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St George's News

Waterlooville's Parish Magazine


43. St Peter's, Northney, Hayling Island

St Peters Northney
St Peter's, Northney

This attractive little church is tucked away in the peaceful village of Northney well away from the busy traffic and the thousands of visitors flocking down to the Hayling beaches. After the Norman Conquest King William granted the church and tithes of Hayling Island to the monks of Jumieges Abbey in Normandy and they founded the chapel of St Peters in 1140, adding the chancel and north chapel a hundred years later.

One enters the church by the timbered north porch dating from the fifteenth century. A massive oak bole was sliced into twin halves to form an arch. The door itself with its carved consecration crosses on the east jamb is 200 years older.

Inside, the rounded pillars of the nave with their decorated carvings are believed to have been pre-fabricated in Jumieges. They stand on roughly shaped boulders similar to some excavated from a nearby Roman temple. The roof timbers are medieval and the cross beams have a red painted rose carving in the centre. High on the timbers above the chancel entrance are two small heraldic Queen's Beasts probably of 17th century origin. One, painted white, is the Yale, a royal beast of Henry VII with tusk, horns and goats tail. The other in red is the Griffin, half eagle and half lion.

Tub shaped font
The large tub shaped font

The large tub shaped font near the south aisle is probably twelfth century and has a fine Tudor oak cover in pyramid shape. Nearby stands a medieval oak chest. On the north wall hangs a small water colour of the West Front of Jumieges Abbey. There is no chancel screen but unusually three bell ropes hang down in front of the chancel entrance, the bells themselves dating from the fourteenth century.

The chancel is rather plain. The East window consists of three separate plain glass lancets. On the south side of the altar is a piscina with an aumbry opposite in the north wall. The rails separating the nave from the chancel possibly date from the time of Archbishop Laud in the seventeenth century. Several old pews remain with poppy head ends but the rest of the pews as well as the pulpit date from a restoration of 1886.

The only stained glass was installed in the West window in 1902 as a memorial to William Carpenter Turner. The banner of Hayling Island Royal Naval Old Comrades Association hangs underneath. There is also a memorial to John Bannister a surgeon of Havant who died in 1904 'the last of 4 generations to practise in Havant and Hayling'.

Outside notice the well designed fools cap steeple with its cedar shingles. Three large buttresses support the East wall. Incised on one is a sundial as well as a carving resembling the Star of David. A blocked up priests door can be seen on the South side. The South door and porch were added in the sixteenth century, whereas the West door with its numerous studded nail heads dates from a century earlier. Close by is a large yew tree probably planted when the church was founded.

Grave of Princess Elena
Grave of Princess Elena Rachkovsky-Nicolsky

Before leaving search out the gravestone of Elena Rachkovsky-Nicolsky, Princess Youvievsky a member of the Romanov Royal Family who fled from Russia after the Revolution and settled in North Hayling.

John Symonds

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