58. St Andrew's Nether Wallop
The small village of Nether Wallop lies just west of Stockbridge and contains a Saxon church of the early 11th century built when Earl Godwin of Wessex was the owner of Nether Wallop. Hidden behind thatched cottages and set into a steep hillside it is not easy to find. The Normans widened the church on the south side in the 12th century and added a northern aisle as well as a tower. The present tower dates from an 18th century re-building.
The church is rightly famous for its medieval wall paintings. Entering by the north door one immediately sees high above the nave arch on the south side the striking figure of St George in armour plunging his lance into a writhing dragon at his feet. To his right is a tower from which appear the King and Queen of Silence watching in admiration. It teaches the defeat of Evil by the goodness of Christianity.
Above the chancel arch is a rarer painting of four flying angels. Uncovered only in 1971 it is the only known example of an Anglo-Saxon wall painting. Unfortunately the central feature of Christ in Majesty has all but disappeared. On the walls above the arcade is an interesting Morality painting representing the Sabbath Breakers based on the Fourth Commandment. A naked Christ dressed only in a loincloth and wearing a coronet is surrounded by the tools and implements used by local craftsmen. These include knives, chisels, axes, a horseshoe and a quern for grinding corn. Wherever they touch Christ's body drops of blood can be seen, thus teaching that by working on Sunday you injure Our Lord. A very unusual painting.
A fourth painting can be seen on the splayed side of a south aisle window. It is a fine portrayal of St Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, the patron saint of children. He is shown sitting and holding his pastoral staff. The only other painting dates from the eighteenth century. It is of a large bell and appropriately can be seen high on the arch near the belfry at the west end.
On the floor of the nave a unique brass can be seen. It commemorates Maria Gore Abbess of Amesbury who died in 1436, the only known portrait in brass of a Prioress found in an English church. In the north aisle is an attractive stained glass window depicting St Cuthbert 635-87 and St Margaret 1045-93, the latter in a glorious red colour. Further along the wall is a memorial to Sir Francis Gosling Lord Mayor of London 1766-8. Also note the fine altar frontal embroidered by the Sarum Group of Ecclesiastical Embroiderers depicting the Anglo-Saxon design of Christ in Majesty.
Outside in the churchyard is the unusual pyramid tomb of Francis Dower a local doctor who died in 1760. It lies close to the tower. 16 feet high and topped with carved flowers it makes a strange sight in a rural Hampshire churchyard. In his will he left money for educating the children of the parish but then went on to warn "it must not go too far lest it makes them saucy and the girls will all want to be chambermaids and in a few years we will be in want of cooks". An interesting example of class and social feelings 200 years ago.
page last updated 16 MAY 2002