Welcome to the June 2005 On-Line Edition of
Waterlooville's Parish Magazine
St George's News

Country Churches

89. St Mary's Amport

This attractive village, full of thatched cottages and redolent of Victorian times, nevertheless is only a few miles south of the busy A303 and the town of Andover. The fourteenth century church, built between 1320-30 is surrounded by green lawns and lies close to Amport House former home of the Marquess of Winchester and the Paulet family.

In the south transept at the side of the belfry tower is a fine sculptured memorial to Augustus John Henry Beaumont Paulet the 15th Marquess of Winchester. He was a major in the Coldstream Guards and was killed at the Battle of Magersfontein on 11 December 1899. His body was later brought back to England and an impressive funeral service of great pomp and ceremony was held in the church. A copy of the Service Sheet rests beside the memorial. Nearby, a 14th century window contains several medallions of medieval Flemish glass.

At the west end of the church, high up in the wall is a plain glass Rose Window and underneath boards inscribed with the Lord's Prayer and the Creed. In between is a modern memorial to the Menzies family. It reads "To the Glorious Memory of Clan Menzies who gave all they had to the British Empire. 1935. William Lowe Murray Menzies - Major. 1915. Clive William Murray Menzies - Lieutenant. 1917. Duncan Innes Murray Menzies - Captain M.C."

All served in the Black Watch and the latter two are also named on the beautifully carved War Memorial on the south wall.

The red carpeted nave floor stretches down to the plain chancel arch. Nearly all the glass in the church is Victorian such as the east window showing scenes of the Nativity, Crucifixion and Resurrection. Around and under the altar are large tomb slabs of the late 17th and 18th century relating to the Powlett family. On the pulpit near the chancel arch is an unexpected Korean War memorial plaque in honour of David Michael Taylor of the Gloucestershire Regiment killed in action at Hill 23 on the Imjin River on 25 April 1951.

But the finest treasure of the church, found on the north wall of the chancel arch, is the framed St Johns Head. Only 18 inches high and 9½ inches wide it dates from the late 14th century and was made in Nottingham from Chellaston alabaster. In the centre is depicted the head of St John the Baptist on a round dish. Above, two angels are carrying his soul to Heaven. Alongside four figures are shown. On the left St Margaret with St Peter underneath carrying a book and the keys of Heaven. On the right are St Katherine (with wheel and sword) and St William, Archbishop of York. Underneath is a Resurrection scene. This treasure was only discovered some years ago in a cottage at East Cholderton.

Before leaving, note the intricately carved font with its impressive wooden cover. The sturdy tower with its row of gargoyles around the top is also worth looking at - if you have binoculars.

John Symonds

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