A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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Nothing is known of the Saxon church, ecclesia primitive, of Christchurch beyond the reference (fn. 1) to its destruction by Flambard, with nine other churches which stood in the surrounding churchyard, soon after the 'minster' was granted to him by the king.
Flambard began to build the Romanesque church, of which much still remains, and its general planning must be attributed to him. At his banishment in 1100 it was unfinished, and his successor, Gilbert de Dousgunels, continued and completed the work, including the rest of the conventual buildings.
The church had an eastern arm, probably of three bays with aisles, ending at the east in an apse, while the aisles were square-ended externally. There was a central tower with north and south transepts having apsidal chapels on the east, and an aisled nave of eight bays, which may have had towers over the west bay of each aisle. There were three crypts, one in the east bay of the eastern arm and one in the end bay of each transept. Those in the transepts remain perfect, while that in the eastern arm has lost its apse, but is otherwise complete, and is of great value as evidence for the plan of the east end of Flambard's church.
In the transepts a great deal of the original work still remains, and there is sufficient evidence to show that there was an upper floor over the whole of their area, up to the tower piers, carried on stone vaults. With the possible exception of the Confessor's church at Westminster, this seems to be the only English example of this feature, which is in any case rare and a mark of early work. There is evidence for it in France at Jumiéges and probably at Bayeux. The fashion, however, was soon given up, and it is clear that the floor was removed early in the history of the church.
The record of the hallowing of a number of altars, including the high altar, between 1195 and 1221, points to some considerable alterations in the east part of the church, and it is probable that during this work the transept floors were removed. Their removal made it impossible to get directly from the nave triforium to that in the eastern arm, and a wall was built across the east end of the former in the north aisle, which can be to some degree dated by the painting on it, the style of which points to an early date in the 13th century.
The 13th-century alterations were carried on into the nave, where a stone vault was prepared for over the main span, the clearstory rebuilt, the aisles refaced and revaulted, and the north-west porch added.
About 1250–60 work was again taken up in the transepts, the eastern apse of the north transept being removed and two square-ended chapels with a room over them put in its place; in the south transept the apse was retained, but a chapel inserted between it and the south aisle of the presbytery, in a curiously cramped position, a great part of the aisle wall having to be cut away to make room for it. The nave vault was never completed, and about 1330 a wooden roof was made over it, which still remains, though now hidden by a modern vault of plaster.
The story of the central tower is lost; the gable over its east arch seems to contain late 12th-century work, so that it may have been altered when the rest of the eastern part of the church was being dealt with. It is said to have fallen in the 15th century, and the rebuilding of the upper parts of the north transept about 1450 gives some probability to the story. The west tower seems to have been begun late in the 15th century to replace it.
If, as has been suggested, the eastern arm of the church was altered, and probably enlarged, at the end of the 12th century, all traces of such work have been swept away by later developments. The present Lady chapel has commonly been identified with the 'new chapel' in Christchurch mentioned in the will of Sir Thomas West, 1405, as the place where his mother Alice, ob. 1395, was buried. Two tombs, north and south of the altar in this chapel, are shown in evidence of this as being the tombs of Sir Thomas and his mother, but they bear no heraldry or inscriptions, and are of far later date, neither being earlier than the first quarter of the 16th century. The details of the chapel itself are also too advanced for a date at the end of the 14th century, and if, as seems likely, the vault is of the same date as the walls, it is impossible to assign to the chapel any date before the second half of the 15th century. The eastern parts of the quire aisles are coeval with it, but there is a break in the second bay from the east in each aisle which shows a pause in the work. The rest of the eastern arm, with its aisles, belongs to this second instalment of building, which completed the remodelling of the church up to the tower and transepts. The work is of late Gothic type, and its completion must be dated well into the first quarter of the 16th century, the initials of William Eyre, prior, 1502–20, occurring on the high vault and on the arch at the west end of the south aisle. A similar vault existed over part of the south transept, doubtless made after the completion of the work in the quire, but was taken down in modern times.
The later history of the church cannot be dealt with here, but mention must be made of the extensive repairs carried out in the last century under Mr. Benjamin Ferrey, and during the past few years further works of repair have been carried on.
The Lady chapel is of three bays, with a five-light east window and four-light north and south windows in the eastern bay. In the second bay are similar windows, which only serve the purpose of wall panelling, their western halves being overlapped by the east walls of the side chapels, and their eastern halves now blocked with thin brickwork, though originally open. The third bay is lighted by the traceried heads of windows rising above the roofs of the east chapels of the aisles, to which arches open on either side. Below the east window are the mutilated remains of a fine stone reredos, preserving, besides the panelled pedestals and mutilated canopies of three tiers of imagery, only six of the smallest figures. Below is the original Purbeck marble altarstone, set on a plastered brick base. On the side walls of the two east bays of the chapel, below the windows, are wall arcades, six cusped arches to a bay, with crocketed canopies and tall trefoiled panelling over, ending in a band of quatrefoils; in the east bay the arcading has been cut away for canopied altar tombs set in recesses in the wall, that on the north being attributed to Sir Thomas West, 1405, and that on the south to his mother, Lady West, 1395. Both are, however, of 16thcentury date, the former being an excellent specimen of the late Purbeck marble tomb found all over the south of England, with a panelled and crested cornice and a panelled base. The cornice is carried by a screen of trefoiled arches with moulded mullions, an unusual treatment due to the fact that the north side of the tomb, now walled up, opened to a vestry, of which nothing now remains. The tomb on the south has a Purbeck marble base and slab, but a stone canopy with panelled back and sides; the original cresting has been destroyed. There is, unfortunately, no heraldry, device or inscription on either tomb, unless the crosses on the southern tomb are such. They suggest that the tomb may perhaps be that of one of the Berkeleys of the Hampshire branch.
