In 2015 Tangmere Local History Group were lucky enough to obtain a grant from the Heritage Lottery fund in order to create this website.
The village of Tangmere, in West Sussex, has a long history. It has a 12th Century church and several listed houses in its conservation area. The village is well known outside the local area due to its association with the RAF who had an airfield in the village from the 1920s to 1970s,which was of immense importance particularly during the second world war. The influence of the airfield is still felt in the village in the naming of many roads and the presence of the popular Military Aviation Museum amongst other things.
Tangmere Local History Group was formed in 2000 and now arranges talks and visits for local residents on subjects of interest about the surrounding area.
The group has a small archive of photographs, maps and documents relating to the village which deserves to be more widely shared. Other local people also have interesting memories and memorabilia to share and we hope to capture many of these on this website. Tangmere is due to expand rapidly over the next few years so we hope to save these memories before the village expands so that residents present and future and others with an interest in the village can enjoy them.
If you have any documents or memories which you would like to see included on this website please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
West Sussex Record Office has a list of 784 documents about or relating to Tangmere on the online catalogue! This is a very small selection of the most interesting archives. For maps, see article – I have not repeated the map information here. I have excluded the Airfield, which has as many documents again.
Historic photos and images
See PH catalogue for photos and SLIDE catalogue for slides. Particularly interesting are:
Revd Alfred Glennie and family sitting in rectory garden
Photographs of Revd.
Mr. Glennie and family, Tangmere rectory and pond
An index of persons,
with occupations, living in Chichester, Pagham, Westbourne,
Tangmere and other places: probably an index to entries in the
manor court books belonging to the Archbishop of Canterbury
of probate inventories (lists of deceased peoples’ goods to
go with their wills). The transcripts were made in 2006 and cover
Deeds of the Bayley
family of Tangmere, including Charlotte, George, James and Jane
Deeds of the Osborn
family of Tangmere, including William and George
Add Ms 37838
Bennett family of
NC/XI/2/1 and 2
Registers of births
from Providence Chapel, Chichester – these contain entries
of people from Tangmere
Percy Belcher – the war years recorded by Susan
St Andrew’s Church
The church archives
contain registers of baptisms, marriages and burials, registers of
preachers and services, documents on the church building and
contents, and the churchyard, tithe information, minutes and
accounts of the PCC, railway plans, the school, the overseers of
the poor and surveyor of the highways. See catalogue for details
under Par 192
monumental inscriptions in the church. A record of inscriptions
on the grave-stones, kerbs, floor slabs, and tablets, 1731-1987.
Compiled by C.E.C. Townsend, Tangmere in 1990.
PD 2013/40A; PD 2343/83B and PD 2568/23
Engravings of the church: the exterior, a plan
and the parsonage
Late 18th and early 19th centuries
Photos of the
church. 1985 ones by P. Stanford-Gale
section and book of reference of Tangmere section of the
Chichester to Shoreham railway
also Quarter Sessions plans and drawings for proposed railways
Add Mss 50536-38
drawings from Bognor Regis Urban District Council for Boxgrove and
papers and plans relating to the stopping up and closure of
highways at Tangmere RAF Station
Sets of General and
Water Rate Books – rate books can be useful for checking
names and addresses. Volume B in each set contains Tangmere, as
well as the Parishes of Marden, North Mundham, Oving, Selsey,
Sidlesham, Singleton, Upwaltham, West Dean, Westhampnett, West
Itchenor, West Thorney and West Wittering
April 1935 – March 1957.
orders, with plan; 3 docs on the public footpath running east of
Woodfield House, Oving via Copse Farm to St. Andrews Church,
Tangmere News – parish council
Property, and Tangmere Manor
Tangmere has a rich seam of archives for its past, showing how the land was farmed and under whose authority. The archives at the record office
come from different places, but together show a comprehensive picture.
