I thought I’d check out the final three in Hampshire that I hadn’t yet seen. In fact, I went just a little further but, for now, we will stick to Hampshire.
First on the list was St Mary’s Church at Itchen Stoke near Winchester. Ever heard of Itchen Stoke? No, probably not, but then why would you have? It’s a tiny little place (although it is served by roads you can get two lanes on) in the Hampshire countryside.
But then in this tiny little place you get this redundant parish church that has windows like this.
This church is a Victorian masterpiece. The first village church was built before 1270 but was demolished in the 1830s when a replacement was built. However, the replacement was not liked by the incumbent Charles Conybeare who persuaded the Bishop of Winchester it ought to be demolished and less than 40 years after it was built, it was replaced with this.
And it’s not just the windows that are amazing, the walls are line with these incredible tiles. There are marble columns in the porch and the font is inlaid with marble and the whole place just gives the impression of Victorian grandeur.
And yet it is not used on a regular basis, the Church of England has decided it is surplus to requirements. But that’s because this large and impressive church served a parish of very few people.
Now if St Mary’s was a surprise, my next stop – Holy Trinity in the tiny hamlet of Privett – was even more astounding.
I like the lych gate.
It was financed in the 1870s by the Nicholson family, who owned a gin distillery in London. It’s huge, ornate, ostentatious, the epitome of what Victorian money could buy.
The floor is of Italian marble, the walls of bath stone, it is big, bright and beautiful.
There’s a nice little history display with information about the Nicholson family, the church and the parish. It includes a list of all the inscriptions in the graveyard and where abouts those graves can be found.
The list includes names like Conybeare, Falwasser and Earwaker, which I loved. If you are writing a novel set in Victorian times, head on down here for some ideas about names.
Driving through this little country parish I saw just four people and a dozen or so houses. There’s no way a place of this size would warrant a church that huge, so I’m not surprised it fell into disuse. But what a building. Incidentally, the four people I saw – two were young girls on horseback and the other two were wandering down the street with double barreled shotguns. That doesn’t happen where I live :)
Just four miles down the road, up some single track roads, I moved from Victorian times to Medieval. And, as much as the Victorians were quite awe inspiring, I mostly prefer the Medieval churches. The Victorians are a little too over the top for my tastes.
Anyway, this is St Peter ad Vincula (St Peter in Chains) in Colemore, Hampshire. I love the location.
Colemore is mentioned in the Doomsday book and there has been a church on this site since around the 10th century. The bells are from 1370 and 1627 – I wonder which one is which – and the ladder leading up to them is centuries old too.
The original south transept was removed in the 1660s after it fell into disrepair and many times over the centuries the church has been declared to be in a ruinous state.
But it isn’t now, it is beautiful.
It came under the control of Waverley Abbey about six or seven hundred years ago, so that gave me somewhere else to visit yesterday. And, being on a bit of a roll I also decided to take in one more church … but that’s another story.
So that’s a county ticked off. These three were the last of the nine churches I had to see in Hampshire and they were more than worth the effort.
I have also ticked off all the Churches Conservation Trust churches in Rutland – but actually, they only amounted to one :)