AN ACT of Christian worship was held at a Roman villa in Kent for the first time since the fifth century.
Lullingstone Roman Villa, in Rochester diocese, is believed to be the oldest known site of Christian worship in the UK. It houses the only surviving paintings that depict Christianity in the remains of Roman Britain.
Last Sunday, the Bishop of Tonbridge, the Rt Revd Simon Burton-Jones, preached at a service of celebration in the villa. It was organised by Christians Together in Eynsford, Farningham, and Lullingstone.
DIOCESE OF ROCHESTERThe Revd Gary Owen, Rector of Eynsford with Farningham and Lullingstone, gives the blessing
The Rector of Eynsford with Farningham and Lullingstone, the Revd Gary Owen, said: “It is very exciting to think that we will be taking part in worship in the same place that our Roman Christian brothers and sisters did all those years ago.”
The villa is owned by English Heritage, and was built in about 100. A senior properties historian for English Heritage, Paul Pattison, said: “The evidence of a Christian house-church in Lullingstone villa — and an 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.”