During the time Tangmere was part of the Goodwood estate (in 1765,
Charles, Duke of Richmond had purchased the Halnaker estate off Sir
Thomas Acland, after the death of Mary Morley, Countess Dowager of
Derby) record-keeping intensified, and this table only shows a small
part of the records held by Tangmere. If you want to research a
particular property, one of the best ways to start (besides the
survey volumes mentioned under Maps on this website) is to look under
Tangmere in the index of Volume 1 of the Goodwood hard copy
catalogues. Over fifty plots are given, besides the common fields
and the manor itself. As a consequence this table only shows the
documents for the whole manor.
roll, showing Tangmere Manor amongst others held at that time by
the Earls of Northumberland
of lands and tenements in the common fields and elsewhere,
freehold as well as copyhold, Belonging to the heirs of Edmund
Lewkenor, taken by Richard Stoughton, William Marckwyke, John
Barnard, Nicholas Andrewe, Roger Barnard, John Bennet and William
Barnham, copyholders, in the presence of William Stapleton, Edward
Bartlot, John Carpenter and Thomas Bett
collection was deposited by GO Rusbridger on behalf of himself and
the descendants of George Bayley of Tangmere. It is a big
collection of title deeds, plans, and surveys principally relating
to property at Tangmere, including the manor of Tangmere (and some
documents, not related here, for other places). Best bits are:
and surveys, including information on individual holdings in the
manor, and on enclosure, 1674-1822 (28866-74)
give lots of information on the size, layout ans age of the
1924 (SP 1895 and
1950 (SP 980)
c.1987 (SP 1988)
1988 (SP 2059)
1997 (SP 2712-2715)
2001 (SP 2914-2922)
2003 (SP 4216)
2005 (SP 3161-64, 3306)
Raper Mss 43,44
including general history, crashed wartime ME 109, Tangmere
Military Aviation Museum, Hawker Hurricane pilot Karel
Kuttelwascher, the Fighting Cocks, Battle of Britain, RAF
Tangmere, Tangmere Community Association, 1963-1994. Tangmere and
Oving Parish Magazine, 1995. Military Aviation Museum brochure,
1984. Sales Particulars for Pilgrims Cottage, 22 Saxon Meadows and
12 Saxon Meadow, 1994-1995.
Bundle of documents on 50th Anniversary of
D-Day Commemoration 1944-1994, and Commemoration of 50 Years of
Old maps are an indispensable source for understanding the history of our village. They give us a different view of a familiar landscape – all of these are available to study at West Sussex Record Office in Chichester. Tangmere is fortunate in having plenty of maps of the village from all ages, because it was part of a larger estate, whose owners were interested in their property.
1 Printed maps showing Tangmere
The earliest printed maps of the county date from the sixteenth century, when an interest in surveying began to grow, and English surveyors led the field in new methods of regional mapping. Nearly all of these show Tangmere, which was an important manor in its own right:
Christopher Saxton 
The first survey of England and Wales was carried out by Christopher Saxton between 1570 and 1578, and his atlas of 34 county maps was published in 1579. Sussex is grouped with Surrey, Kent and Middlesex, so it is small-scale, but it clearly shows Tangmere.
John Norden (PM 24)
Towards the end of the 16th century, John Norden, an attorney practising law in Middlesex, produced county maps based on original surveys. Some of these were intended for his Speculum Britanniae, which was to be descriptive text on each county, illustrated with the maps. Only Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex, Sussex and Surrey were published. Unlike Saxton’s maps, they showed roads, gave more information on settlements, and gave a rudimentary key to the features on the maps. Again Tangmere is marked.
The researcher has to be careful: Saxton’s and Norden’s small-scale county maps from the end of Elizabeth I’s reign have some (rather limited) value for illustrating what Sussex was like; but they were reprinted over and over again without revision (or acknowledgement) and so they are unreliable for the later versions.
John Speed  used Norden’s map in the Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine in 1611-12. Because the copper-plates used for the maps were valuable in themselves, some of the information on them remained basically unchanged, and Speed’s maps went on giving a date of 1610 until it was removed by Henry Overton in 1743.
[Pic too low resolution]
John Ogilby 
Later in the 17th century, John Ogilby published the Britannia, the first road atlas, in 1675. The maps are drawn as if on scrolls of paper, which follow the route prescribed by the map. Sussex is included in several routes: WSRO has copies of London to Chichester, London to Arundel, Guildford to Chichester and Midhurst to Winchester. Tangmere can be seen on the far right scroll, on the south of the route to Chichester. The church tower could evidently be seen from the road.
