Celebrate 500 years of history

The 500th anniversary of a carved Tudor screen in Steyning Parish Church is being marked by a series of community events, including a world premiere performed by local harp quartet, Glissando.

An intricately carved Tudor oak screen in Steyning Parish Church is the inspiration for a series of special events for children and adults this October. This finely carved screen, which comprises 47 separate panels, measures 8 feet high by 14 feet long. It bears the date 1522 and was created to commemorate the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon.

Despite its fine, regal origins, the screen has a tumultuous and tortuous past. It appears to have been made originally for a room in the Tudor palace of the then Bishop of London in Fulham. After the Reformation in the 16th century, when the screen’s connection with a Roman Catholic marriage became a liability, it was removed from the Palace and eventually made its way down to Sussex.

The screen remained in obscurity for several hundred years, tucked away in the Vicarage in Steyning, with its true splendour only recognised when it was taken to its present home in Steyning’s Parish Church in 1983.

To celebrate the beauty and rich, 500-year history of the screen, The Friends of Steyning Parish Church are arranging four special events in October:


The events will feature local harp quartet, Glissando, who will perform a ‘Concert for Catalina’, including the world premiere of ‘Catalina Suite’, written by Alex Rider and inspired by the splendour of the Tudor panel. Appearing alongside Alex will be harpists Helen Arnold, Kate Ham and Fiona Hosford. This event will be on 23rd October.

Talk & presentation

The story behind the screen will be revealed at a one-off evening talk: What Lies Behind the Screen: Royalty, Religion and Scandal. This will be on Tuesday 4th October and given by Alexis Haslam, Community Archaeologist at Fulham Palace, in London.

Children’s event

Children can also join in the celebrations during the half-term and have ‘Fun with the Tudors’ on 27th October for an afternoon of art, dance, stories and dressing up in Tudor costume. No charge for this event, however booking is essential (at Steyning Book Shop). Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Guided Tour

Additionally, on 11th October, there is the opportunity for a guided tour of Fulham Palace, the original 15th century home of the panel and its 13 acre botanic garden. This includes stunning planting, rare trees and a beautiful listed walled garden.

“We have a fabulous line-up of events to celebrate the 500th anniversary of this Tudor screen which sits in the Norman gem of our Parish church. We look forward to seeing people from all over the local area joining these events,” said Sarah Leigh, of the Friends of Steyning Parish Church.

The Friends of Steyning Parish Church is a community organisation made up of people from across the community of Steyning and beyond, whether church goers or not. New members are very welcome and membership is free.  Members receive invitations to events and updates on developments at the church.