Copy of Sistine Chapel in unassuming rural British church draws crowds

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The unassuming UK church where copy of Sistine Chapel exists

This unassuming church has incredibly attracted nearly 30,000 visitors in the last two years - because inside is the world's only hand-painted replica of the prestigious Sistine Chapel.

Though the exterior of the English Martyrs Church doesn't get any double takes and looks like any ordinary 1960s building, the interior has stunned visitors who have travelled from around the globe.

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Inside on the church's ceiling is the world's only hand-painted replica of the famous artwork in the Sistine Chapel, Vatican City, Rome, Italy.

The church in Worthing, West Sussex, is two thirds the size of the Sistine Chapel and is so impressive that in the last year 12,000 people have visited it, and in the year before 15,000.

It has up to 60 visitors on a daily basis who spend up to three hours inside in awe of the artwork which is identical to Michelangelo's, created in the 16th century.

Credits: Solent News

Solent News

Credits: Solent News

Solent News

Visitors from Australia, Canada, and the USA have all admired the incredible ceiling, which was created by a sign-writer who had no art lessons in his life, inside the Catholic church in Worthing.

Gary Bevans, now deacon at the church, spent a painstaking five-and-a-half years painting the ceiling after becoming inspired by a pilgrimage to Rome.

Since the artwork was finished, the church has received a 'certificate of excellence' on travel site TripAdvisor, where it is listed as the second best tourist attraction in Worthing.

Parish secretary Anne Niven says she is 'delighted' to have welcomed 12,000 in the last year.

Credits: Solent News

Solent News

Mrs Nivens said: "We get coaches turn up at the church with tourists on. Visitors come and they are met with a very ordinary and plain looking church.

"But as soon as they walk through the door they are stunned, they just say 'oh my heavens' and are so gobsmacked by it all.

"The building outside is just so ordinary and doesn't look impressive, but that's what makes the inside so brilliant.

"In the last year we had 12,000 and the year before 15,000, so we're very pleased. They come from all over the world - from Australia, Canada and America.

Credits: Solent News

Solent News

"We get coaches that come with visitors on, sometimes with 60 people on. Some people stay for three hours, they can come and stay for as long as they like."

She added: "In the actual Sistine Chapel you are ushered around a fair bit so don't get to spend too much time there, we just let people enjoy it in their time and let them appreciate it for as long as they like."

The attraction is free to view and funds raised from visitors' donations enable the church to help its parishioners.

Mrs Nivens added: "It enables us to run other programmes, like groups for toddlers and lonely people, and we don't have to charge them."

What visitors to the UK want to know, according to Google

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