On the altar slab are set several pieces of canopies, not belonging to the reredos behind, and three carved panels of the Coronation of our Lady, the Ascension and the Nativity. The resemblance of the two latter to contemporary alabaster panels is very marked.
The chapel is covered with a stone stellar vault springing from clustered vaulting shafts with foliate capitals of a peculiar type; the ribs, however, are brought down, as in the 16th-century vaults of Henry VII's chapel at Westminster and the quire of Oxford Cathedral, on to lantern-like pendants standing out clear of the vaulting shafts. Between the second and third bays the spacing makes a wide transverse arch necessary, and the vaulting is here arranged to spring from pairs of pendants side by side, the intersection of the ribs which rise from them being very cleverly managed. Between the wall ribs of the vault and the window heads is a soffit panelled with quatrefoiled circles in the two eastern bays, but in the western bay, where it is considerably wider, it is treated with large oblong cinquefoiled panels. At the west the Lady chapel is closed by the back of the great screen over the high altar, the side doorways of which, part of the original 14th-century work, open to a narrow gallery running across the west end of the chapel, while above them the screen is faced with blank panelling of 15th-century style, filling the west arch of the chapel.
Over the Lady chapel is a room known as St. Michael's Loft, reached by external stairs from the eastern chapels of the aisles; it was for some time used as a school, the entrance to the north stair being altered to admit the children from outside; its original doorway opening from the north aisle still exists, and that to the south aisle remains unaltered. The room is lighted by pairs of mullioned and transomed windows on either side and by a three-light window on the east, flanked by niches; it has evidently contained an altar. At its west end is a low square opening through which the cornice of the high altar screen can be reached. The roof is of flat pitch with moulded beams and covered with lead, and has a stone parapet of pierced quatrefoils with rectangular embattled pinnacles at the eastern angles, and large heads carved on the cornice beneath.
The eastern arm of the church is of four bays, two making the presbytery and two the quire, lighted by tall four-light windows in each bay, with blank panelling below them and low four-centred arches opening to the aisles. The vault is like that of the Lady chapel, and has carved bosses in the middle of each bay inscribed with XPC, IHC, HR, and Dns, while those on the transverse ribs have a W and an E, perhaps for William Eyre, prior, 1502–20; at the east end is an angel holding a church and at the west end another with the quartered arms of Montagu and Monthermer. These arms, as Mr. Herbert Druitt points out, suggest a much earlier date than c. 1500 for the vault, but the advanced construction is against such a conclusion.
The two west bays are occupied by the quire stalls, and in the next bay to the east are the side entrances from the aisles and seven steps leading up to the altar platform in the east bay; under the two east bays is a crypt, which causes the rise in the floor levels.
The east wall of the presbytery is taken up by the splendid stone altar screen, which dates from c. 1360. It has three tiers of canopied niches, now for the most part empty; but fortunately the principal niche in the middle of the second tier still contains a group of the Nativity, while below it is the recumbent figure of Jesse between seated figures of David and Solomon. Whether the scheme of a 'Jesse Tree' was carried in to all the other niches does not appear, as no traces of the stem are to be seen in them. The smaller figures, set one above another in the buttresses which separate the principal niches from each other, are for the most part still in their places. There are in the lower part of the screen four of these buttresses, but from the canopies over the central subject (the Nativity) two more rise, making six in the upper or third tier. In each of the four buttresses occupying the middle and lowest ranges of the screen are five standing figures, and of these the three lowest in each buttress form part of the Jesse Tree and hold the twining stem, which ends in a leafy branch over the head of the uppermost figure in each set of three. In the third buttress from the north, however, the uppermost of the three figures is that of a man in 14th-century civil costume, perhaps a donor of the screen. The remaining figures appear to be, in the north buttress, St. Michael and a bearded man wearing a hood; in the next St. Helen and a king holding a club; in the third a bearded man holding a circular object and a bearded man in gown and hood, probably a second donor, and in the south buttress a king with a sword held upright and a woman holding a book. It must be noted that very clumsy repairs to the heads of some of the figures make the identification very hazardous; in the central group of the Nativity the heads of Our Lady and the Child, and the right hand of St. Joseph, with other details, are repairs of the most clumsy and disfiguring kind. The details of the original drapery, which are largely perfect, show the true excellence of the 14thcentury work.
In the upper tier of the screen the six buttresses, flanking five empty canopied niches, of which the central niche is wider and higher than the others, contain twelve seated figures, two in each buttress, those on either side of the central niche being larger and in higher relief than the eight others. These latter are clearly apostles, and the remaining four may be so also, in spite of the fact that one now has a woman's head restored in a barbarous style. The two principal figures, the uppermost in the two middle buttresses, retain only fragments of their emblems, but are probably St. Peter and St. Paul. The screen is crowned with a crested cornice, probably dating from the time of the rebuilding of the presbytery, in the middle of which is part of a mutilated projecting canopy, doubtless that from which, as in other screens of the kind, the Host in its pyx was suspended. The top of the cornice forms a narrow gallery, reached, as already noted, from the loft over the Lady chapel.
On the north side of the altar platform stands the tomb chapel of Margaret Pole Countess of Salisbury, beheaded in 1541. It completely fills the eastern bay of the north arcade of the quire, and is vaulted in two bays, with traceried and transomed four-light windows on either side. Above the windows the chapel rises in two stages on the quire side, the upper stage treated as a long singlecanopied recess, the lower stage divided into three recesses in each bay. All these were intended to be filled with imagery, but none of it is left, nor, except in one instance, is there any mark that images were ever set up. The exception is the upper stage of the east bay, where two pinholes remain. This was filled by a group of the Ascension, the feet and skirts of the ascending Christ remaining under the tall canopy which rises above the centre of the niche.
