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.
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, 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.
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,
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.