Richard Budgen 
The best-known map of 18th-century Sussex is that of Richard Budgen, published in 1724, including a wealth of detail previously omitted. It includes names of deaneries and of hundreds, and it shows roads, larger houses and parklands, churches and windmills. This revision of 1779 (PM 47) showing the area around Tangmere has a wealth of detail (despite the scruffiness of the map).
Yeakell and Gardner (PM 46) 
Then Gough announced a new venture: a “Great Survey” of Sussex at a scale of 2″ to the mile.
The two professional surveyors were Thomas Yeakell and William Gardner, both in the employ of Charles Lennox, 3rd Duke of Richmond, who was Master of the Ordnance. Tangmere was on the Goodwood estates, and so a natural candidate for all sorts of maps. Only four of the proposed eight sheets were published, between 1778 and 1783, which cover the south of the county. Yeakell died in 1789, but the Duke of Richmond continued to employ Gardner on private surveys of the county. In 1795 Gardner and Gream published the first one-inch survey of Sussex. C.B. Glot also worked on plans of the Goodwood estate, and WSRO has several examples of his work. Eventually the national survey was established.
2 Manuscript maps for Tangmere
These maps, which were being made at the same time as printed ones, were created to meet the demand by landowners for estate surveys in map as well as written form and reflect the increasing improvement in surveying techniques. A map was a more convenient aid to the identification of property than the bundle of title deeds needed to establish ownership. Tangmere was extraordinarily lucky in that well over a hundred maps have been drawn of it as a whole and of different properties within it, and for all sorts of reasons. West Sussex Record Office holds the Goodwood estate archives and the maps vary in quality and detail. Just some are illustrated here, but anyone can view the rest at the record office.
Goodwood map of Tangmere, 1630 (E4984) 
A Plott of Certaine Free Land belonging to Sr. William Morleye Knight Within the Mannor of Tangmore Taken by Tho Kington.
Many Estate Maps (particularly the earlier ones) have highly pictorial qualities, and this map is delightful, created for the local landowner, Sir William Morley. The manor of Tangmere was then part of the holdings of the Halnaker estate, which was hugely important at the time. The map covers 127 acres in three unidentified parcels; and it lacks any indication of compass direction or recognizable landmark. The barn, and palings or post and rail fences are shown in perspective view. Maps like these were created to meet the demand by landowners for estate surveys in map as well as written form and they were more convenient as an aid to identification of property than a bundle of title deeds, and more attractive to display.
Property surveys  and 
Later in the 17th century, George Bayley of Church Farm must have been involved in a survey of tenants, and elaborate workings out survive as well as early plans (add Mss 28868-73). These show the way in which common fields were divided up amongst the villagers. Mr Bayly must have known the other villagers well, and one can imagine any disputes were settled in the local pub.
In the closing years of the eighteenth century and down to about 1850, came an explosion of mapmaking, and the surveyors working for the Duke of Richmond were involved on a local as well as national level. By now the manor of Tangmere was part of the Goodwood estate by the end of the 18th century – in 1765, Charles, Duke of Richmond had purchased the Halnaker estate off Sir Thomas Acland, after the death of Mary Morley, Countess Dowager of Derby.
At the Record Office are three volumes of maps from the Goodwood estate, which relate directly to Tangmere (Goodwood E135, E136 and E137). A complete list of the maps in them appears at the end of this introduction but some examples are shown here:
Tangmere, late 18th century (Goodwood E135) 
Tangmere, c.1790, slightly smaller scale, (Goodwood E136) 
Tangmere, c.1800, plan drawn onto a printed copy of a Yeakell and Gardner (Add Ms 47646) 
All these maps name fields and, roads etc. Buildings are shown in block plan, and the fields are often illustrated to show the state of their cultivation. Fields and strips can be coloured and numbered to correspond with tables of reference – unfortunately for Add Ms 47646, this is no longer in existence.