At the angles of the chapel and between the bays slender octagonal pilasters, flanked in the lower part by canopied niches, rise above the canopies of the uppermost stage and end in octagonal capitals. Towards the aisle the same general arrangement exists, but the aisle vault comes down to the heads of the tracery windows and has been very cleverly adapted to fit the top of the tomb. The aisle floor being considerably lower than that of the altar platform, the stage below the chapel window, which is filled with simple tracery on the south side, is towards the aisle enriched with a line of twelve canopied niches, and below them a panelled basement breaking back into a deep central recess, which is spanned by horizontal lintels carried in the middle of their length by the pier from which the central buttress rises. At the south-west angle of the chapel is the stair from the aisle, set in a rectangular staircase, with the door on the north and a wide niche on the upper stage on the north and west. Below the western niche is a square panel, now filled, like the niche above, with modern inscribed slabs.
In the interior the upper part of the east wall or the chapel is filled with three canopied niches with corbels, below which are shields; on the middle shield are the Five Wounds, while the two others are blank, though that on the south is encircled by a garter. Below is the lower part of the jamb of the arch which was removed when the chapel was built.
At the west is a wide niche, and between the windows on north and south are others, now all empty, and on the fan vault of the roof are three carved bosses, mutilated by the Royal Commissioners in 1541. On the middle boss the countess kneels before the Trinity and the other bosses have defaced shields of arms, the Pole coat being still recognizable.
The mixture of Italian and English work on this tomb makes it one of peculiar interest. The construction and architectural details are English Gothic work, and this extends to the crockets and canopies of the niches, the crestings, &c.; but the purely ornamental carving is for the most part Italian and of the most delicate and beautiful execution. The only parts of the chapel where the form as well as the detail is definitely non-Gothic are the two domed canopies which rise above the recesses on the south side. In the floor of the recess beneath the tomb are a number of glazed tiles, many of them of the time of Prior John Draper II and bearing his initials, and these also are of Italian detail.
On the south side of the altar platform is the modern Gothic tomb and effigy of Corisande Emma Countess of Malmesbury, 1876, and beneath it towards the aisle the bay is filled with a stone panelled screen on which is fixed a stone boss formerly in the south transept. This boss is decorated with an angel holding a shield charged with an admirably carved skull in high relief and with the name of one of the two John Drapers who were priors here. On the cornice of the screen are bosses with angels playing musical instruments, and the panels beneath rise from a wide and low arch now blocked, but once open to the crypt beneath; traces of a like arch appear below the Salisbury chapel. The screen is continued in the second bay of the quire, but is interrupted in the west part of these bays by the steps which formed the upper entrances to the quire.
The quire stalls, occupying the two remaining bays, are of early 16th-century date, showing the same mixture of Gothic and Italian feeling. They are in two ranges, fifteen in the upper range on each side, eleven in the lower range, and six at the west, three on either side of the quire door. In the upper range the stalls have panelled backs separated by buttressed styles and finished with a carved and crested cornice, while the stalls on either side of the quire door and that at the east of the southern range have traceried half-octagonal canopies over them. It is clear that the original arrangement has been a good deal altered, whether at a repair in 1820 or at some other date; octagonal shafts, connected by open tracery with the buttresses on the panelling, originally stood on the arms of the upper tier of stalls; signs of alterations in the cornice are evident, and much of the pierced cresting is of lead, dating from 1820. The heads of the panels are filled with carving of Italian style in low relief, of early 16th-century date, though a considerable number are modern copies. Pairs of animals or of human or monsters' heads form the general motives, on an unpierced background with a shaped lower edge, but a few on the south side are in higher relief with pierced backgrounds. The stall-arms are supported by crouching monsters of late Gothic character, among them being represented the well-worn mediaeval jests of the preaching fox and the man robbed by his dog. The misericordes are in like manner of late Gothic style, only a very few showing definite Italian detail. There are now thirty-nine in all, thirty-five of which are of the date of the stalls, while two are of the 15th and two of the 13th century. The last two are of course remarkable for their early date, and support large hollowed seats; one has a beautiful design of dragons in foliate scrolls, entirely undercut, and the other three foliate corbels. The 15th-century seats are angular, and their carvings are two of the evangelistic symbols, the angel and the lion, the former between a pair of quaint two-legged monsters. The 16thcentury seats are segments of circles, and the subjects of their carvings are of the usual quaint or grotesque nature—a fool with his bauble, a fish, a dog with a bone, a man with club and buckler fighting a swan, a dog and a rabbit, &c. The standards of the stalls have wide panels of more pronounced Italian type, but some have Gothic tracery, and all are finished with pairs of animals in relief, &c.
At the west of the stalls is the stone pulpitum, which, though so 'restored' as to be almost entirely new as regards its details, is a 15th-century work, the panelled base and the shafts of the canopied buttresses towards the nave being old.
The crypt under the presbytery is of two bays, the western and narrower being part of Flambard's work; it has a plain barrel vault, and at the east a semicircular arch with plain cushion capitals and halfround responds, and a double roll on the soffit of the arch. The arch stands on the chord of the original apse, which in the 15th century was destroyed to make room for the present wide rectangular eastern bay, which was formerly lighted from three sides through low arched openings, now blocked. Against its east wall is the burial-place of the Earls of Malmesbury. The entrance to the crypt is in the south wall of the western bay, and the opening seems original, though there is nothing to show how the stairs were planned in the first instance.
