The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


Autumn Edition 2010

Country Churches

125. St Mary Slaugham

This fine Norman church in the heart of West Sussex mostly dates from the 13th century, though the Covert Chapel was added in 1613 whilst the Victorians enlarged the south aisle and also built a new vestry and south porch.

The font in the middle of the south aisle is late Norman. Made of Sussex marble it has a square bowl supported on large circular columns. Two faces of the bowl have decorated panels whilst another depicts a large fish possibly a pike. The pulpit of Flemish workmanship is over 400 years old and was given to the church in 1840 by Wilfred Loder in memory of his father Sir Robert Loder. The attractive alabaster reredos was dedicated in 1921 in memory of C.P.Warren. It depicts 10 saints including St Augustine of Hippo, St Peter, St Paul, St Jerome, St Wilfrid and St Gregory with Christ in the centre. Two adjacent gilt figures on the east wall are St Richard and St Mary the Virgin.

The most interesting feature of the church is the 16th century Covert monuments, the Coverts being Lords of the Manor from the 1480’s until 1735. The first is the large Richard Covert memorial along the south wall of the chapel. Richard who died in 1579 is shown kneeling in prayer with his wife and many children. Each figure has the first letter of their name above the effigy. A local stonemason produced all these sculptures for 30.

On the north side another Richard Covert (d.1547) has a monument in the form of an Easter tomb. He is shown kneeling beside three of his four wives Elizabeth Fagge, Elizabeth Nevyle and Jane Ashburnum. On the wall nearby a brass commemorates John Covert who died in 1503.

The many stained glass windows were all installed between 1866 and 1914 and commemorate various parishioners and past rectors. Also in the chancel is the funeral hatchment of Janette Serginson (1846) who was the wife of the rector. There is also a naval memorial relating to Captain William Ellison commemorating a battle in 1780 between HMS Pearl and the French frigate L’Esperance.

Outside in the churchyard is an ancient yew tree over 25 feet in circumference and estimated to be 900 years old. Near the south porch is the tombstone of Thomas Norud de Sesed who died in 1615. Close to the east wall of the church is the Matcham Vault. Catherine Matcham the wife of Squire George Matcham, was the youngest sister of Admiral Lord Nelson. After his death at Trafalgar Lady Emma Hamilton and her daughter Horatia visited the Matchams. Some years later after the death of Lady Hamilton in Calais Squire George made the 14 year old Horatia his ward. She came to live at Slaugham for two years until moving to Norfolk to live with another aunt Susannah.

On leaving note the sturdy lych gate erected in 1903 and dedicated to Wilfrid Loder. It is inscribed ‘Amavimas, Amamus, Amabimus’ (we have loved, we love, we will love). Until 1922 it stood alongside the old village inn, the White Horse, which largely obscured any view of the church apart from a glimpse of the sturdy tower with its triangular shaped roof.

John Symonds