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St Andrew's Tangmere.JPG
St Andrew's Church
Tangmere is located in West Sussex
 Tangmere shown within West Sussex
Area  4.67 km2 (1.80 sq mi) [1]
Population 2,625. 2011 Census[2]
   – density  527/km2 (1,360/sq mi)
OS grid reference SU905065
   – London  52 miles (84 km) NNE 
Civil parish Tangmere
District Chichester
Shire county West Sussex
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district PO20
Dialling code 01243
Police Sussex
Fire West Sussex
Ambulance South East Coast
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Chichester
Website http://www.tangmere-online.co.uk/
List of places
West Sussex

Coordinates: 50°51′03″N 0°42′57″W / 50.8509°N 0.7157°W / 50.8509; -0.7157

Tangmere is a village, civil parish, and electoral ward in the Chichester District of West Sussex, England. Located three miles (5 km) north east of Chichester it is twinned with Hermanville-sur-Mer in Lower Normandy, France.

The parish has a land area of 467.3 hectares (1154 acres). In the 2001 census 2462 people lived in 963 households, of whom 1233 were economically active.[1]

Origin of the name[edit]

The origin of the name Tangmere is not certain. Mere implies a pool rather than a grand lake, and 'tang' is thought to mean tongs or a serpents tongue. It could be that Tangmere was the pool at the fork, or junction of two ancient paths. The pool was later filled in to form a small village green.[citation needed]


The Saxon village lies a mile south of the Roman road of Stane Street, linking Londinium with Noviomagus Reginorum, now known as Chichester. In 677 the controversial Bishop of York, Wilfrid (later Saint Wilfrid), came to Selsey and converted the South Saxons to Christianity. In 680 a charter, possibly by the King states: “I Caedwalla...have granted his brethren serving God at the church of St Andrew...the land of 10 hides which is called Tangmere”. A hide equated to 120 acres (49 hectares).

The Domesday Survey records that Tangmere had a population of around 120, with the stone church of St Andrew built after the Norman conquest.[3] Originally built of timber, the Saxon church was replaced in 1100 by a stone and timber building. Difficult to date precisely, the building incorporates scavenged and reused stone, including pre-Christian carved figures, Roman bricks; while the size of the yew tree by the present door suggests an ancient sacred site.[4] The church was added to in both the 12th century and in the Victorian era.[5]

In 1341, King Edward II granted the new Archbishop of Canterbury the right to hold a fair at Tangmere on St Andrew's Day. The event is still held by the church every autumn, as a result of which it is where the church got its name.[6]

The Manor of Tangmere was owned by the Archbishop of Canterbury until 1542, when Henry VIII claimed possession. It passed later to Cardinal Archbishop Pole and then to the Crown again, being granted by Elizabeth I to Richard Baker and then Sir Richard Sackville – a cousin of her mother Anne Boleyn.

In 1579 the manor became part of the Halnaker estate which was later acquired by the 3rd Duke of Richmond. When he died in 1806, the Goodwood estate, including Tangmere, totalled 17,000 acres (69 km²). Goodwood maintained ownership of Tangmere land until the 1930s.

Royal Air Force station[edit]

Main article: RAF Tangmere
RAF Tangmere Station Crest.jpg

Tangmere was formerly the home of the RAF Tangmere air station, which played a pivotal role in the Second World War, especially during the Battle of Britain. Part of the former airfield is now home to the Tangmere Military Aviation Museum. Founded in 1917 for use by the Royal Flying Corps as a training base, in 1918 it was turned over to the American Air Force.

Mothballed after the First World War, in 1925 the station re-opened to serve the Fleet Air Arm, and went operational in 1926 with No. 43 Squadron. 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. In August 1940 the first squadron (602) of Supermarine Spitfires was based at the satellite airfield at nearby Westhampnett. The first and worst enemy raid on the station came on 16 August 1940, when 100 Junkers Stuka dive bombers caused extensive damage to buildings and aircraft on the ground. Fourteen service people and six civilians were killed. 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. Today the cottage sports a commemorative blue plaque to its former secret life. As the RAF turned from defence to attack, the legendary Group Captain Douglas Bader – the legless fighter ace – commanded the Tangmere wing of Fighter Command. Today he is commemorated in the Bader Arms public house in the village, now converted to a Co-op grocery store. Many of those killed at the base, from both sides during the war, are buried in the cemetery of St Andrews church, tended to by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

After the war, the RAF High Speed Flight was based at Tangmere. In September 1946, a world air speed record of 616 miles per hour (991 km/h) was set by Group Captain Edward Mortlock Donaldson in a Gloster Meteor. In September 1953, Squadron Leader Neville Duke flew a Hawker Hunter at 727 miles per hour (1,170 km/h); the 50th anniversary of this event was commemorated in 2003. The station finally closed on 16 October 1970, when a single Spitfire flew over the airfield as the RAF ensign was hauled down.

Recent history[edit]

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 and aubergines.

Until 1983, 37 acres (15 ha) 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. However, some original RAF buildings remain, including three large hangars, the control tower and one of the 'H Block' accommodation buildings.

The Tangmere Military Aviation Museum, now a major visitor attraction and base for annual celebrations was founded by a group of enthusiastic veterans.

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. With the boom in modern housing there has been an influx of young families, most of whom work in and around Chichester.

Twin towns[edit]


  1. ^ a b "2001 Census: West Sussex – Population by Parish" (PDF). West Sussex County Council. Retrieved 22 May 2009. 
  2. ^ "Ward/Civil Parish population 2011". Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  3. ^ "History of the Village". tangmere-online.co.uk. Retrieved 14 July 2009. 
  4. ^ "RAF Tangmere". rafcaa.org.uk. Retrieved 14 July 2009. 
  5. ^ "St Andrews Church, Tangmere". Church of England. Retrieved 14 July 2009. 
  6. ^ "History of the Village: St Andrews Church". tangmere-online.co.uk. Retrieved 14 July 2009. 

External links[edit]