The north aisle of the eastern arm is of five and a half bays, with four-light windows in each bay except that at the west, which opens into the chapels of the north transept, and in its eastern half-bay are a four-light east window and a two-light north window, the eastern half of which was from the first blank, on account of the stair built outside it, and its western half is now also blocked. In the east wall are two image brackets, a very beautiful canopied piscina in the south wall, with three small brackets for cruets, and in the north wall a square locker and a corbel. Here stands a Purbeck marble altar-tomb with alabaster effigies said to be those of Sir John and Lady Chidioke, 1455; the floor here is raised one step above that of the aisle, and there are marks of a screen on the line of the step. The aisle has a stellar vault springing from engaged circular shafts with foliate capitals; their bases rise from the floor on the south, but on the north from a stone benchtable, except in the eastern half-bay. The alteration in the vault to fit the Salisbury chapel has already been noticed. In the first bay from the east is the blocked door to the stair leading to St. Michael's Loft, and in the fourth bay is another blocked door— not, however, an original feature. In this bay on the south side is a small chantry chapel of stone with a central door and two tiers of pierced trefoiled openings on either side; it retains part of its cresting and cornice, the latter showing remains of a painted inscription, '. . . eri Margarete que consortis . . . .' The chapel has a piscina with two cruet brackets, and retains its flat wooden ceiling, on which are painted a red and a white rose, and a cornice with red roses and white carnations. This chapel has been identified with that built by Sir William Berkeley about 1486 in memory of his father Sir Maurice Berkeley. In the west bay of the aisle has been another chapel, now reduced to a mere fragment, and this end of the aisle is used for the storage of architectural fragments, gravestones, &c., from various parts of the church. The most interesting of these is a square Purbeck marble font of late 13th-century date, with three subjects on each face of the bowl. On one face are three Old Testament subjects—Noah and the Ark, Samson and the lion, and Moses striking the rock; on the opposite face to this are the coronation of the Virgin, her burial, and the gift of tongues at Pentecost. Of the two other faces, one has three single figures in quatrefoils, probably Christ between the Virgin and St. John, and the other has Christ's baptism, resurrection, and ascension.
The south aisle is in general arrangement like the north. The east half-bay is screened off by the chantry chapel of John Draper II, dated 1529, but contains its original piscina like that in the north aisle, and two image brackets under the east window. John Draper's screen is a beautiful piece of late Gothic stonework with a frieze of Italian ornament, which shows also on the transoms of the windows and the corbels below the niches. The monogram I D occurs three times on the screen, and over the central doorway on a shield with a cruciform church having a spire on its central tower. In the second and third bays of the aisle are small arched recesses in the south wall, and image brackets or perhaps corbels for lights on the piers on the north. The fourth bay has on the north the chantry chapel of Robert Harys, 1525, with an inscription on a scroll on the cornice:—
The chapel has a stone front with a central doorway, over which is a large canopied niche, and there are similar niches at either end of the front, the space between being filled with open tracery. On the panelled base is the rebus of Robert Harys, R with a hare and a ribbon S, and a different form occurs on the spandrels of the doorway. The oak ceiling of the chapel is in part old.
From the south side of this bay a door opens to a vaulted chapel, dating from c. 1260. Wedged in between the aisle and the apse of the south transept, it is of very irregular shape, made even more so by the encroachment on it of the aisle at its 15th-century rebuilding. The ribbed vault, however, was not taken down, and remains half buried in the new wall at the north, and towards the transept on the west, to which it must have been open before the projected vaulting of that part of the church, as the vaulting shaft exactly blocks it on the west. The chapel is lighted by an east window of two lights and a south window of three, both with modern tracery, but original internal jamb shafts and arches; below the east window is the base of a fine 14thcentury reredos, and in the north wall a very small opening, 6 ft. from the ground, looking into the aisle, but commanding a view of nothing but the Harys chapel; it is part of the late 15th-century work. On the south side is a stone bench with three canopied seats, a good deal restored, having Purbeck marble shafts in the jambs, and in the floor are considerable remains of a 14th-century tile pavement, many tiles, it is said, having been collected from other parts of the church.
The north transept preserves some of the best Romanesque detail in the church. The ground stage of the walls, both within and without, was ornamented with arcading, and the external angles had groups of engaged shafts rising from a large plinth, and running up, it must be concluded, to the eaves. At the northeast angle is a round stair-turret, enriched with arcades and a network of rolls above them; it was doubtless once finished with a conical stone cap, but its present top belongs to the 15th-century repair which replaced the 11th-century work in the upper parts of the whole transept. The original eastern apse of the transept was destroyed in the 13th century, but the western arches of the chapels which it contained on the ground and triforium levels remain, and its plan is preserved in the crypt beneath. The evidence goes to show that its walls were of unusual thickness, far exceeding those of the apse in the south transept; this may be in part accounted for by the conspicuous position of the north transept, but in any case the treatment is remarkable. The tiers of arcading on the stair turret seem to have been continued round the apse, but the curved piece of wall marking the external start of the apse, which is thus ornamented, is set out on too small a curve to form part of the original work. As already noted, the evidence of an upper floor at triforium level over the whole area of the transept is very apparent. It was carried on a masonry vault, a respond of which remains on the west wall, and there are shafts of equal height on the crossing piers. When the vault was destroyed its lines were preserved on the west wall of the transept by wall arches of wrought stone masking the traces of its junction with the wall, and the arches opening to the upper floor from the nave triforium, and from the upper chapel of the apse, were then blocked, and still remain so. The shafts on the north-west crossing pier give further evidence, being made up in plaster at the height where they were formerly interrupted by the front of the upper floor towards the crossing. The remodelling of the east wall of the transept about 1260 removed the last traces of the early vault on this side, and two rectangular vaulted chapels took the place of the apse; the southern of these opens to the transept by a beautiful cusped arch, now partly hidden by a wooden gallery which fills the transept, and both have richly moulded vault ribs, which are broken and stepped in a remarkable manner in order to fit them to the confined spaces which they have to span. This is particularly so in the heads of the east windows, which are treated as small vaults. The upper chapel of the apse was by the 13th-century alterations put to a most interesting use, that of the chamber of the master of the works. The east face of the blocking in the arch formerly opening to the upper floor of the transept is set out in six rows of 9 in. squares, sixteen squares to each row; the angles of the squares have been marked, probably by metal points or studs fastened to wooden plugs, but the plugs have been pulled out, leaving only rough holes to show the arrangement. The wall face is plastered, and on the plaster is scratched the setting out of a 13th-century window.
