Hursley Church history

Hursley old church x150%

ALL SAINTS’ CHURCH, HURSLEY (adapted from All Saints' Church, Hursley - A History and Guide by S C Rawdon, 1993)


There have been at least three churches on the site.  The 18th century church was re-built in its present form by John Keble, the then vicar of the parish, who was anxious to provide a more worthy building for divine worship.  The architect was J.P. Harrison of the Oxford Architectural Society who was a follower of Pugin.  The cost was £6,000, excluding the windows and furnishings, paid for from the proceeds of Keble’s  “The Christian Year‟ and “Lyra Innocentium‟.  The foundation stone was laid on 20 May 1847 and the church was re-consecrated on 24 October 1848.


Walls: The walls of the previous church were re-faced with Burbage stone.  The 14th century tower was retained, but made higher, and the upper windows enlarged.  A spire was added, but it became unsafe and was removed in 1960.  The architectural style of the rebuilt part is decorated, whilst the older west window and west door are perpendicular.  The present church has a nave, and north and south aisles under separate roofs, enabling the addition of roof dormers which are unnoticed from the outside.  The north aisle was extended into line with the east wall of the chancel to provide a small vestry.


The Corbels:  Angels with shields form the corbels of the roof.  On the chancel arch are the heads of St Peter and St Paul as exponents of the inner mysteries.  By the east window are St Athanasius and St Augustine, champions of the faith.  On the inside of the north porch are Bishops Wykeham and Wayneflete, and outside are those of Bishops Andrewes and Ken.  Inside the south porch are St Augustine of Canterbury and the Empress Helena, and outside are those of Queen Victoria and Bishop Sumner to mark the date of the building.


Interior:  The carved wooden screen in the north aisle was made by a local carpenter in 1899 and carved by a number of local amateurs.  The book case in the north aisle was given to John Keble and his successors by the Misses Marsh, daughters of the Rev. John Marsh.  The Reredos (attributed to the architect A G R Mackenzie 1879-1963), and the panelling under the East window, is a memorial to those who fell in the 1914/18 war.  The names of those of the village who died in the 1939/45 war were added later.  The figures on the Reredos are St Alban, St Michael, Christ the King, St George and King Alfred.  It was installed in the church in 1921 and moved in 1994 from the East window, revealing wall tiles designed by Pugin, to the side chapel.  The war memorial on the main road commemorates all those from the village who served in the first world war.  The Bishop’s chair was made by James Laverty of Winchester in 1939 from oak obtained from the Hursley estate.  The Sedilia in the Sanctuary was carved in about 1896.

The registers date from 1599.  All except those in current use are lodged with the Hampshire Record Office in Winchester.  Two wooden boards at the rear of the south aisle list the incumbents since about 1250.


Organ:  The organ built in 1882 was restored by Cousans Sons & Co of Lincoln in 1908.  An electrical blower was fitted in 1949.  During major restoration in 1992 the pneumatic action was replaced with an electropneumatic action, and new stops replaced or added.  The swell organ provides considerable variety of tone and volume, and the enhanced pedal organ a welcome flexibility and versatility.  The instrument provides the player with the means for sympathetic accompaniment and also a rich sound for solo work.


Windows:  The windows are an excellent example of early Victorian stained glass and were completed in 1858.  They were designed to Keble‟s plan, modelled on those of his father‟s church at Fairford, to depict the sacred history as an aid to learning.


Exterior:  The tower clock is the work of John Moore & Son of Clerkenwell, London, dated 1855.  The Heathcote Mausoleum, in the south west part of the churchyard, was built by Sir Thomas Heathcote in 1771 for members of the Heathcote family, including those who were transferred into the Mausoleum from the church vault.


Bells: The bells, some dating from 1616, were renovated in 1978. In 1986 the ringing chamber was rebuilt and the clock mechanism re-sited.  In 1989 the bells were augmented to ten by the addition of two trebles incorporating metal from two small bells donated by St Luke’s Stanmore and by the addition of two further trebles in 2006 when the upper frame was extended to house three bells, the lower frame for two bells was retained and the lower wooden frame was replaced by one of steel, holding seven bells.