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St Mary, Stoughton, Sussex

(50°53′50″N, 0°51′49″W)
SU 800 115
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Sussex
now West Sussex
  • Kathryn Morrison

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Stoughton has a very high, aisleless nave (11thc., rebuilt in 13thc?), N and S transepts, with a bell tower over the S arm, a wide, high chancel arch and a 13thc. chancel. There is a Norman window in the W wall of each transept.


Stoughton is mentioned in the Domesday Book, at which time it appears to have been a populous village, with 36 hides and a church. It was held directly by Earl Roger (before 1086, by Earl Godwin). This indicates that Stoughton was probably already an important and relatively wealthy place before the Conquest, and some of the church may date from that period.


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches
Tower/Transept arches




With its high and narrow proportions and thin walls (2' 5"), Stoughton is considered to be either pre-Conquest (notably by Taylor and Taylor), or a product of the late 11thc. 'Saxo-Norman overlap'. Its plan has been compared with that of Worth and its chancel arch with Bosham. Nevertheless, the chancel arch is a well-articulated piece of Early Norman architecture, and probably dates fromc.1100. Its base profiles constitute its most archaic feature. The capitals can be compared with those of Eartham (see entry on Eartham for comparison).

The capitals of the N and S transept arches are extremely similar, undoubtedly carved by the same masons at the same time, and yet the impost blocks have different profiles, that on the S being a classic 12thc. type while that on the N incorporates an overhang and can be considered Early English. The ensemble must, therefore, be considered Transitional, and dated to the last quarter of the 12thc. The capitals have been compared with some in Chichester Cathedral, dating after the 1187 fire.

According to the VCH (p.125), the font is a modern copy of a 12thc. font. If so, it is a good imitation of a late 12thc. font. It is not clear whether it copies a generic type, or a specific font which is now lost.

Victoria County History: Sussex. 4 (Chichester Rape) 1953, 124-25, with plan.
J. Morris and J. Mothersill (ed.), Domesday Book: Sussex. Chichester 1976, 11.37.
(Not mentioned in Walker 1908).
M. F. Drummond-Roberts, Some Sussex Fonts Photographed and Described. Brighton 1935, 86.
A. H. Peat and L. C. Halsted, Churches and Other Antiquities of West Sussex. Chichester 1912, 154-55.
I. Nairn and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Sussex. Harmondsworth 1965, 344-45.
R. Roberts, Twelfth-century Church Architecture in Sussex, 1988, 41-43
H.M. and J. Taylor, Anglo-Saxon Architecture. Vol. 2, Cambridge, 1965, 581-83.