11. St Andrew's Tichborne
THE PARISH CHURCH OF ST ANDREW, TICHBORNE, NR ALRESFORD
Ideally situated on a hill overlooking the Itchen valley near Alresford a church has existed on this site for 900 years. Today the chancel with its small double splayed windows dates from the mid-eleventh century but the north and south aisles were added towards the end of the twelfth century. The original Saxon east window was replaced in 1330 whilst the west tower was rebuilt in brick in 1703.
Opening the door of the church one is overwhelmed by a sense of history. Wonderful carved Jacobean box pews fill the nave whilst a fifteenth century doorway near the chancel reveals a narrow stairway which once led to a rood loft. The altar is Elizabethan whilst the large circular stone font to the left of the door is Norman. On the west wall hangs a Royal Coat of Arms dated 1735.
THE TICHBORNE FAMILY CHAPEL. MEMORIAL TO SIR BENJAMIN TICHBORNE, HIS WIFE AMPHILLIS, AND THEIR SEVEN CHILDREN. DATES FROM 1621
The whole of the north aisle is dominated by the Tichborne Family chapel crammed full with monuments. The most impressive, that of Sir Benjamin Tichborne and his wife Amphillis and their seven children, dates from 1621. Sir Benjamin had been High Sheriff of Hampshire and a personal friend of King James I. Because of this friendship and his public services the King allowed the Tichborne family to use the north aisle as a Catholic chapel.
Another more poignant memorial in the chapel, dated 1619, is to Richard, infant son of Sir Richard Tichborne "after he had lived one yeare six monethes and too daies". Apparently a gypsy woman, refused bread at the house, laid a curse on the child foretelling his death by drowning on 5 March 1619. On that day the servants were ordered to take the child up onto Gander Down safely away from the river Itchen. Once there, the story goes, the child fell out of his baby carriage and drowned in a cart rut full of water. The monument depicts the young child in bright red robes lying with his head on a pillow.
MEMORIAL TO RICHARD, INFANT SON OF SIR RICHARD TICHBORNE
Before leaving buy a copy of the excellent History of Tichborne by E.Roberts and E.Crockford on sale at the bookstall and read all about the famous Tichborne claimant of Victorian times. After a trial lasting 10 months a man from Australia who claimed to be the missing heir, Roger Tichborne, was found guilty of misrepresentation and sentenced to fourteen years penal servitude, despite the fact that his mother claimed to recognise her son, supposedly lost at sea off South America in 1854. Equally fascinating is the history of the Tichborne Dole when bread is distributed to poor parishioners at Tichborne House on Lady Day.
All in all a fine old church, a veritable time-warp, which has thankfully escaped the hands of restorers. The only twentieth century things in the church appear to be a modern organ and some beautifully embroided kneelers in the box pews. Long may it continue.
written by John Symonds
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page last updated 1 SEPTEMBER 1997