Visiting the Parish Church, Westham, East Sussex: dating from 1086, the first Norman church in England?

Flag of England
Flag of England | Source
Westham church
Westham church | Source
Map location of Wealden District, East Sussex
Map location of Wealden District, East Sussex | Source

Nearly a millennium has hurtled by

This flintstone church building in Westham, East Sussex, situated adjacent to Pevensey Castle, is reputed to be the first Norman church in England.

Some history and features

Said to date in part from 1086, it thus has a remarkable history.

A proportion of the building dates from later centuries; indeed, the structure underwent a thorough program of restoration in the 19th century. But it is accurately reckoned that at least part of the nave, and of the transept also, are from the 11 century. Among the most conspicuous parts of the building, the tower, dates from the 14th century.

Given the relatively large dimensions of the church, it is thought that this probably reflects patronage from past, prominent residents at the neighbouring Pevensey Castle.

Achitects Edward G. Paley (1823-95) and Hubert Austin (1841-1915) were the architects responsible for the restoration work accomplished from 1876 to 1877. These experts worked on many similar projects with old churches.

However, observant readers will have noticed that the title of this article bears a question mark. This is because Westham Parish Church is not the only church building about which the claim to be England's first Norman church is made. Bramber church, West Sussex also makes the same claim.

But, still, when one considers that nearly a millennium has hurtled past since the church building, was built, at least in part, this is virtually half the time which has elapsed since the life on earth of the Founder of the church.

Note on spelling: This village in England is usually written as one word: Westham. A suburb of London, particularly known for its football team, is West Ham, written as two words.

St Mary's Parish church is located in the High Street, at Westham, East Sussex, in the Wealden DIstrict of that county.

July 11, 2012

Also worth seeing

In the High Street, Westham , there are some picturesque houses.

Pevensey , to the Castle of which Westham Parish Church lies adjacent, has its own parish church, plus the Old Mint House and the Old Courthouse.

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How to get there: United Airlines flies to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. (Distance from London Heathrow to Westham : approx. 146 kilometres.) For access by road, take M25/M23/A23/A27. There are rail links to Pevensey and Westham railroad station from London Victoria station. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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