BINSTED (or Benestede, as it is written in
Domesday Book) means “a holding of land.” The first stone church, probably begun
about A.D. 1140 and dedicated to the holy Cross, served the people of one or two
farms in a clearing on the top of the ridge of the “Upper Greensand.” The
underlying rock, or maim- stone, has the character of a limestone not too hard
to he easily worked, and it furnished the main building material.
The first church was probably contained in the space of the present nave and
part of the chancel, before the arches were formed. However, the population of
the district was expanding rapidly, and a large church (1180-1195) was obtained
by adding the north and south aisles, piercing or rebuilding the inner walls
with the arches, and adding side chapels to both north and south of the chancel,
so giving the church the shape of a cross. The present south chapel is the
original Lady Chapel (or “Maiden” Chapel as it is traditionally called), but the
one on the north was later rebuilt, as will appear from the description to
The tower was also added about this time of the first enlargement. A little
later, probably early in the Thirteenth century, the chancel was extended by
about fifteen feet to the east, and the space lighted by the “Early English”
lancet windows in the side walls.
||The arches in the chancel arc of the
traditional round form known as Norman or Romanesque; those in the
nave are slightly pointed showing the transition toward the
pointed “Gothic” style.
The circular columns in the nave have square
scalloped capitals (now much repaired) and moulded circular bases
standing upon square plinths. The south arcade is more elaborate
than the slightly older northern one, and is about two feet
higher. The original capitals were embellished with various
carvings which have been damaged and removed, but one of these (a
monk’s head) awaits restoration at the present time.
The Norman church must have been very dark;
its narrow windows were probably mostly of the type of the two most easterly
windows of the north aisle, or the high windows (the “clerestory”) of the nave;
they were probably furnished with wooden shutters (wind-doors) before glass
became generally available. Services in such churches had often to be
illuminated by torch-light. Larger glazed windows in the east end of the
chancel, the Maiden chapel, and the south aisle, were added at various later
times from the Fourteenth century onwards.
The district served by the church in the Fourteenth century included not only
the original manor of Binsted (or Binsted Popham), but also those of Binsted St.
Glare (mentioned in documents of A.D. 1201), Westcourt or Westcote, and
Millcourt. In A.D. 1331 Richard de la Bere, the owner of Westcote, obtained
from King Edward III a license to assign the rent from certain lands for the
support of a chaplain who would say Mass daily in the church for the repose of
the souls of “Richard de Westcote” and his descendants. For this end, he had
built two new chapels on the north of the chancel, one of which occupied the
site of the earlier north transept, and the Chantry chapel (for the daily mass)
adjacent on the north. A tomb of a Crusader will be seen in the north wall of
this Chapel, now used as a choir vestry, and entered through a wooden door near
the organ. The Crusader may have been the father or grandfather of Richard de Ia
Bere, and possibly fought in the 7th Crusade under Edward I. The effigy shows
him clad in a surcoat of mail with his bascinet (helmet) on his head which rests
on a cushion raised by two angels. The Norman French inscription on the tomb
reads:— 'Richard de Westcote gist ici deu de sa alme cit merci amen'.
This means “Richard of Westeote lies dead here. May God have mercy on his soul.
It will be seen that part of the chapel has a raised floor. Underneath this was
a charnel house probably used to receive hones disturbed from graves in the
churchyard when the chapel was built. The tops of the arches of the doorways
once leading into this space can be seen outside the church. The chapel had a
rather sad subsequent history, as the “Westcote” family seems to have died out
before the end of the Fourteenth century, and the chaplainry lapsed long before
the Reformation. In the early Nineteenth century the chapel was used as a
village school, and the crusader’s tomb was inside the school coal store ! No
wonder it sustained some damage!
The wording around the
top of the door reads:
"This is none other but the House of God"
||The Maiden chapel also contains a Fourteenth century tomb in an arched recess
covering a slab incised with a cross; but no name is decipherable. There is a
piscina in the south-cast corner of the chapel, and the corbels on each side of
the east window were intended to support images.
There is a fine double piscina in the chancel, to the south of the high altar;
note also the ancient locker or aumbry in the north wall. Each chapel on the
north had an arched piscina to the south of its altar.
