The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Sussex is to move out of his stately residence in an attempt to ease the Church's financial difficulties.

The Right Reverend Kieran Conry, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, is expected to put the grand, flint-fronted St Joseph's Hall in Storrington on the market for between £1.5 million and £2.5 million.

He and two nuns occupy a corner of the ten-bedroom, five-bathroom house, while an entire wing of the building is closed off.

Built in 1910, the house is set in 17 acres of walled gardens, lawn and woods.

Any sale would include the unoccupied five-bedroom cottage in the grounds, while a garden plot may be sold separately if planning permission for building can be obtained, bringing the overall sale to about £3 million.

No decision has been taken on a new home for the bishop and the sisters who run his residence but among the options being considered are a move to the modest, four-bedroom annexe of Arundel Cathedral - currently home to the Dean and another priest. They may be asked to move to a property in Arundel's Catholic cemetery.

Bishop Conry, 53, who has lived in St Joseph's since his appointment in 2001, decided the house was under-used and too expensive to run.

He said: "An estimate for repairing a cracked chimney and a couple of leaks was £50,000. And these costs are going to get worse.

"It is something my predecessors both considered but we have taken the decision in principle now and there is no going back.

"My biggest regret will be leaving the village and the parish - I feel very much one of the parishioners."

Buyers are prepared to pay a premium for homes in the bustling village, which has access to the Downs and countryside while enjoying good rail links to the capital.

Neil Moore, a director of Storrington-based Guy Leonard & Co, said: "Houses of this sort of size and ilk don't often go as one single dwelling. They are often snapped up by developers to be turned into apartments."

St Joseph's was purchased by the Church when the Arundel and Brighton diocese was established in 1965.

Four bishops have lived there while taking responsibility for the diocese's 116 parishes dotted throughout East and West Sussex and most of neighbouring Surrey.

For 22 years it was home to the then bishop, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, now Archbishop of Westminster and head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.

The diocese is, like other dioceses, struggling to make ends meet and suffering from a shortage of priests.

But the Catholic Church is not the only denomination tightening its purse strings in the wake of dwindling congregations and rising costs.

A report last year recommended 13 Anglican places of worship within Brighton and Hove, including the historic St Peter's Church, should be closed or redeveloped.

Most are in prime city centre or residential sites and would fetch millions on the property market.