Christian worship will take place at a historical Roman home in Kent thought to be the oldest known site of Christian worship in the UK.
A special service at Lullingstone Roman Villa, which contained the country’s only known Roman-era paintings depicting Christian symbols and prayer, is being hosted by local church leaders.
Rev Gary Owen, rector of Eynsford, Farningham and Lullingstone, told Premier: “It’s a wonderful opportunity to be able to go back to the place where our Christian brothers and sisters were worshipping 1,600 years ago and hold an act of Christian worship and witness where our forebears have gone before us”.
Organised by Christians Together in Eynsford, Farningham and Lullingstone, the service will be attended by the Anglican Bishop of Tonbridge, Rt Rev Simon Burton-Jones, at 4pm on Sunday.
Paul Pattison from 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.”
Experts believe the villa was built in approximately 100 AD before being abandoned in the fifth century. This year marks 70 years since excavation work at the site began.
Rev Owen: “It looks like the family or community that lived there worshipped pagan deities and then became Christian.
“They started to worship Jesus and then they put in mosaics and symbols to represent that coming to faith…”