On 26 February, we were pleased to host a heritage afternoon about the church and its people and indeed our whole village. We didn’t know who or how many would come, so were delighted when over 100 mostly local people turned out on a dismal late-winter afternoon, although the promise of tea and usual Becket’s abundance of cake no doubt helped!
Churchwarden Stephen Cox-Rusbridge (himself from a local family going back several generations) gave us an excellent overview of Pagham’s history: 1300 or so years within half an hour! This brevity wasn’t because not much has happened; far from it, given Pagham’s wealth in the Middle Ages and royal and archiepiscopal connections. In more recent times, this culminated in Queen Mary’s several visits to our church while King George V convalesced in the parish, which explains my title, that really it should be Pagham Regis. In fact, one of my predecessors called Bognor the ‘daughter’ and Aldwick the ‘granddaughter’ of Pagham (not my words, dear neighbours west of Pagham!)
We were also solemnly reminded of the sacrifices of several sons of Pagham in The Great War, courtesy of Sandy Sell. Some years ago, she and husband Michael sought to recover their stories and compiled a lovely photographic memorial book. If you want to know more about these and other aspects of our history, then much of it you will simply see in the church any day, but for other more valuable things you had better get in touch first. We hope this will have been the first of many such events, whether we host tours of the churchyard or Pagham weddings across the generations – watch this space!
I was left pondering change versus continuity: on the one hand, I no longer ride around the parish on horseback or join the local hunt, but on the other the church continues to be at the heart of village life, both in the community and with families and with today’s sons and daughters of Pagham (Regis?)
Mark Eminson, Vicar