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Changing Times | The Holy Trinity Church’s fascinating history

The HOLY Trinity Church in Bosham is well loved among local residents.


It is an iconic addition to the shoreline and, can easily be seen from Chichester Harbour by passers-by in sailing boats and those walking along the coast.


The church has a fascinating history, and has been in use for over 1,000 years.


Early records from the writings of the Venerable Bede (AD673-735), a Benedictine monk, show that there was ‘an Irish monk named Dicul who had a very small monastery in the place which is called Bosanham, a spot surrounded by woods and sea’.


It is not known, but it is likely this was some sort of timber framed building that was located on or near the current site of the church.


It is thought that the church itself was built by the Godwin family, the family house of the future King Harold, as some parts of the church date back to the Saxon period.


The Godwin family at that time owned enormous amounts of land and property across Sussex, including the Manor of Bosham. This can be seen in the Bayeaux tapestry where a scene depicts Harold and his men riding into Bosham before departing for Normandy in 1064.


The church had an in-depth survey of the tower in 1988 and the spire in 1998.


A full archaeological and geological survey was carried out in 2003-4, which has provided  information about the age and construction of the church, the results of which are all published in the Sussex Archaeological Society Collections.


These surveys proved that the tower is of Saxon build, and is the oldest part of the church, with the first phase of building dating to the end of the 10th and middle of the 11th  century.


These stages are typical of Saxon architecture, and some of these features can still be seen inside the church today.


On the east facing internal wall of the tower can be seen the tower arch, a triangular headed door above, and a round headed doorway above that.


These doorways would have been to a first and second floor gallery.


A number of additions were made during the Norman period, including a top storey to the tower, the enlargement of the chancel and the building of the chancel arch.


Dendrochronological (the dating of tree rings) samples have shown that the spire was made in one single phase, using wood that had been cut down in 1405 and 1406. The octagonal spire with an overhang at the eaves is called a broach spire, and is clad in wooden shingles.


Records show it had been re-shingled five times since 1794, and in 1903, 28,000 shingles were used.


New windows were added to the tower in the 11th century, and when the spire was built in the 15th century, the top storey became a new bell-chamber.


A clock made from Portland stone was added to the south face of the tower in 1947 as a memorial to Bosham men who had died during the world wars.​


The church has a number of wonderful features, such as a late 12th century font made of Purbeck marble, and four small stained glass roundels depicting angels, which are of 15th century Flemish origin in the Allhallows chapel.


In the chancel stands the parish chest which dates to around 1300, and its type belongs to a particular group of chests which are found in the south eastern counties.


The pulpit was, in fact, made from wood that was removed from the spire during restoration work, and was built in 1905.


An organ was installed in the church in the 19th century, which was enlarged in 1908 and used for nearly 100 years, until it was refurbished in 2006.


The church is a focal point of the community, and services are held regularly.


It is generally open every day for visitors, unless other events are scheduled.


Posted in Lifestyle.