St Mary, Eastbourne, Sussex

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Feature Sets (3)


This is an unusually large parish church, with a W tower, an aisled nave with five-bay arcades, and an aisled choir with three-bay arcades. The W bay of the nave is clearly a later addition, possibly built with the tower,c.1300. The aisles have an alternating system of round and octagonal piers, with slightly pointed arches carved with complex mouldings (including chevron, fillets, hollows and keel mouldings), and capitals displaying a wide variety of motifs including upright and wind-blown stiff-leaf, and crockets. With the exception of the chevron, this repertoire is Early English in character rather than Romanesque. The presence of the chevron makes it 'Transitional'.


The Church was restored in 1844 and 1873. And possibly in 1851 by Carpenter.


Exterior Features



A cross shaft in the churchyard was removed from St Erth, Cornwall, in 1817. It appears to be of granite, with black inclusions, and has an integral head carved with a Maltese cross. In the centre of the cross in a hemi-spherical boss. The sides are carved with rectangular or square panels of geometric, dot and interlace designs, most of which are quite illegible due to wear.

h. 2.31 m
w. of sides at base 0.60 m x 0.32 m
w. under head 0.48 m x 0.26 m

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Chancel arch

The tall, and somewhat squat, chancel arch has one order on the E and two on the W side. The soffit of the inner order arch is carved with a group of three rolls, the larger central roll displaying a broad fillet. The E face of this order is carved with hyphenated chevron, with the undercut tips of the triangular units touching a keeled angle roll. The W face is carved with lateral chevron, again with the tips of the triangles touching a keeled angle roll. This order is carried by polygonal responds with foliage capitals. The outer order on the W is carved with cusping, or lobes, each unit again deeply undercut and touching a keeled angle roll. This is carried by en delit columns with foliage capitals.


N and S arcades

The choir arcades are three bays long, with alternating round and octagonal piers. The arches are slightly pointed, of one order, and carry foliate or crocket capitals. The soffit of each arch is carved with a group of three rolls, the larger central roll displaying a broad fillet. The three S arches are carved with lateral chevron, with the tips of the triangles touching a keeled angle roll. The three N arched are carved with hyphenated chevron, again touching a keeled angle roll.


The chancel arch and choir arcades are thought to be of Caen stone.


  • G. F. Chambers, 'Contributions towards a history of Eastbourne', Sussex Archaeological Collections 14, 1862, 119-37, esp. 128-29.
  • H. M. Whitley, 'Eastbourne Church: its dedication and guilds', Sussex Archaeological Collections, 42, 1899, 104-10.
  • I. Nairn and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Sussex. Harmondsworth 1965, 483-84.
Church Plan


Site Location
National Grid Reference
TV 597 995 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Sussex
now: East Sussex
medieval: Chichester
now: Chichester
medieval: not confirmed
now: St Mary
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Kathryn Morrison