The transept is lighted by a large 15th-century window on the north, which breaks into the original clearstory passage; there are no signs of this passage on the east side of the transept, but on the west it is preserved, though evidently not in its original condition. It is lighted by small round-headed windows set in blocked round-headed arches 5 ft. 8 in. wide, and the windows with the blocking are of 12th-century masonry, though obviously not so early as the main walls. The passage continues to the north-west angle and turns westward to join the main clearstory, showing that the Romanesque work was completed at least to this point. Beyond this the clearstory is of the 13th century.
The crypts under the outer bay of each transept remain in a very perfect state, with plastered barrel vaults, divided into two bays by broad transverse arches springing from shallow pilasters, and having eastern apses following the plan of the apsidal chapels above. The turret stairs continue downwards to the crypts, opening into them close to the springing of the apses.
The south transept retains its apse structurally perfect, though much restored and having undergone certain alterations in the 13th century. The internal arcade below the windows is practically modern, as are the vaulting shafts and those of the arcade at the window level, but their capitals are original, as is the arched head of the east window of the apse. A moulded and pointed rear arch has, however, been added to this window c. 1260, and the south bay has been entirely transformed, a three-light window being inserted, its rear arch treated as an oblong vaulted compartment with angle shafts.
At the south-east is a turret stair, as in the north transept, but much more plainly treated, and octagonal in plan; it now opens to the south side of the apse, but originally had a doorway in the east bay of the south wall. It continues down to the crypt, like the north transept stair. The south wall of the transept, against which the conventual buildings abutted, retains considerable traces of the original arrangement, as the mark of the respond between the two spans of the vault which carried the upper story, and two tiers of wall arcades. Near the south-west corner was a doorway leading through to the buildings south of the transept, doubtless into the passage from the cloister to the cemetery. The upper stage of the apse remains in good condition, its western arch not being blocked, but the higher parts of the transept walls have been rebuilt, probably at the time when it was decided to vault the transept in stone, in continuation of the work of the eastern arm, in the early years of the 16th century. The vaulting shafts of this work still exist, but the south bay of the vault was taken down about a hundred years ago.
The crossing piers belong to the 11th-century work, but the arches seem to be of advanced 12thcentury detail, as if the original tower had been rebuilt from above their capitals. The east wall is carried up as a gable, and has in it two late 12thcentury windows, but the other three walls do not rise above plate level, and the nave roof runs on up to the east wall, the two bays of it which cover the crossing being, however, modern imitations of the old work in the nave.
The nave is of eight bays, with north and south aisles, the western bay of the main span being occupied by a 15th-century west tower; the western bays of the aisles, flanking the tower, are cut off to serve as vestries. The nave arcades with the triforium over are, generally speaking, of the same early Romanesque character as the transepts, and the nave seems to have ended westward with a plain gabled front not flanked by towers over the ends of the aisles. The aisle walls, which are very massive, are also of early date, though refaced in the 13th century, but the clearstory is entirely of 13th-century date, and was prepared for a stone vault which seems never to have been built. The refacing of the north aisle and the building of the north porch evidently formed part of the same scheme to give uniformity to the external elevation of the nave. The present nave roof, above the modern plaster vaulting, dates from c. 1330, and marks the definite abandonment of the idea of a stone vault, as it was obviously meant to be seen, being moulded and carved and retaining traces of painting. The two western bays, however, though of the same character, are of plainer detail and have never been painted, and may date from the time when the west tower was built.
The nave arcades have round-headed arches of two orders, the outer with a single roll and the inner with two soffit rolls, with pairs of half-round shafts in the jambs and a label of zigzag ornament, and between each pair of bays is a half-round shaft towards the main span running up to the clearstory, and adapted in the 13th century to take the springing of the intended vault. The spandrels over the arches are ornamented with a hatched pattern, and at the base of the triforium runs a string of zigzag, which is perfect for five bays in the south arcade, but only in the third bay of the north arcade. Elsewhere it is plain or has been pieced with later stonework. The triforium has in each bay two round arches under a single arch, the tympanum over the inclosed arches being plain except in the east bays of both arcades, where it is worked with a scaled pattern. This doubtless represents the treatment in the now destroyed eastern arm, and is additional evidence of the pause in the work at this point already noted. The capitals of the main arcades and the triforium are for the most part of a simple scalloped type, but some have interlaced ornament or volutes at the angles and several have been recut in later times, as in the third bay on the north. The shafts of the triforium are in some cases carved with spiral or trellis pattern. In the aisles the original vaulting shafts remain in many places, but others have been altered in the 13th century, and the capitals and vaults are entirely of the later date. The progress of this remodelling may be seen in the north aisle, where in the first four bays from the east the window tracery is of the same date as its 13th-century jambs, but in the next two it is clearly a later insertion and of more elaborate design. A break therefore occurred at this point in the 13th-century work, and there is a similar change of detail in the fourth bay of the clearstory on the north side, while in the south clearstory the change occurs in the second bay, all westward of this being of the later character.
The south aisle is lighted in the two eastern bays by modern three-light windows, and in the next three bays by two-light windows of the 13th century. Beneath these windows runs a much restored Romanesque wall arcade with a string over it, and in the east bay is the eastern procession door to the now destroyed cloister, of Purbeck marble and dating from the end of the 12th century. The door in the seventh bay is modern, the old procession door being in the sixth bay and now blocked. In the 15th century a small chamber was built in the angle between the north transept and the north aisle, and the blocked four-centred doorways which opened to it are yet visible.
