St Thomas a Becket

A Norman church built on the site replacing a Saxon church and retaining some of the Saxon features.

About this church

Records show Pagham is the subject of a transaction dated c680, in which Caedwalla King of Wessex, gave the area to St Wilfred.

There is evidence of a Saxon church on this site, with foundation stones being discovered in 1976. These stones have been used to create an oak topped altar with stands in the south transept. A small piece of a Saxon cross and fragments of a Saxon burial urn have also been discovered, and are on display in the church.

A Norman church was built on the site replacing the Saxon church, and then rebuilt and enlarged using some of the original Norman church, during the 13th century. Some evidence of the early church can be seen in the chancel, and the font bowl, decorated with Norman arches, is from the earlier period. Much of the church has been constructed in the Early English style. The church does not contain elaborate tombs, although there are some small memorial stones in the walls.

A great deal of work was carried out on the church during the Victorian period, as the church had become in a very poor condition, with the west front being completely renewed and a large rose window installed. During this period the choir vestry with gallery over was installed at the west end of the church. The rose window was reglazed in1936 in memory of the convalescence of King George V at Craigweil House in 1929, during which time Queen Mary became a regular worshiper at this church.

The church is grade I listed. It is constructed in flint work with stone quoins and a plain tiled roof. The shingle tower houses six bells, the oldest dating back to 1666. Many of the windows contain stained glass. The east window combines elements of 16th century Flemish glass from Rouen together with armorial work of an earlier 19th century date. The six preRaphaelite windows in the north and south transepts were restored in 1965, with some restored carried out to the east window at the same time.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Wildlife haven
  • Social heritage stories
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Train station within 250m
  • Level access throughout
  • Ramp or level access available on request
  • Car park at church
  • Non-accessible toilets in church
  • Café within 500m
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

Other nearby churches

St Mary

Imagine a time when this coastal parish and nearby Pagham Harbour (now a wetland nature reserve) was busy with maritime trade and it is easy to see why this should have been the largest church in the area.

St Peter

Selsey was an island when the Christian missionary St Wilfrid landed there in the 6th century and the monastery he founded was an important Christian centre.

St Mary Magdalene

The present church at South Bersted dates back to 1405, when it was consecrated and dedicated by the Bishop Reade of Chichester before a large congregation.

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