6. St Michael and All Angels, Cheriton
Cheriton lies along the A272 road between Petersfield and Winchester at the turn-off for Alresford. Here in March 1644 the Parliamentary army won a decisive battle of the Civil War over the Royalist army. The church, of Early English style, is not easy to find, despite the fact that it is built on a small hill once a pre-historic burial mound. Much restoration had to be done after a disastrous fire in 1744 and most of the present day furnishings date from a later Victorian restoration of 1879.
The 13th Century porch on the south side is impressive with two mysterious curved-sided triangles either side of the doorway. Above the triangles are two heads, one depicting a bearded man wearing a cap, the other a woman with a veil or hood. On the right hand side there is a Norman scratch or mass sun dial once used to indicate the times of services.
The wide nave with its timbered roof and rounded pillars has arcades of three bays on each side dating from 1220. The large Perpendicular East window is quite striking. The stained glass given by the Rector, the Rev. Alexander Orr in 1881 in memory of his son, depicts the four Evangelists with their Symbols. Under the 17th century oak altar table are some rare medieval Flemish encaustic tiles. One carries the head of Our Lord and the other the head of the Virgin Mary. Only three other examples are known to exist.
Duty and Courage
Loyalty and Honour
But to me the most interesting features of the church are the four beautiful stained glass windows in the nave installed by Mrs Mary Egerton in memory of her four nephews killed in the First World War. A knight in armour, each bearing the face of one of the nephews, is shown in a central position. They represent the knightly virtues of Duty, Courage, Loyalty and Honour. Accompanying the figures are scenes from the Bible, the Saints and the legend of King Arthur. John Egerton represents Loyalty with panels showing Christ on the Cross and Sir Bedivere conveying the dead King Arthur by boat across a river. Geoffrey Pratt represents Honour. Two Arthurian scenes show Sir Gareth blowing his horn before a castle and jousting with the Red Knight on horseback. Basil Francis Christy represents Duty. One window depicts St Francis preaching to the birds, the other Sir Galahad and Percival at the Holy Grail. Finally Stephen Christy represents Courage with scenes showing St Stephen appearing before the Council and then entering Heaven and Sir Galahad wresting the sword of Arthur from the stone. Also on each window are the badges of their schools and regiments as well as their initials. Corbels on the exterior walls carry the names and dates of the battles where the four nephews were killed - Doullens 1916, Bailleul 1915, Les Boeufs 1916 and Ypres 1916. Altogether a most moving and poignant reminder of the suffering caused by the heavy casualties of the Great War.
The donor herself, Mrs Egerton, who died in 1937, is commemorated in another fine window designed by Martin Traves. She is depicted in the right hand light with a delightful Madonna and Child on the left. Lovely views of the church and the village are shown in the background. Underneath a fine tribute to Mrs Egerton is inscribed... "She spent herself doing good and helping others."
There are a number of other memorials to former rectors the earliest dating from 1720, and a war memorial to the dead of the South African War 18991902, on the north wall close to two ancient incised stones under which stands a 17th century oak chest.
At the West end a door below a high 13th century arch leads to the Tower which contains a fine peal of six bells. These mostly date from 1746 though the treble was added to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887.
Country Churches written by John Symonds
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page last updated 26 FEBRUARY 1997