Above the 13th-century windows in both aisles are small round-headed lights with a heavy roll running round them, lighting the triforium. Their external masonry is of the 13th century, but the windows clearly belong to the original work. There are two of them in the east bay of the north aisle and one in each of the rest. Between each bay of the triforium was a round-headed arch, of which only the responds are now left. These must have been intended to buttress the main arcade walls, as there is no evidence that the triforium was meant to be covered with a stone vault.
The eastern arch of the north triforium, once opening to the first story of the transept, is blocked, and on its blocking is early 13th-century painted ornament. It is probable that this bay contained an altar.
The north porch is of unusual size and a fine piece of 13th-century work. Its vault is, however, a modern insertion on the lines of what must have been there originally. The upper story is an addition, and the buttresses have been heightened when it was built. It is reached by a stair at the southwest, and is lighted by five plain two-light windows. The walls of the porch are arcaded, and near the outer arch on the west side is a cinquefoiled recess of contemporary character which is said to have been enlarged during restoration.
The door of entrance to the nave is a fine piece of work, with two cinquefoiled arches contained under a wide outer arch, having in the spandrel between them a canopied niche, now empty. The work belongs to the middle of the 13th century, the arch mouldings dying on to upright springing stones which follow the rounded plan of the capitals.
The west tower is of three stages with a northeast stair turret, and finished with a low pointed roof rising from a pierced parapet with crocketed pinnacles. There are pairs of belfry windows, and the west window of the lowest stage is of six lights with transoms at two levels. Below it is a doorway with the arms of Montagu in the south spandrel and of de Fortibus in the north, and over the window is a canopied niche with a figure of Christ.
In addition to the monuments already noted there are a good many floor slabs with incised inscriptions, originally filled in with black composition. The oldest of these are in Gothic capitals, and there is such a strong resemblance between a number of them in treatment and in the peculiar form of the inscription as to make it probable that they belong to one date, although commemorating persons of different periods. Several of them belong to priors of the house, others to lay persons. The best preserved inscriptions run thus:—
The plate consists of a silver chalice of 1618 given that year by Thomas Jarman, citizen and dyer of London; another, remade in 1812, given by John Hellier and Elizabeth his wife in 1627; a paten of 1628 given that year by William Colgill and Margaret his wife; another (a secular salver) of 1744 given that year by William Blake; another (also a secular salver) of 1752, given in 1832 by John Spicer, Mayor of Christchurch; another (also a secular salver) of 1812; and a flagon of 1813 given in that year by the Right Hon. George Rose, M.P.
There are two early books of registers, the first of which is of paper, and has baptisms from 1584 to 1632, marriages 1578 to 1609 and burials 1641–2. The second book is of vellum, and has baptisms 1635 to 1643, marriages 1634 to 1643, and burials 1634 to 1640. The first book of the regular series of registers has baptisms and burials from 1682 to 1804 and marriages 1682 to 1762. The next five books have marriages from 1754 to 1767, 1767 to 1779, 1779 to 1803, 1797 to 1812 and 1803 to 1812; the seventh baptisms and burials from 1805 to 1812.
The church of ST. MICHAEL, HINTON ADMIRAL, consisting of chancel and north vestry, nave, south porch and western tower, is modern with the exception of the late 18th-century tower. The whole building is of red brick with stone dressings. The tower has been 'Gothicized' by the insertion of a door and of windows. It contains five bells.
The plate consists of a silver-gilt chalice (a secular standing cup and cover) of 1595 presented by an ancestor of Sir George A. E. Tapps-Gervis-Meyrick of Hinton Admiral; two silver patens of 1747 and a glass flagon with gilt mounts.
The church of ST. LUKE, BURTON, consisting of a chancel, nave, north organ chamber, south transept and south porch, was built in 1874 of red brick with Bath stone dressings. The west gable contains one bell. In the churchyard is a rough octagonal bowl of uncertain date. Opposite the church is a good yew tree.
MUDEFORD CHAPEL in Highcliff (no dedication) consists of a half-octagonal apsidal chancel, a nave and an open timber porch, and was built in 1871 of brick banded with stone. A bell-gable contains one bell. A larger bell is hung on a frame in the churchyard.
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN, Bransgore, is of brick with stone dressings, and consists of an apsidal chancel with small north and south recesses forming vestries, and an organ chamber, nave and western tower, all modern. The early 16thcentury font, which is said to have come from Christchurch, is octagonal, with a monogram J D, perhaps for 'John Draper,' Prior of Christchurch. The stem is patched, the base is modern and the whole has been much scraped. The tower contains one bell.
Christchurch, which belonged to the canons of the Holy Trinity before the Conquest, was comprised in the grant of the manor made by Henry I to Richard de Redvers; from him the priory received a regrant of the church, (fn. 2) and held it until 1539. Part of the nave was probably the parish church, (fn. 3) and at first was served by the canons, but later a vicar was appointed. (fn. 4) In 1540, at the supplication of the townspeople, the king granted the whole church, thenceforth to be used as the parish church, to the churchwardens and inhabitants of the town, (fn. 5) which grant of incorporation was confirmed by James I in 1612. (fn. 6) In 1541 the king granted the advowson to the Dean and Chapter of Winchester, (fn. 7) by whom presentations were made (fn. 8) until 1909, when the Bishop of Winchester presented.
