St Thomas a Becket, Pagham, Sussex

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Feature Sets (2)


The church comprises a 13thc. nave with N and S aisles, N and S transepts and a chancel. The NW tower stands over the W bay of the N aisle. The W front, apparently inspired by church facades in Western France, seems to date from the 1837 restoration by John Elliott.


Pagham was famously given to Wilfrid by King Cædwalla of the south Saxons in the 7thc. Pagham and its church are mentioned in the Domesday Book, at which time the village was held by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Throughout the 12thc. the Archbishops occasionally visited their palace at Pagham.




(Location: N Transept; in early 20thc. was at W end S aisle.) The font has a square Sussex marble bowl with a round, lead-lined basin. The slightly tapering sides are carved as follows:

E side: a six-arch arcade

N side: in the centre is a stylised tree, with a quartered 'fleur-de-lys' or 'oak leaf' type foliage panel to either side.

W side: the central motif is damaged by a lead plug. To either side is a quartered foliage motif. The leaf forms are cusped.

S side: a seven-arch arcade. One arch, smaller than the others, has been squeezed in on the extreme right.

The underside of the bowl has mouldings for five columns: a fat central shaft and four slender angle shafts. The present shafts, however, and the plinth are modern (freestone).

h. of bowl 0.28 m
interior diam. of basin 0.56 m
max. length of sides 0.70 m


The form of the font and the arcading of the S and E sides point to a 12thc. date. The N and W sides may have been recarvedc.1300. The form of the W facade, while reminiscent of W French facades, appears 19thc. and this is confirmed by the capital forms which use Romanesque motifs in a very un-Romanesque way. The stone is friable and extremely worn despite its relative youth.


  • Victoria County History: Sussex. IV (Chichester Rape) 1953, 231-33, with plan.
  • D. Freke, 'Excavations in the parish church of St Thomas the Martyr, Pagham', Sussex Archaeological Collections 118, 1980, 245-56 (discovery of footings of pre-Conquest church and fragment of 10th century ring-headed cross).
  • J. Morris and J. Mothersill (ed.), Domesday Book: Sussex. Chichester 1976, 2.5.
  • A. H. Peat and L. C. Halsted, Churches and Other Antiquities of West Sussex. Chichester 1912, 116-19.
  • I. Nairn and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Sussex. Harmondsworth 1965, 289.
Church Plan


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SZ 883 975 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Sussex
now: West Sussex
medieval: Chichester
now: Chichester
now: St Thomas a Becket
medieval: not confirmed
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Kathryn Morrison