113. St George Damerham
Damerham lies a few miles west of Fordingbridge not far from the Wilts-Dorset border. The early Norman church (c.1190) stands just outside the village surrounded by a large churchyard. Unusually the tower is placed half way along the south side of the nave. Towards the end of the 12th century a north aisle was added and the chancel rebuilt.
Above the doorway of the south porch is a tympanum depicting St George slaying a Saracen at the siege of Antioch in 1098 during the First Crusade. On entering the church one is immediately aware of the light streaming in from the massive plain glass west window. It gives a wonderful light to the whole of the church.
In contrast the lovely stained glass east window illustrates the words of the Benedicite:
‘O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord
It was installed in 1925 in memory of Sir Eyre Coote, owner of the West Park estate. It portrays many country scenes as well as animals, birds and fishes ranging from whales to butterflies and even an Old English sheep-dog. The window is flanked on both sides by the words of the Ten Commandments.
The barrel roof dating from the 15th century has unusual wooden bosses, some showing grotesque heads and others depicting various flower designs. The brownish colour of the roof contrasts strongly with the brilliant white of the nave and chancel walls. Alongside the organ in the north aisle are the village War Memorials including three crosses from Flanders Fields, of villagers killed in the First World War. Towards the east end of the aisle is a stained glass window commemorating Lt-Col Henry Cadogan of the Royal Welch Fusiliers who was killed at Zandvoonde in Belgium in October 1914. The window shows St George of England and St David of Wales as well as the regimental badge of the Welch Fusiliers.
Opposite on the south side is the large belfry tower full of ringing certificates and other mementoes. Campanology flourishes in Damerham. There were three bells originally but in 1666 two more were added. The fourth bell is inscribed:
Our three became five
obviously referring to the Great Plague, the war with Holland and the Fire of London. In 1937 a treble bell was added. Given by Mrs E T Hibberd of South Allenford Farm it is inscribed I tell of Allenford’s Gratitude.
Most of the fittings in the church date from a Victorian restoration of 1859 though the pulpit is probably early 18th century. Inside the chancel is a tomb slab of a former vicar Henry Pincke who died in 1723. It bears a Latin inscription.
The exterior walls show simple carvings like sun dials usually known as Mass Clocks. Not far from the south porch stands the remains of a 14th century Preaching Cross.
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