The erection of the tower may have cut off some light from an earlier west
window; some compensation was made later by piercing the three windows in the
east wall of the nave above the chancel arch. The ground storey of the tower is
entered by a wide arch in the old west wall of the nave, above which is a
doorway opening into the second stage of the tower; this door may have been used
to give access from the tower into a space between the rafters and a flat
ceiling which may at one time have covered the nave. In later years there was a
gallery in the west end of the church and the door was probably useful in
connection with it. Certainly the nave must, at various times, have presented an
appearance differing greatly from its present form.
The Tower contains a good peal of bells. The vestry records (which date hack
only to 1664) record that in 1695 “3 of our bells are broke in the staples
and 1 is slit, and none tuneable one to the other.” The answer to this
difficulty is inscribed on the tenor bell thus:— “In 1695 Nicholas Wheeler did
contrive out of four bells to make five”. A sixth bell was added (and the
chiming clock erected) in 1887 for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.
An “Angelus” bell of mediaeval date hangs outside the eastern side of the spire
date of erection of the latter is not exactly known. The main bells have all
been re-cast in recent years, but their original inscriptions were copied.
The large doorway in the wall of the south
aisle was inserted about 1330, probably replacing a narrower Norman
doorway. The vestry on the north of the chancel was added about a
hundred years later, and the three-light windows in the east walls
of both the Chancel and the Maiden chapel were inserted about the
same time, no doubt greatly improving the lighting of the east end
of the Church.
A new pulpit and
reading desk replaced the old ones.
The present alabaster font, given by
Mrs. Wickham in 1896 replaces
a Twelfth-century octagonal font which had become unserviceable.
The building thenceforward saw little change
till 1863, when a drastic restoration took place. The old chancel arch was
replaced by a pointed arch of greater size, and other ancient features,
including the gallery, were removed; the old pews were replaced, the building
re-roofed, and the south porch rebuilt.
The south wall of the nave and the north wall
of the \Vestcote chapel were also largely re-built. The two most easterly
windows of the south wall were inserted, and the remains of an old oak parclose
screen were taken from between the pillars and used to decorate the pews in the
No ancient stained glass remains, with the
exception of some belonging to the lancet window near the font, and dated 1578,
in which the arms of Sir Henry Wallop (silver a bend wavy sable) appear, which
are quartered with the arms of Valoins, an ancient Hampshire family. The glass
in the east window of the chance! was made in Brussels in the 1870’s.
Other recent restorations include the replacement of the ancient timber supports
for the bell-frame by a concrete construction (1958); the spire was restored in
1933; both pieces of work were carried out by a local firm. The altar table, was
made by a local craftsman; it stands over a part of the floor tiled with
‘caustic’ tiles like some, from Selborne Priory, which can be seen in the museum
at Alton; it is said that these were found in various parts of the church in the
restoration of 1863 and collected together for this purpose.
IN PROUD AND
LOVING MEMORY OF
MARK MANWARING ROBERTSON
LIEUT 3RD CAVALRY I.A.C. DEARLY LOVED YOUNGEST
SON OF MANWARING & KAREN ROBERTSON OF KINGS.BINSTEAD.KILLED IN
ACTION JAN 10 1942
AT KLANG MALAYA AGED 22 YEARS.
|THERE IS BUT ONE TASK FOR
FOR EACH ONE LIFE TO GIVE.
WHO STANDS IF FREEDOM FALL.
WHO DIES IF ENGLAND LIVE.
The Parish registers date only from 1653.
Binsted was a chapelry of Alton from very early times, but in 1854 Binsted with
Kingsley was constituted a benefice under the patronage of the Dean and Chapter
of Winchester. Binsted was made into a separate benefice on 9th November, 1926.
In Memory of
WILLIAM WICKHAM OGILVY
Who died of Wounds Received Nr Jussy
in France while Commanding the
Dismounted Detachment of His Regiment
on March 23rd 1918 aged 22
Only Son of the Late
W.L.K Ogilvy CB Col 60th Rifles &
Lucy Ogilvy & Grandson of the Late
William Wickham Esq DL MP
and Sophia Emma Wickham
of Binsted Wyck in this Parish
Beloved by All Most Deeply Mourned
We Count Him Happy Who Edured
Field Marshal The Viscount Montgomery of
Alamein KG, GCB, DSO, DL was buried in the Churchyard on Thursday 1st April
Left: The grave of
Field Marshal The Viscount
Montgomery. Right: Banner of Field Marshal Viscount
Montgomery of Alamein.
This previously hung above
his staff as a Knight Grand Order Cross of the Order of the Bath
in Westminster Abbey
|Stone coffin lids in the
||Altar cloth on the wall
of the church
BACK TO BINSTED