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Heritage put on show at parish church

HISTORY is going on display at Pagham’s church this weekend to give the building a future.


An open afternoon is taking place from 3pm to 6pm on Sunday at St Thomas a’Becket Church to explore its heritage and the past of the surrounding area.


Entry to the event will be by donation to the church’s £250,000 Raise The Roof appeal to fund major repair works to the Grade I listed structure.


Several dozen exhibits and items about the history of the church and its community will be on show.


The church’s vicar, the Rev Mark Eminson, said: “Do come along to learn more about things such as Pagham in the First World War or personal stories from those whose family connections here go back several generations, or again to see our 17th century Bible or the picture of Queen Mary after worship – while King George V was convalescing in Pagham, not Bognor.


“We hope this will be the first in a series of events over the coming years as, with a new roof, we can responsibly and safely house both the human and material treasure of this church and parish.”


St Thomas a’Becket Church, in Church Lane, dates from  some 800 years ago and is one of the oldest in the Bognor Regis area. It stands on a site used for worship since Saxon times.


A Norman font and a bell cast in 1066 are testament to its lengthy past.


But the church’s age means Mr Eminson and his worshippers face probably its biggest project to replace tiles which have begun to fall off the roof.


The gables at each end of the nave have disintegrated and water has seeped in and penetrated the walls below.


Raise The Roof has raised some £35,000 from residents and worshippers since Mr Eminson launched it last September. A bid for Heritage Lottery Fund backing of about £200,000 has also been made.


“Heritage is an interesting concept,” he said. “Although each generation understandably can think it is the brightest and the best, there is usually also a sense of building on the good foundations of our forebears.


“In a more domestic sense, many of us have compiled our family histories and genealogies and programmes and other material related to our sense of identity and connections to the past are very popular.”

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