A Bit of History

The church, a Grade II listed building, can trace its history back to the village of Bectun, Becton or Becthon, which was the name of the village in Saxon and Norman times, and its original meaning was a settlement by the bend. The bend is that of the River Rother. There was no mention of the church in the Domesday Survey of 1087 but it was noted as the “Church of Saint Radegwanda of Becton” in a late 13th century charter.

Based on the evidence of the original Norman Arch, rediscovered during the major restoration of the church in 1868, it is believed that the Church was built around 1150 AD. The Tower Arch remains and is Early English. The Church was developed and improved with the Nave Arcade and with the original chancel windows in the Decorated Period. The side aisles and Nave roof were updated in the Perpendicular style in the 15th century. The present Tower was built around 1456.

Much redevelopment and improvement of the church was undertaken in Victorian times, following the appointment of Revd. George Antrobus in 1865. Finding that the building was in poor condition, he arranged for substantial work to be undertaken, including raising the floor to its original level; rebuilding the Chancel and South aisle walls; and completely re-roofing the Church.

The clock and chiming mechanism and the lych-gate were installed as First and Second World War Memorials. The current chimes were a replacement electronic system put in after the most recent re-ordering.

The Church interior was re-ordered in 2007/8 to enable more flexible use and access as a community resource. The replacement of the pews with modern seating and the provision of kitchen and toilet areas enabled choral and youth theatre groups to make better use of the Church, as well as visits from local schools and the staff and residents of a nearby residential home for the elderly.

Some of the more significant historical and architectural features of the church are:-

  • the present tower, dating from around 1456, has the curious capital design of a human head with a distended mouth
  • an early 14th century restored piscina in the South Aisle that suggests there was an altar there
  • the upper part of the window tracery on the South side of the Chancel is original from the 15th century
  • stained glass windows installed in 1872, 1888 and c1870, and 15th century fragments in the aisle windows
  • 19th century Italian alabaster reredos
  • memorials including incised slab, 1480, to John Tynker, and brasses from 1667 and 1753.