Private enclosure plans 1817 (Goodwood E5182) 
At the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries, landowners began to close down common land, and re-arrange tenancies to make bigger fields. Sometimes this was done by an Act of Parliament, but on the Goodwood estate it was done privately and piecemeal. This draft plan shows the old strip field tenancies in black, and the new ‘allotments’ with their new tenants in red.
Tangmere tithe map (TD/W 124)
Tithe maps and apportionments, which were the result of the surveys following the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836, are an important source for many types of study and research including family and local history as well as historical and geographical academic studies, hedgerow and archaeological site enquiries, and boundary and rights of way disputes.
As a result of the Act, tithe surveys were set up to cover the whole of England and Wales. The apportionments are the legal instruments that laid down the agreements made between the tithe owners and land owners, or an award made by the Commissioners where an agreement could not be reached. The maps provide a visual record of the tithe areas, on which the numbers correspond to those recorded in the apportionment.
The maps show roads, buildings, rivers, and lakes and often many other features – 2 classes. Often colour coded. 26.6 or 13.3” to mile. Apportionments give names of landowners, occupiers, property description (field names),acreage, state of cultivation, and rent charge.
The Tangmere Local History Society has an electronic copy of the tithe map, with the apportionment (the reference table of owners) attached.
Deposited Plans (QDP/W 73) 
If people wanted to construct, or improve, a road, canal, railway, tramway, harbour, pier, or a public facility such as gas, water and electricity systems, then other people’s property or lifestyle might well be affected. For example they may have needed to acquire land owned by others or the scheme might involve the diversion of rivers, it may have been necessary to build a bridge, cross a public highway, or simply run their scheme close to houses. These activities therefore had to be authorised by an Act of Parliament, and the person promoting the project was required to deposit a copy of the plan of the proposed works, together with a book of reference, with the Clerk of the Peace. The plans had to list owners and occupiers of land affected by the proposals and be available for public inspection.
Because Tangmere was on a large estate, anything like this would have to have the permission of the landowner, and on the whole this meant that Tangmere was not affected by big industrial projects. However, there are some plans which affected the village, and maybe seen in the Quarter Sessions records at the record office. They include the proposed line of the railway from London to Portsmouth (QDP/W 73). The existence of a plan does not mean that permission to go ahead with the project was given. There are many plans held for which the scheme did not go ahead, and this was one of them. However, it shows adjacent occupiers to the proposed line, and obstacles which would have to be overcome. With the plans were calculations for inclines that the trains might have to climb.
Parts of the south of the village belonged to the Woodhorn Prebend estate, owned by the cathedral, and those farms are shown in plans of 1859 (Cap I/29/40). It has to be said that these plans are not very informative, but if you are interested in these properties, other kinds of records amongst the cathedral archives are worth pursuing.
3 Ordnance Survey Maps
The second half of the nineteenth century belongs to the large-scale Ordnance Survey maps, covering all of the country at 6 inches and at 25 inches to the mile. The development of Tangmere can be traced through the different versions and revisions, and the Record Office holds them all.
OS Drafts, 1805-1806 (PM 280) 
On June 21 1791 Charles, 3rd Duke of Richmond (then Master of Ordnance) allocated public funds to buy a new state-of- the-art theodolite This is generally regarded as the foundation date of the Ordnance Survey. The threat of French invasion following the declaration of war in 1793, hastened surveying activity and by the end of the war in 1815, most of Southern England and Wales had been mapped accurately for the first time. Early surveying at 2 or 3” to mile and published at 1”.
Old series OS for Tangmere, carried out about 1813 
The County series of Ordnance survey maps was begun in the 1850s, for both 6″ and 25″, but Sussex was one of the last counties to be done, and most of it was published in the 1870s.
1st edition OS LXII 6″ for Tangmere, c.1874 
1st edit 25″ for Tangmere 
The Ordnance Survey’s large-scale maps made private mapping by independent surveyors completely redundant. Estate maps could instead be produced simply by marking up an OS map. From late Victorian times, printed particulars for the sale of land could include cheaply produced maps based on the OS and coloured up to show the different lots being offered.
