A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1953.

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'Tangmere', A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester, (London, 1953), pp. 237-239. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol4/pp237-239 [accessed 22 June 2024].

. "Tangmere", in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester, (London, 1953) 237-239. British History Online, accessed June 22, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol4/pp237-239.

. "Tangmere", A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester, (London, 1953). 237-239. British History Online. Web. 22 June 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol4/pp237-239.

In this section


This is a small parish, containing 775 acres of light soil, suitable for corn and sugar beet. In recent years its name has become familiar as a station of the Royal Air Force. The village lies to the east of the church on a road running south from the Chichester-Arundel road. The 'mere' which presumably gave its name to the village and which was still of considerable size at the end of the 18th century has now dwindled to a small pond.


When Caedwalla, King of Wessex, in about 680 gave Pagham [q.v.] to Bishop Wilfrid he also gave to the bishop's brethren serving God at the church of St. Andrew on the east bank of the harbour called 'Vedringmutha' (Pagham Harbour) the land called Tangmere. (fn. 1) This estate Wilfrid subsequently gave, with Pagham, to Archbishop Theodore, and accordingly TANGMERE appears in the Domesday Survey among the manors of the Archbishop of Canterbury. In the charter which purports to be a copy of the original gift by Caedwalla the estate is called 10 hides (tributarios) and it was so assessed at the end of the Confessor's reign, but in 1086, like other manors of the archbishop, its assessment had been reduced and now stood as 6 hides. (fn. 2) The manor remained in the hands of the archbishops, except during the Interdict, when the estates of the see were seized by King John. At this time, in 1211, William de Milliers claimed, and apparently obtained, the manor of Tangmere as having been given as a marriage portion to his mother Constance, (fn. 3) to whose identity there seems to be no clue. The next year Stephen Harengot was suing William de Milliers for a knight's fee in Tangmere, (fn. 4) but neither the ground for nor the result of this suit appears. Neither name is found in the list of the archbishop's military tenants in Sussex in 1210; (fn. 5) but there is mention of Richard de Pageham as holding 1/10 fee. No place is named, but in 1218 Richard sued the archbishop on a writ of mort d'auncestor for 9 hides of land in Tangmere; (fn. 6) in 1221 he gave up his claim to the 9 hides, but received 1 hide, defined as 60 statute acres, to hold of the archbishop as 1/9 knight's fee. (fn. 7) The details of the constituents of this hide show that Richard's house adjoined land held by Siward de Ulham, and it is possible that it corresponded to the messuage and 100 acres of land called Oulham in Tangmere, held by knight service, for which Thomas atte More, donsel of the Earl of Arundel, did homage to the archbishop in 1368. (fn. 8) Thomas was the son of Ralph and Sarra atte More, who in 1346 had settled 'the manor' of Oulham, with some 200 acres in Tangmere and adjacent parishes, on themselves with remainder to Thomas and Agnes his wife and their heirs. (fn. 9) Ralph was the chief taxpayer in this vill in 1332, (fn. 10) and his wife was probably the Lady Sarra de Farndon who held the same position in 1327. (fn. 11) In 1416 William son of Thomas atte More and Thomas Bakere, vicar of Cocking, conveyed to William Robroke and others lands called Owlhamme and Sperlande, late of John Tauke of Chalvescrofte (in Pagham). (fn. 12) In 1419 William Robroke accused Richard Hille of Otham and Philippa his wife of forging deeds to disturb his possession of Oulham and Sperland in Tangmere. (fn. 13) The accusation presumably failed, as in 1420 they conveyed a messuage and 200 acres in this parish to William Ryman and Elizabeth his wife. (fn. 14) In 1618 the list of freeholders in Tangmere includes Sir Garret Kempe for Sperlandes 'which he holdeth by knyght service', and Mr. Earnley for the Woolhams. (fn. 15) No more is known of this estate, except that in 1627 it was transferred, as 'Woolhams', by William Cawley to John Peachey, who died seised thereof in 1636. (fn. 16)

