Beckett's Barn and adjoining earthworks


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

West Sussex
Arun (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SZ 88456 97370


The remains of an archiepiscopal palace, 140m south-east of St Thomas a Becket’s Church, Pagham.

Reasons for Designation

Bishops' palaces were high status domestic residences providing luxury accommodation for the bishops and lodgings for their large retinues; although some were little more than country houses, others were the setting for great works of architecture and displays of decoration. Bishops' palaces were usually set within an enclosure, sometimes moated, containing a range of buildings, often of stone, including a hall or halls, chapels, lodgings and a gatehouse, often arranged around a courtyard or courtyards. The earliest recorded examples date to the seventh century. Many were occupied throughout the medieval period and some continued in use into the post-medieval period; a few remain occupied today. Only some 150 bishops' palaces have been identified and documentary sources confirm that they were widely dispersed throughout England. All positively identified examples are considered to be nationally important.

The remains of the archiepiscopal palace, 140m south-east of St Thomas a Becket’s Church, survive relatively well with some significant medieval masonry. The site has been shown by partial excavation to include below-ground archaeological and environmental remains relating to a period of intermittent occupation of nearly 2000 years. It will contain potential for further archaeological information relating to the former use and history of the site. As the site of a palace belonging to the see of Canterbury it is also of major historical interest.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 31st October 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes an archiepiscopal palace surviving as upstanding stone remains and below-ground archaeological remains. It is situated on the coastal plain north-east of Pagham Harbour. The upstanding stone remains include those of the medieval great hall of Pagham Rectory, incorporated into a later barn known as Becket’s Barn. It is thought to date from the 13th century. The barn is constructed of stone rubble with a gable at the west end and a tiled roof. The medieval remains include parts of the walls of the great hall in the lower courses of the north-west and south sides of the barn. A two light window and a blocked doorway survive in the north wall. There is also a large blocked fireplace and a segmental-headed doorway probably once leading to a solar, traces of which survive outside the south wall. The earthworks of fishponds and/or a possible moated enclosure survive in traces to the south and east of the barn. They were largely levelled in the 20th century but include a bank to the east and a bank and slight ditch to the south. The area in and around the palace was partially excavated in 1950 and 1974, which uncovered three main phases of occupation on the site. The earliest, 2nd Century AD Roman phase, includes in-filled and buried ditches containing Samian pottery and Romano-British coarse wares. The next phase is Saxon, dating to about the 8th century AD and represented by a cobbled path overlain by a midden deposit cut by three buried and in-filled ditches. The final phase is an archiepiscopal palace dating from the 13th century. Archaeological evidence of this phase includes floors, foundation trenches, pits and pottery. The gaps in activity on the site were possibly due to marine incursions. Pagham Rectory is first recorded in documentary sources in 1299. It belonged to the see of Canterbury and detailed records of repairs survive for the period 1380-1444. A survey of 1650 refers to a parsonage house, barns, storehouse and a large yard on the site.

The upstanding remains are Grade II listed.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
WS 219
Legacy System:


West Sussex HER 345 - MWS4264, 346 - MWS5705, 347 - MWS5706. NMR SZ89NE18. PastScape 462278. LBS 297977.


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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