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Early History of Holy Trinity Bosham

The Parish Church of Bosham has been dedicated to the Holy Trinity since the early part of the 14th Century. But it has an earlier history. It is to the Romans that we owe the site of the church for there can be little doubt that the spot was formerly occupied by a basilica. Roman pottery, bricks and coins have been found within the precincts of the church and the churchyard. The bases of the Chancel Arch are almost certainly the actual remains of Roman columns that probably supported the basilica fifteen centuries ago.

Saxon Chancel Arch

When the Roman Occupation ended at the beginning of the 6th Century

the basilica at Bosham probably fell into disuse and ruin until the Saxons came and utilised what remained of it in the erection of a Christian place of worship. The first actual record of Christianity in Sussex is given by the Venerable Bede (673-735) in his "Ecclesiastical History of the Anglian Nation". He tells the story of the conversion of the South Saxons and mentions the Irish monk, Dicul, who had a small monastery in the place which is called 'Boshanhamm', a spot surrounded by woods and sea.

After the 7th Century there is a 300 year gap in the history of the Church. But the architecture and

materials of the church itself tell some of the unwritten history. The style of the greater part of the building is late 9th Century Saxon with the tower and original nave built possibly as early as the late 800s. The Chancel Arch was cut through the original east wall and the first third of the Chancel was built 1040-1050. A further extension was made in the late 11th or early 12th Century and the final stage, together with the splendid east window, was built in the late 12th or early 13th Century. Evidence for these extensions is visible in the different styles of stonework in the three different sections.

The Crypt

King Canute 1016-1035 is thought to have had a home in Bosham in the early 11th Century and the long held tradition that his young daughter drowned in the mill stream was verified in 1865 when her coffin was unearthed in the nave.

 

King Harold prayed in the church before his fateful voyage to Normandy and this incident is depicted in the famous Bayeux Tapestry.

Extracts taken from

'The Story of Holy Trinity Church Bosham' 1912 by Rev K H MacDermott

revised 1995 by G W Marwood

Update :

Since the archaeological and geological survey which was
carried out on Bosham Church in 2003/4 it is not now thought that
Bosham Church stands on the site of a Roman basilica, although Roman
tiles and bricks have certainly been used in the construction of the
building.
The other is that the Chancel Arch is not Saxon but is thought to have
been built at the very beginning of the Norman period, at the same time
as the top section of the tower, probably by Saxon builders!