History Files


Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Hampshire

by Peter Kessler, 28 May 2021

Test Valley Part 2: Churches of Ashley to Stockbridge

St Mary's Church, Ashley, Hampshire

St Mary's Church, Ashley, is on the outside eastern edge of the gentle bend in a lane that meanders through this hamlet. It was built in the early twelfth century, during the reign of the Norman King Henry I. Originally it was probably meant to serve Gains Castle, a Norman fortification that has since vanished. The chancel was lengthened midway through the 1200s, while the surviving windows all date to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The south porch was added in 1701.

St Mary's Church, Ashley, Hampshire

The church is a long, very narrow building of local stone, rubble flint, and brick, plastered except at the eastern end. It consists only of nave, chancel, and south porch, with two bells hung in small arches in the west gable. Interesting features inside include the triple chancel arch, a thirteenth century wall painting in the splay of a small Norman window in the chancel, the ancient south door, and a curious seventeenth century alms box that has been cut out of an oak post.

All Saints Church, Little Somborne, Hampshire

All Saints Church, Little Somborne, is on the east side of Somborne Park Road, opposite the farm house of Park Farm. It existed by the late 1000s when it was recorded in Domesday Book. In terms of the surviving Saxon part of the church, much of the two-celled original structure survives in the nave and the north end of the church. In 1170 the Normans removed the original chancel and extended the church eastwards, doubling its original length and adding a tiny new chancel.

All Saints Church, Little Somborne, Hampshire

Set in peaceful surroundings, it was constructed from local flint and calcareous stone, possibly brought across from the Isle of Wight, with a wooden bell cote added on a slate roof. Evidence of both periods is clearly seen in the walls, windows, and doorways. During archaeological excavations it was found that the Saxon west end actually extended for almost two metres beyond its present footprint. Sir Thomas Sopwith, the pioneer aviator, was buried here in 1989.

St Peter's (Old) Church, Stockbridge, Hampshire

St Peter's (Old) Church, Stockbridge, is on the west side of the A3057, about fifty metres south of the Winton Hill junction, east of the village. It was founded in the 1100s, but incorporated masonry from a much earlier Saxon chapel that was mentioned in Domesday Book. It acted as a chapel-of-ease for King's Somborne (see links). It was torn down in the 1870s when the new St Peter's was built, although the chancel was left standing and was restored in 1963.

All photos on this page kindly contributed by Sam Weller via the 'History Files: Churches of the British Isles' Flickr group. Additional information by Sam Weller.



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