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St Margaret, Rottingdean, Sussex

(50°48′24″N, 0°3′30″W)
TQ 369 026
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Sussex
now East Sussex
  • Kathryn Morrison

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Th nave of Rottingdean church dates from the early 12thc., with the exception of the W wall, which was rebuilt in the 14thc. The central tower and chancel date from the 13thc., and the S aisle was added in 1856. The foundations of a S transept were found in 1909. The loose fragments in the church probably came from the 12thc. church on the site.


Rottingdean was held from William of Warenne in 1086. No church is mentioned. In 1856 the S aisle was rebuilt on the site of a medieval aisle or chapel, which had been destroyed, probably by fire, at an unknown date (Hussey 1857). The S wall, which had incorporated a blocked arcade, was rebuilt at the same time.

According to the VCH, the font is a modern copy of the original, the bowl of which 'lies on the sill of a window nearby', and was dated to the 13thc. The modern font is square, and had a central shaft and four angle shafts. We did not see the disused font, but Drummond-Roberts published a photograph of it, displayed on a sill inside the church as described by VCH (Drummond-Roberts 1935, 72). She reported that it had been found 'some few years ago' in the Vicarage garden. It bears an uncanny resemblance to a disused font in Maresfield church (qv). Could it be the same piece?

The VCH also claimed that there were loose stones outside the W door of the church, and 12thc. stones reused in the N walling of the central tower. These were not noted.


Interior Features

Interior Decoration


Loose Sculpture


The cubic corbel was extracted from the NW angle of the church in 1855, and the unusual nature of the Norman carvings commented upon (Hussey 1856, 69). The provenance of the loose capitals and archivolt fragment is not known. These probably date from the second or third quarters of the 12thc., while the corbel appears to be slightly earlier.

Victoria County History: Sussex, 7 (Rape and Honour of Lewes). 1940, 236-37.
J. Morris and J. Mothersill (ed.), Domesday Book: Sussex. Chichester 1976, 12, 10.
M. F. Drummond-Roberts, Some Sussex Fonts Photographed and Described. Brighton 1935, 72.
M. A. Lower and R.H. Nibbs, The Churches of Sussex. Brighton 1872 [illustration].
I. Nairn and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Sussex. Harmondsworth 1965, 592-93.
Rev. A. Hussey, 'Rottingdean Church in 1855', Sussex Archaeological Collections 9 1857, 67-70.