The ecclesiastical parish of Highcliff was formed in 1843 out of those of Christchurch and Milton, (fn. 9) the church being begun in the same year. The living is a vicarage in the gift of Brig.-Gen. Hon. E. J. Montagu-Stuart-Wortley, C.B., D.S.O. There had been a chapel of ease there since 1834. (fn. 10)
The ecclesiastical parish of Hinton (fn. 11) was formed in 1867 from the civil parish of Christchurch, (fn. 12) the church of St. Michael and All Angels being consecrated nine years later. There was a chapel here in the reign of Stephen belonging to the canons of Christchurch, who still held it in 1419. (fn. 13) Very soon after, however, it was superseded by a chapel of ease founded by Sir John Sewer and others, (fn. 14) the invocation of which was to St. Anne. (fn. 15) Sir John was undoubtedly the John Siward who married the daughter and heiress of Richard Horn, who died possessed of Hinton Manor (q.v.) in 1394. (fn. 16) The reason for its foundation was the danger caused by the floods in winter to the people of Hinton, where there were 100 communicants, in walking the three or four miles to their parish church. It was endowed with land at Forston, Dorset, worth £2 15s. in the reign of Henry VIII, (fn. 17) and £3 3s. 4d. in that of Edward VI (fn. 18); this sum the priest received for his stipend. It was a donative curacy in the gift of the lord of the manor of Hinton. (fn. 19) The living is now a vicarage, the lord of the manor still retaining the patronage.
The ecclesiastical parish of Bransgore (fn. 20) was formed in 1875 from those of Christchurch and Sopley. (fn. 21) The church was erected in 1822 as a chapel of ease, the living being a perpetual curacy in the gift of the vicar of Christchurch. (fn. 22) It is now a vicarage, the patrons being trustees.
The ecclesiastical parish of Burton (fn. 23) was formed in 1877 from the civil parish of Christchurch. (fn. 24) The living is a vicarage in the gift of the Bishop of Winchester. There had been a chapel of ease here since 1836.
At the time of the Domesday Survey all the tithes of Christchurch belonged to the priory. (fn. 25) After the Dissolution the tithes in Christchurch and Hinton were leased for twenty-one years to Thomas Wriothesley, afterwards lord chancellor, and William Avery, (fn. 26) and in the following year the rectory was granted to the Dean and Chapter of Winchester. In the reign of Edward VI the vicar of Christchurch received the stipend of £26 from the dean, out of which he had to provide two priests, (fn. 27) one for the parish church and the other for Holdenhurst chapel. The rectory continued to belong to the dean and chapter until early in the 19th century, when it was sold to the first Earl of Malmesbury. (fn. 28) His descendant, the present earl, is now impropriator of the tithes, which, together with those of Holdenhurst, have been commuted for a fixed rent-charge.
The free chapel of St. Mary Magdalene, East Parley, was founded before the year 1340. (fn. 29) The advowson always belonged to the lords of the manor (fn. 30) (q.v.). The last record of it that has been found is in 1820, when Charles Prideaux-Brune owned the manor and the advowson of the church. (fn. 31) The tithes were in 1561 leased by the Crown to Ludovic Williams for twenty-one years at the rent of 40s., and ten years later the reversion and rent were granted to Henry Lord Scroope to be held by him at a feefarm rent of the same amount. (fn. 32)
In about 1270 there was a chapel at Winkton, (fn. 33) which belonged to the priory, having been granted to it by John de Campeny about thirty years before. (fn. 34) It still existed in 1517, when an annual sum of 13½d. was paid towards its support by the lord of the manor of Fernhills Court in Winkton. (fn. 35)
Upon St. Catherine's Hill there was anciently a chapel belonging to the priory; it still existed in 1331. (fn. 38)
John Draper, the last prior, had a chapel at Somerford Grange, which was still in existence in 1838 (fn. 39); no traces of it now survive.
In an extent of Christchurch Borough in 1300 'the guardian of the chapel of the Blessed Mary' is mentioned, (fn. 40) but nothing has been found to show what chapel that was.
Numerous chantries were founded in the priory church. William Berkeley, son of Sir Maurice Berkeley, kt., founded one in 1482. (fn. 41) Another was founded by the unfortunate Countess of Salisbury. (fn. 42) In 1319 William of Alreham obtained licence to endow a chaplain to celebrate daily in the priory church, (fn. 43) and a few years later similar licences were granted to Henry Bosse, John of Dibden, William Quintin and William Segar, (fn. 44) and to John Tirenache and William Smedemor. (fn. 45)
In 1447 Henry Gobitz and seven others obtained licence to erect a chantry in the chapel of St. Anne, Hinton, with a chaplain to pray for their souls, and to endow it with land to the value of 10 marks. (fn. 46)
In 1672 licences were granted for a Presbyterian minister to preach in the houses of John Hildesley and William Marshall at Christchurch. (fn. 47)
The Nonconformists have had a chapel in Christchurch since 1660. The present Congregational chapel is in Millhams Street, while in Bargates is a Baptist chapel, and at Purewell a Roman Catholic church and a Wesleyan chapel. At Bransgore are two Wesleyan chapels and a Gospel hall for Plymouth Brethren. At East Parley there is a school chapel of St. Barnabas and a Baptist chapel, and at Waterditch a Congregational chapel.
The Hospital of St. Mary Magdalene, formerly a hospital for lepers, is endowed with dwelling-houses and land and £1,870 11s. 5d. consols, with the official trustees, arising from sales of land and accumulations of income, producing £165 a year or thereabouts. In 1905 the almspeople received £144, and £5 was distributed in money to forty other persons.
In 1667 Thomas Brown of Hinton Admiral by will devised certain lands lying at Moors and in Christchurch East, the rents and profits to be applied in the distribution of clothing and bread among the poor of Christchurch, also to the poor of Ringwood, Lymington, Minstead, Sopley, Milton, Holdenhurst and Lyndhurst in bread and clothes, subject to the payment of 10s. each to the ministers of the several parishes for preaching a sermon on 1 January in every year on the subject mentioned in the testator's will.
