St Peter, Peasmarsh, Sussex

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Feature Sets (3)


Peasmarsh church is essentially Norman, but was greatly enlarged in the 13thc. It has a W tower, an aisled nave with three-bay arcades, and a large square-ended Early English chancel. The main Norman feature is the chancel arch.


Neither the manor nor the church is mentioned in 1086. The church is mentioned in the confirmatory charter of Count Henry of Eu, recording what his grandfather Count Robert of Eu (d.c.1090) gave soon after the Conquest to a prebend of the collegiate church of St. Mary-in-Castro, Hastings. The stag relief was uncovered during the restoration project of 1926.


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration


Carved panel

NE buttress of chancel, face. The masonry course just below the upper off-set of this diagonal buttress incorporates a rectangular relief carved with a flying bird. It appears to be of sandstone.

Carved panel

SE buttress of chancel, W side, course below ground level contains a rectangular relief panel carved with a horned animal, probably a stag, standing in profile and facing R.

h. 0.315 m
w. 0.58 m

Carved panel

S side chancel, rectangular relief panel, carved with a quadruped (lion?) standing in profile, facing L. The beast has an open mouth and its tail is entwined between its legs.

h. 0.34 m
w. 0.52 m

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Chancel arch

The horseshoe-shaped chancel arch comprises one order. On the W face of each jamb is a rectangular relief panel. That on the S jamb is carved with a quadruped (lion or dog?) in profile, pacing to the L and turning its head to bite its tail. There are traces of engraved diapering on its body. That on the N jamb is carved with a quadruped (lion or dog?) in profile, pacing to the R and turning its head. Part of the tail, curling over the body, survives and the beast may originally have been biting it. The inner faces of the impost blocks, facing N and S, are carved with a row of chip-carved zigzag. The chamfered surface beneath this is carved with rolls: five on the S and four on the N. The arch is plain.

h. N jamb panel 0.32 m
h. S jamb panel 0.29 m
w. 0.46 m
w. 0.47 m


The two reliefs reset on the S side of the chancel are of dark brownish-red iron-sandstone, while the bird relief in the NE buttress is in a lighter stone, probably also sandstone. The NE buttress is probably 14thc. in date.

The chancel arch appears to date from the late 11thc., a date suggested by its simple form and moulded imposts. The animal reliefs on the jambs may, like those on the exterior of the church, be reset. They are similar to a relief from Canterbury (CL 1051 64A), datedc.1080-90 by Deborah Kahn. The Peasmarsh reliefs have less internal modelling, but a generic similarity cannot be denied. The stag relief on the external buttress can be compared with a panel from Sainte-Paix, Caen (Mus. de la Soc. des Antiquaries de Normandie), also depicting a stag, and dated c. 1060-80 by Maylis Baylé. The Sainte-Paix stage is much more schematised, with less modulated contours, but again a generic resemblance is obvious.


  • Victoria County History: Sussex. IX (Rape and Honour of Hastings). 1937, 158-59.

  • D. Kahn, `Recently discovered eleventh-century reliefs from Canterbury', Gesta, 28, 1, 1989, 53-60.

  • G. M. Livett, 'Three Sussex Churches. Battle, Peasmarsh, Icklesham a study of their architectural history', Sussex Archaeological Collections, 47, 35-46.

  • M. BaylĂ©, `Les chapiteaux de la chapelle Sainte-Paix Caen', Bulletin Monumental, 132, 1974, 261-72.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
TQ 887 218 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Sussex
now: East Sussex
medieval: Chichester
now: Chichester
now: St Peter and St Paul
medieval: not confirmed
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Kathryn Morrison