in Domesday Book (10,24) is to be seen.  The  church stood high up in the Downs with broad views over the mouth of the river Cuckmere and the site is marked by a stone placed here after the excavations by Budgen in 1913 (1 p168).  The village was depopulated by the mid-C15, possibly as a consequence of French Raids (ibid p158) or, conceivably, the wider depopulation that had followed the Black Death in the previous century.  In 1460 there were only two inhabited houses in the parish (ibid), the occupants of which were declared parishioners of Westdean.  The benefice continued for a while as a sinecure, but there is good evidence that the church had all but disappeared (ibid p161).

When Budgen carried out his excavations he was advised among others by P M Johnston.  The church was found to be aisleless and apsidal with a chancel arch and was dated to 1050-80 (ibid p164).  The walls of the nave were fairly thick, which would suggest a date towards the end of that period, though the most recent assessment (2 p101) has dated the church to the pre-Conquest period, earlier even than Budgen’s and Johnston’s dating.  However, a date towards the end of their suggested period remains preferable, not least on the evidence of the wall containing the chancel arch.  This was 5ft thick, hardly a pre-Conquest characteristic, and could indicate a belfry or turret above, rather like that of a later date at West Chiltington, West Sussex.  Too little remained to determine the extent of later alterations, But the remains of a north doorway were dated to the C13 and there was a sizeable south porch which was not bonded in to the nave and was also subsequently dated to the C13 (2 ibid).

Since 1528 the parish has been united formally with Westdean (VCH 2 p158).


1. W Budgen: Excete and its Parish Church, SAC 58 (1916) pp138-70
2. H Clarke and P E Leach: The Medieval Churches of the Cuckmere Valley, SAC 123 (1985) pp95-108


Measured plans in 1 p163 and, based on this, in 2 p98

My thanks to Nick Wiseman for the photograph