The charity was in 1801 the subject of proceedings in the Court of Chancery, and a scheme for its regulation was embodied in a deed poll bearing date 11 May 1802. The real estate has been sold, and the present endowment consists of £2,788 1s. 11d. consols, with the official trustees, producing £69 14s. a year, which is applied in pursuance of the trusts for the benefit of the respective parishes. In 1904 £19 was distributed among the poor of Christchurch in clothes and bread.
In 1714 John Clingan by will, proved in the P.C.C., gave to Samuel Hookey his residuary estate for the benefit of the poor of the parish, or for their use, in such charitable uses as he should think fit.
In 1730 a suit was instituted between the attorneygeneral, at the relation of Robert Legard, against the said Samuel Hookey, and a scheme established in 1736, whereby the trust, as varied by an order of the Charity Commissioners on 2 May 1893, is now regulated.
The trust property consists of a house in the High Street let at £85 a year, 11 a. 3 r. 39 p. at Roeshot and Somerford, 29 a. 3 r. 28 p. at Iford, 1 a. or. 30 p. at Pokesdown, let at a gross rental of £87 10s. a year, and £8,239 5s. 4d. consols, with the official trustees (producing yearly £205 19s. 8d.), who also hold £1,361 19s. 2d. consols on an investment account to replace the amount expended in rebuilding the house in the High Street. The net income is paid to masters in premiums on apprenticeships.
In 1619 Robert White by will, proved in the P.C.C., gave £100 to be laid out in land, the rents to be employed for the relief of the most poor, aged and impotent persons in the parish. The endowment consists of an annuity of £8, charged by deed of 30 March 1658, on a farm in Hinton Admiral, now the property of Sir George A. E. Tapps-GervisMeyrick, bart., applied for the benefit of aged poor, together with Lyne's charity, next mentioned.
Charity of Thomas Lyne, founded by will 1621 (see under parish of Ringwood). The annual sum of £2 is paid by Sir Richard Glyn, bart., and applied together with the annuity of £8 from White's charity for the benefit of the poor.
In 1653 Ellis Coffin by his will devised certain real estate in Christchurch, a moiety of the rents and profits for the use of the poor of the tithing of Bure, and the other moiety for the poor of the town of Christchurch. The trust estate has been sold and proceeds invested in £298 1s. 6d. consols, producing £7 9s. a year, which is applied in the distribution of shillings.
In 1677 Edward Elliott by will, proved at Winchester, devised his lands called Colliers, lying without Bargates in Portfield, and a house and half an acre of land near thereto, the rents and profits to be applied in bread at church on the first Sunday in every month, subject to the payment of 10s. for bread for the poor of Sopley.
The property known as Colliers was sold and the proceeds invested in £503 13s. 3d. consols, with the official trustees, who also hold £98 15s. 3d. local loans 3 per cent. stock, arising from investment of surplus income. The remaining property consists of 2 a. 2 r. of land in Portfield Road, producing £4 10s. a year. The income amounts to £20 a year, together with an annuity of 5s., issuing out of an allotment in Burton Meadow, known as Causeway Acre.
In 1778 Gregory Olive by will left £166 13s. 4d. stock, now consols, with the official trustees; the dividends, amounting to £4 3s. 4d., are distributable yearly among four poor widows equally on Christmas Day.
The Organist Fund.—In 1785 Gustavus Brander by will, proved in the P.C.C., left £500 for the building of an organ in the parish church, provided that the parish raised a fund for the organist's salary. In 1814 a sum of £510 17s. 11d. consols appears to have been raised for that purpose, and is now held by the official trustees. The dividends, amounting to £12 15s. 4d., are paid to the organist.
Gustavus Brander also bequeathed £200, the interest to be applied in payment of 10s. to the clerk, 5s. to the sexton, £2 2s. to the vicar for a sermon annually on the third Sunday in August as a memorial of his signal preservation in 1768 under the circumstances detailed in his will, 10s. as a nestegg for keeping his monument in repair, and the remainder in shillings to the poor attending the divine service on that day.
In 1818 Henry Oake by his will, executed in camp before the fortress of Hattras, India, bequeathed a sum for the use of the poor of his native town of Christchurch. The legacy, less duty, is represented by £480 3s. 7d. consols, with the official trustees. The income of £12 a year is applied in the distribution of money, petticoats and skirts, subject to repair of monument.
In 1836 Sally Williams by will, proved in the P.C.C. 6 May, bequeathed £107 10s. 2d. consols, now held by the official trustees; the dividends, amounting to £2 13s. 8d., are distributable amongst five poor widows and five poor maiden women.
The official trustees also hold a sum of £26 9s. 7d. consols under the title of Parley Common, purchased in January 1908 with £22 6s. 4d. representing a sum of £10 (and accumulations) paid to the churchwardens for compensation for common rights in respect of Parley Church and parsonage.
In 1903 Risdon Darracott Sharp by his will, proved at London 14 January, bequeathed £1,000, the income to be applied by the deacons to such purposes as they should in their sole discretion think proper.
The principal sum has been placed out on mortgage securities, £800 at 4½ per cent. and £200 (with an additional £200) at 5 per cent., the interest of which is applied in part to the church account, in part to the fabric account, day school and missionary societies.
In 1883 William Ross by will and codicil, proved 10 October, bequeathed a legacy, represented by £294 9s. 6d. consols, the dividends to be applied at Christmas-time amongst poor of sixty-one years of age and upwards.
In 1878 General Charles Stuart by deed gave £250 consols, the dividends to be applied in repair of the schoolmaster's house at Newtown, or failing that object in promoting the education of poor children.
In 1876 Mortimer Ricardo by will, proved at London 23 May, bequeathed £1,000, the interest to be applied in the maintenance of the chapel erected by the testator, and for the performance of divine service therein.