The archbishop's manor was valued at £14 7s. 3d. in 1291, (fn. 17) and in 1535 it was farmed for £25, an additional £1 being received from the sale of wood and £1 2s. 6d. from the issues of the manorial court. (fn. 18) In 1542 Tangmere was among the manors surrendered to Henry VIII by Archbishop Cranmer. (fn. 19) It was granted in 1556 to the Cardinal Archbishop Reynold Pole, (fn. 20) but on his death reverted to the crown and early in 1560 was granted to Richard Baker and Sir Richard Sackville. (fn. 21) In 1579 Sir Richard Baker and Thomas Sackville, Lord Buckhurst, conveyed the manor to John Morley and Thomas Crompton, (fn. 22) and since that time Tangmere has descended with Halnaker [q.v.], the present lord of the manor being the Duke of Richmond.


The church of ST. ANDREW (fn. 23) stands to the south-west of the village; it consists of chancel, nave with bell-cote, and south porch with fuel store. It is built of flint rubble, plastered, a few reused Roman bricks being visible, especially as lintels over putlog holes; the dressings are of freestone and the roofs of tile, save that the sides and spire of the bell-cote are shingled.

The 11th-century church, which is mentioned in Domesday Book, consisted of the present nave and a chancel; the latter was enlarged to its present dimensions in the 13th century; the bell-cote is of unknown, but ancient, date, the porch and annexe are modern.

In the east wall of the chancel are two lancet windows with external rebates and pointed rear-arches, the internal jambs are moulded. There are two lancets in both the north and the south walls, having segmental rear-arches; the inner jambs of the eastern window on each side have the same moulding as those in the east wall, those of the western are plain. In the south wall is a trefoil-headed piscina, like the windows of the 13th century. The roof has two tie-beams, and is ceiled with modern boarding in mansard form.

The chancel arch (13th-century) is of two chamfered orders, the outer springing from square responds, the inner carried by a corbel whose moulded abacus is continued on the respond as an impost; the lower part of the responds was formerly carried forward to make a dwarf wall dividing the chancel from the nave.

Plan of Tangmere Church

In the east wall of the nave, north of the chancel arch, is a niche with semicircular cinquefoiled head, the three uppermost foils being each made a trefoil by sub-cusping; this is probably 15th-century.

The nave is roofed in five bays. In the easternmost there is, on each side, a widely splayed lancet of the 13th century; west of this, also on each side, is a small 12th-century window with round head and concentric splay, having no original provision for glazing. The single stone of the head of the window on the south side is carved, outside, with three figures in low relief; they are now much weathered, but perhaps represent the beheading of the Baptist. In the third bay of the south side is a doorway with two orders of mouldings on jambs and pointed arch, this is of the 15th or late 14th century. In the fourth bay, on each side, is a 12th-century window like those farther east. The fifth bay is occupied by the bell-cote, the framing of which rests on the ground; two pairs of puncheons, each pair braced together by transoms and windbraces, rise to plates at eaves level; here they carry braced tie-beams which, with the next roof tie-beam, carry lengthwise timbers which in turn carry the vertical, braced timbers of the bell-cote itself; a slender spire surmounts the whole. In the west wall is an opening, formerly the west doorway (shown in a drawing of 1795 as having a round head, and as blocked), now leading to a diminutive annexe to the vestry, which is curtained off from the nave. Over the former doorway is a single 13th-century lancet window, and over this a small modern window. The nave roof is ancient, having braced collars between the rafters, staggered purlins, and unmoulded tie-beams.

The porch (modern) has its entrance facing east; on the floor are some 13th-century taper-sided tombstones, much worn, on one of which the outline of a cross is faintly traceable.

The font is of the 12th century, of the shape of a modern flower pot; the cover is of oak, with a central standard and S-shaped volutes, of the 17th century. The slab of the communion table is the ancient altar slab reused. In the chancel is a buffet or cupboard of oak, of late-17th-century date, and perhaps foreign origin. South of the porch is an ancient yew tree, now hollow.

