St.Mary’s Church of Sompting in West Sussex was originally of Saxon origin, and taken over and expanded by Templars. The last remaining example of ‘Rhinish Helm’ style. Some Saxon elements have survived, including high windows and stone plaster strips. Here Saxon meets Norman forces, Templars meet Hospitaller’s. Each holy order having its own surviving chapel.
The original church dates back to around 960 AD. The church and land were given to the ‘Order of the Knights Templar in 1154. The Templars commenced a building program; a new nave and chancel was built, using the original Saxon plan. They added north and south transepts, which were separate from the main church, and they were designed to function as private chapels, for use by the order.
The south transept was built in 1180, and was built lower than the rest of the building, to accommodate a small chancel and sacristy. Located on the west wall, one finds an arch of an original Norman window, and an abbot carving on the east wall. It is believed the south door leading to this chapel was originally higher to admit banners. The Norman font that stands in this church, stands on a modern-day pillar, and to the right one finds a piscina.