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St Nicholas – West Worldham

St Nicolas Church West Worldham Hampshire

St Nicolas Church West Worldham Hampshire

 The Church is dedicated to St Nicholas and dates back to the end of the 12th Century or beginning of the 13th Century. At that time Richard de Annecy made the grant of West Worldham to Hamble Priory, a cell of the Benedictine Abbey of Tiron near Chartres in France. This grant being one of land and tithes, would have required the prior of Hamble to place a trusted Friar with one or two assistants to manage the property and to remit the income yearly to the head of the order.

In such circumstances it would have been usual for such a person to take up residence in the main house which was no doubt that the Norman dwelling on the site of which the lovely 16th century manor farm house now stands next to the church.

The friar appointed by Hamble Priory would have required a permanent chapel in which to carry out his devotions and this is the probable reason why the Church St Nicholas stands so close to the Manor farm.

The explanation is supported by the character of the church which stands in plan a simple parallelogram about 44 ft long and 18 ft wide, with two altars in addition to the main altar; the sites of these two smaller altars may be identified by the two piscine (stone basins) set in the north and south walls. There is too, a piscina for the main altar.

A screen would have divided the eastern half of the church, comprising the chancel, from the nave to which access was given by the early english north doorway(with pointed arch of one order only) for the convenience of the Monks living in the adjacent house and by the similar south doorway (also with pointed arch but of two orders) for the worshippers.

In 1414 after the dissolution of the alien priories the church, together with the other possessions of Hamble Priory, was purchased by William of Wykeham who added it to the endowment of Winchester College. It was at this time that the building became the village church and the porch surrounding the south doorway was added.

During the 19th Century, as is well illustrated by certain photographs displayed in the church, the building was neglected and fell into a ruinous state. However, by 1888, the church was restored by Winchester College in accordance with the terms of the original gift by Richard de Annecy to the prior of Hamble. A valued connection still exists between the parish and Winchester College.

St Nicolas Church inside

St Nicolas Church inside

The walls of the church, the north and south doorways and the two lancet windows on the north side are late 12th century. The three-light window with tracery in the east wall, restored in 1970 by Winchester college, is 15th century though originally there was a triplet of lancets with a round window over, evidence of which can be seen on the inside of the wall.

To the south of the alter is a two-light window, also of the 15 century with 19th century stained glass in memory of the Turvill family, and two single cinquefoiled lights. The corresponding windows on the north side are one of  cinquefoiled lights under which is a square stone locker and the two original pointed lancets already mentioned.

The west wall has a 15th century window now filled with three 19th century round-headed lights in which are inserted some pretty floral quarries of the 17th century.  These  include the mermaid from the coat of arms of Nicholas mason esquire, as well as details from other coats of arms and probably from other windows. Above this is the bell-cote, containing one bell.

The interior includes three memorial tablets to the Hammond family who farmed for several generations at West Worldham in the 17th and 18th centuries and three stones laid in the alter to Annand Jospeh White and their daughter Elizabeth. The inscriptions on these latter are noteworthy for their charm and simplicity.

The level of the churchyard has clearly been raised during the centuries to permit successive tiers of burial. Many of the older gravestones have disappeared, perhaps some have been covered over, and but for this it would doubtless be possible to discover more about those who lived and worked in the parish in the past. Nonetheless we remain indebitedto the late Major V Ferguson of East Worldham House who, in 1942, transcribed and had published the registers of East Worldham, West Worldham and Hartley Mauditt.

A number of gravestones stand to the memory of the Hammond and Turvill families. Amongst the more recent additions will be found those of William Brock and of his son George.

William came here from Devon in 1895 when he took on West Worldham farm and sometime later Manor farm. So after arriving, he was elected church warden, an appointment he held for more than sixty years, handing over in 1956 to George, who, in turn, was succeeded in 1982 by his son Thomas. Thus has continued for almost a century, spanned by just three generations, a tradition of service to the church, to the community and to the land.

Please check the calendar for the dates and times of the services held at St Nicholas.