There are three bells; (fn. 24) one by John Cole (c. 1575), and two with stamps attributed to 'William Founder', of the 15th century. (fn. 25)

The communion plate (fn. 26) includes a silver cup with conical bowl and arabesque decoration; it is undated but Elizabethan. It has a paten cover. There is another paten, of 1692, given to the church in the following year.

The registers begin in 1539.


There was a church at Tangmere in 1086. (fn. 27) The church and tithes were given to Lewes Priory before 1121, in which year the church was confirmed to the priory by Ralph, Archbishop of Canterbury, (fn. 28) as were the tithes by Bishop Ralph of Chichester. (fn. 29) In the charter of confirmation granted to Lewes by King Stephen the gift is credited to William de Pageham, (fn. 30) but John de Pageham (probably son of William) confirmed to the monks of Lewes the church of Tangmere, 'which they had long previously held and possessed of the gift of my mother'. (fn. 31) The priory still held the church when Bishop Seffrid (1180–1204) confirmed their possession of it, (fn. 32) but this is the last reference to their tenure and it must shortly after this have reverted to the see of Canterbury, to which it belonged in 1232. (fn. 33) Since then the advowson has descended continuously with the manor, the Duke of Richmond being the present patron.

In 1291 the rectory was valued at £13 6s. 8d., (fn. 34) and in 1341 the rector was said to have a messuage and 18 acres of glebe, with rents and services of tenants worth 8s. (fn. 35) In 1535 the rectory was rated at £13 4s. 8d. (fn. 36)


Arthur Raymond Stilwell Freeland by his will dated 9 January 1914 bequeathed to the vicar and churchwardens of Tangmere £500, to apply the income towards the maintenance of the churchyard. The annual income amounts to £14 11s. 10d.

Lady Derby. This parish is entitled to participate in the Charity of Mary, Countess Dowager of Derby, to the extent of the appointment of two poor widows or aged maidens of the Church of England to the Almshouses in the parish of Boxgrove belonging to the Charity.


  • 1. Suss. Arch. Coll. lxxxvi, 51–7.
  • 2. V.C.H. Suss., i, 389.
  • 3. Pipe R. 13 John, m. 16.
  • 4. Curia Regis R. vi, 377.
  • 5. Red Bk. of Exch. 473.
  • 6. Pipe R. 2 Hen. III, m. 3; Rot. Litt. Claus. i, 404.
  • 7. Suss. Rec. Soc. ii, 180. Richard still held land here in 1232; Cal. Pat. 1225–32, p. 517.
  • 8. Dallaway, Rape of Chichester, 74, citing Reg. Abp. Langham.
  • 9. Suss. Rec. Soc. xxiii, 2016.
  • 10. Ibid. x, 246.
  • 11. Ibid. 121.
  • 12. Cal. Close Hen. V, i, 348, 361. Thomas atte More of Chalvecrofte was buried in Bersted church in 1375: Abp. Reg. Sudbury, fol. 78 v.
  • 13. Cal. Pat. 1416–22, p. 157.
  • 14. Suss. Rec. Soc. xxiii, 2885.
  • 15. Ct. R. (at Chichester).
  • 16. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), clxxviii, 65.
  • 17. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 139.
  • 18. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 139.
  • 19. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvii, 443 (15).
  • 20. Cal. Pat. 1555–7, p. 71.
  • 21. Ibid. 1558–60, p. 306.
  • 22. Suss. Rec. Soc. xx, 428.
  • 23. Add. MS. 39366, fol. 132.
  • 24. Suss. Arch. Coll. xvi, 225.
  • 25. Ibid. lvii, 20.
  • 26. Ibid. liii, 251, and pl. 21.
  • 27. V.C.H. Suss. i, 389.
  • 28. Round, Anct. Charters (Pipe R. Soc. x), 11.
  • 29. Suss. N. & Q. i, 50.
  • 30. Cal. Docs. France, 510.
  • 31. Suss. Rec. Soc. xl, 78. The date there given for John's charter (c. 1120) is probably too early.
  • 32. Suss. N. & Q. ii, 253.
  • 33. Cal. Pat. 1232–47, p. 21.
  • 34. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 138.
  • 35. Inq. Non. (Rec. Com.), 359.
  • 36. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 311.