64. St Mary and All Saints, Droxford
This fine Meon Valley church with its striking tower and low sloping north aisle roof sits proudly in the middle of a large churchyard backing onto water meadows. It has developed and changed much over the centuries. The nave with its massive square Norman pillars dates from 1150, the north aisle and chapel were added in the 13th century, the tower is dated 1599, whilst the plain white ceiling was an 18th century addition. The pews are Victorian.
Entrance is via the lovely Norman doorway in the south porch after stepping over two eighteenth century tombstones set into the floor. High dormer windows in the roof let in plenty of light which is enhanced by the white plastered walls and ceiling divided only by two large oak beams.
The 15th century east window contains modern glass showing a Nativity scene. It was placed there in memory of Major Hulbert, his wife Kathleen and their two sons, James killed at Sidi Rezegh in 1941 and John who died in 1980 and 'loved the Church, Village and County'. High in the chancel walls are four square windows with rose patterned glass. The impressive altar rails are Jacobean whilst on the pillars on the south side are carved two gargoyles.
Another attractive stained glass window can be seen in the side chapel at the end of the south aisle. Dated 1938 it was placed there in memory of a former Rector, Stephen Bridge who died in 1895. The central light shows the Virgin Mary and Child whilst the four adjoining panels illustrate scenes from the lives of four saints - Francis, Wilfrid, Stephen and George.
Lying on the floor below is a six foot long medieval stone effigy of an unknown lady of rank. It was discovered in 1820 buried in the nearby meadow, a possible victim of Cromwellian zeal. On the wall above is the first memorial I've ever seen to a centenarian, a certain Lt. Col. John Bower, late Madras Army who died in 1910 aged 101.
In the north aisle is an eye-catching new window, a real blaze of colour, commemorating Alice Wigg who died in 1963. Designed by Charles Edwards of Fulham, its theme is the Holy Spirit. The design is complex involving three doves, tongues of fire descending to outstretched hands, a pair of hands holding a compass and scales (symbols of Wisdom and Almighty Power), a leaping carp (symbolising Baptism), green plants representing the earth and at the top a blue Heaven and stairs. Also note on the adjacent north aisle pillar the Latin inscription to Francis Morley who died on March 15, 1689/90.
A more conventional window in the west wall depicts St Nicholas and St Christopher. It was placed there as a memorial to Captain Lancelot Turton R.N. who died in Aden in 1940 and who is also listed on the War Memorial.
In the south aisle floor is the tomb of Dr Nicholas Preston who was Rector during the Civil War period. Ejected from the living by Oliver Cromwell he was restored to the living ten years later in 1660. Another Rector William Hawkins married Anne the daughter of the famous angler Isaac Walton.
On the exterior of the church, note the four medieval sun dials - or Mass clocks - carved on the south porch and on the south wall. After strolling around the churchyard there is a pleasant walk to be had across the river Meon and the water meadows to the neighbouring parish of Soberton.
page last updated 22 DECEMBER 2002