The National Grid system was introduced after the Second World War, and continuous revision replaced the 20-year cycle. This meant that some places had several revisions and others very few, depending on the development of the landscape.
A change to metrication in 1969 resulted in slight changes to the scales. All these maps were produced through survey work, but now publication is based on digital mapping, and maps produced as the need arises.
One of the joys of this project has been talking to people who remember what life was like in the village during the second world war. At our first Open Day we met John Chappell who lived in what is now Chestnut Walk as a child. It was fascinating to hear his stories of life with the airmen about the village and he brought his childhood sketchbook to share with us and we reproduce some of his pictures here.
Phyl Norrell lived near what is now the roundabout on the A27 and has also told us tales of what it was like in what was then a very rural village. Some of Phyl’s memories will be added to the website as audio files shortly.
On Wednesday 15th October, 2003 at around midday, the church spire was struck by a lightning bolt. The lightning destroyed the tiles on the spire, passed into the church and a fireball exploded, which could be heard for some distance around.
Four fire engines attended the scene and discovered that all but one of the ancient windows had been blown out. They quickly dealt with a small fire in the spire and a number of hotspots within the roof space.
The church rector, Canon Colin Fowler, said that “it was not the fire that caused the damage, it was the explosion in the church itself that blew out the stained glass windows. Fortunately nobody was in the church, as they definitely would not have survived.”
The one remaining window was laid out on the grass outside – but the next morning it had been stolen.
Caedwalla Drive: King of Wessex in AD680, who gave 1200 acres of land at Tangmere to the church of St. Andrew at Pagham.
Neville Duke Way: Squadron Leader Neville Frederick Duke DSO, OBE, DFC**, AFC, FRAeS
Bayley Road: John Bayley was a farmer and landowner in Tangmere
Tangmere dates back to at least AD680, when Caedwalla, King of Wessex, is recorded as giving 10 hides of land (about 1200 acres) at Tangmere to the church of St. Andrew at Pagham. The Domesday Book (1086) records that Tangmere had a population of around 120, with the stone church of St Andrew built after the Norman conquest. Originally built of timber, the Saxon church was replaced in 1100 by a stone and timber building. In 1341 Edward II granted Tangmere the right to hold an annual fair on St. Andrew’s Day.
The manor of Tangmere was held by the Archbishop of Canterbury until 1542, when Henry VIII seized it for the crown. It was later granted by Elizabeth I to Sir Richard Sackville (a cousin of Anne Boleyn). In 1579 the manor became part of the Halnaker estate which was later acquired by the 3rd Duke of Richmond. Goodwood maintained ownership of Tangmere land until the 1930s.
The village name originates from “tang” meaning a fork and “mere” meaning a pond. The pond was situated at the junction of Tangmere Road and Chestnut Walk, and was filled in some years ago.
Tangmere Airfield was established in 1917 by the RAF, but construction had only just been completed by the end of the war in 1918. In 1939 the airfield was enlarged to defend the south coast against attack by the Luftwaffe, with Tangmere’s only hotel and some houses being demolished in the process. The RAF commandeered the majority of houses in the centre of the village, with only six to eight families being allowed to stay. Throughout the war, the station was also a secret base for the Special Operations Executive, who flew agents in and out of occupied France to strengthen the Resistance. The SOE used Tangmere Cottage, opposite the main entrance to the base.
After the war, the RAF High Speed Flight was based at Tangmere. In September 1953, Squadron Leader Neville Duke flew a Hawker Hunter at 727 miles per hour flying from the airfield over a course off Rustington. In June 1958, Fighter Command left Tangmere, but the airfield remained operational until 16th October 1970.
Following the closure of the RAF station, some of the land around the runways was returned to farming. Tangmere Airfield Nurseries have built huge glasshouses for the cultivation of peppers.
Until 1983, 37 acres of barracks, admin blocks and repair workshops remained derelict until bought by Seawards Properties Ltd. Housing soon spread around the airfield, and much RAF building was demolished and officers’ houses retained as homes.
The Parish Council was established in 1966, since when the village has slowly resumed its development as a rural community rather than a military one. The population in the 2011 census was 2625.