St John the Baptist, Boldre
The exact date of the origins of the Church of St John the
Baptist at Boldre will always remain a matter for some
speculation. Since there are three Sarsen stones in the early
foundations of the present church, it does seem at least possible
that the site served as a place of worship as long ago as 2000 B.C.,
the heyday of stone circles, long before the coming of
Christianity. It has even been suggested that the choice of St
Baptist as patron saint might have been influenced by the fact
that his Festival Day falls in Midsummer, and as such was a
favourite for a site converted by the Early Church to the "New
This origin may have been one reason for the church's unusual
position, high on a hill and well away from any kind of village,
dominating the surrounding countryside of field and wood. It is
not in fact the only Forest church to be somewhat isolated, since
a number of them, like Brockenhurst and Bramshaw, were placed on
high ground in the centre of the large and scattered parishes
they served, rather than within any one particular village.
DOMESDAY BOOK & NORMANS
The church is not mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086,
although the civil Hundred of 'Bovre' - probably a Norman
corruption of "Bol Re" (plank over river) - is there,
with its links with the Priory of Twyneham,
Christchurch. This may have been an omission by the compilers
caused by the confusion over the major tax reassessments after
the Afforestation, especially as Boldre's entry is the worst page
in the book. There are in fact many other instances of
unchronicled Saxon churches, and Boldre may have been one of
those ruined in the Norman Spoliation of AD 1070. Since Boldre is
mentioned as the headquarters of the Hundred in the Domesday Book
it is likely to have'achieved this status partly by the
importance of its church at the time. Certainly a Charter of c.1100
refers to Boira church with its chapel of Brokehurst.
It is accepted that a church was built at Boldre by William I
immediately after the Afforestation in 1079, or possibly even
before, as a church of secular canons had been established in
Saxon times at Christchurch and
their active ministry field stretched between Poole and Boldre.
In view of the acknowledged link with the Afforestation, and
taking into account all the available evidence, the church
celebrated its 900th anniversary in 1987, and a commemorative
plaque is to be found at the eastern end of the South Aisle on
the northern wall of the arch leading to the tower.
POSITION IN THE AREA
For centuries Boldre was the Mother Church of the southern New
Forest, a situation which dated back to the 12th century. A
Charter of Baldwin de Redvers (1140 -50) confirms to Hyllary,
dean of the canons at Christchurch Twyneham, the church of Boira
with its chapels of Limnetona and Brokenhurst. This confirms it
as the senior church in the area - despite the Royal hunting
lodge at Brockenhurst - within 15 years of the Domesday book.
Boldre had its status as a vicarage ordained between 1151 -1172
and after the Dissolution of Christchurch Priory by Henry VIII in
1539 it obtained its own independence in 1561.
Boldre's extensive parish contained the chapelries of
Brockenhurst and Lymington. These were served by curates of
Boldre for many centuries, although strenuous efforts were made
by Lymington to secure their own
vicar. In 1839 Sway and East Boldre were assigned their own
Parishes, followed by South Baddesley in 1859. Brockenhurst had
achieved its own independence in 1806, but Lymington did not
become legally separated
from Boldre until 1869.
The present boundaries of the parish enclose an area of 7718
acres and include Battrarnsley, Walhampton, Portmore, Bull Hill,
Pilley Bailey, Pilley and Boldre, most of which were recorded in
the Domesday Book.
GROWTH OF THE BUILDING THROUGH THE CENTURIES
Each century from the eleventh to the present day has made its
contribution to the building. After the Norman conquest these
were the main phases:
The Norman Church 1080 - 1175
All that remains of this stage of the building today is to be
seen in the three easternmost arches of the South Arcade with
their piers. There may have been a corresponding north aisle, of
which there is no evidence now, so forming a small church with
nave, two aisles and an apsidal chancel, all typical of the
1220 - 1240 The North Chapel was built, and named after Isabella
de Fortibus, Countess of Devon. Although the Fleur-de-Lys window
has disappeared, three armorial shields of great families
connected to her can
still be seen in a drawing of the window made in 1802. A piece of
weather moulding on the outer face of the chapel's west wall, now
visible in the choir vestry, seems to indicate that there had
been an annexe to the west of the chapel when it was built.
The South Porch also belongs to this period. The trefoiled
opening in the gable of the porch was originally a niche
containing a statue, but now holds a window of St Nicholas,
patron saint of sailors, as part of the
1270 -1280 The Nave was lengthened, with a corresponding South
Aisle, to the present West Wall with its doorway and shallow
buttresses. The octagonal piers to this arcade, and the mouldings
and shape of their
capitals are rather unusual, and there is evidence of a
misalignment of the new walls by the builders on the easternmost
of the extension's piers.
Soon after 1300 The Chancel and lower part of The Tower were
built, the former superseding the original Norman Chancel.
The North Wall of the Nave would seem to belong to this period,
together with the Buttress at the North west corner.
1697 The Buttress at the South western corner of the church was
built and the upper part of The Tower was rebuilt in brick .
Two stone panels on the south side of the tower read:
|Church Wardens 1697
During the Gothic revival the original Windows in the South Aisle
were replaced by windows with clear diamond leaded panes. William
Gilpin, vicar 1777 - 1804 was responsible for much other work in
1855 The Chancel was completely rebuilt from a few feet above the
ground and given a plaster ceiling. Twenty years later this
ceiling was removed, revealing wooden rafters.
Late Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.
Considerable restoration and renovation took place during this
period, including the replacing of the whole of the plasterwork
of the ceiling. New vestries were built and the Sanctuary
enlarged. It was during this period
that much new work on the windows was undertaken, making the
church much lighter.
The most recent renovation took place in 1996 when the West Wall
had to have a major overhaul at very short notice.
The next section of the guide gives more detail about the fabric
and furnishings of the church. It is followed by a section giving
some further facts and information not directly connected with
bricks and mortar.
SOUTH PORCH AND NORTH (DE FORTIBUS) CHAPEL.
The visitor comes into the church through the 13th century porch
which is now part of the HMS HOOD memorial (see below). The rest
of the memorial can be found directly across the church opposite
the doorway, at the northwest corner of the North (de Fortibus)
THE NORTH (DE FORTIBUS) CHAPEL,
in which the Book of Remembrance is sited, is considered the best
piece of architecture in the church. It is called after Isabella
de Fortibus, Countess of Devon (d.1293),
who inherited her estates, including Boldre, from her brother,
Baldwin de Redvers, 8th Earl of Devon and Lord of Wight in 1262;
she probably gave the famous Fleur-de-Lys East Window in the
chapel. All trace of this
window has now disappeared, though there is a copy of a drawing
by Thomas Powell, on the wall by the porch, of the armorial
shields still there in 1802. These shields appear to be those of
families connected to Isabella de Fortibus: de Clare, for her
mother Amicia de Clare, de Warenne for her sister-in-law, Avis
Warenne, and the Fleur-de-Lys itself for Isabella's son-in-law,
Edmund Crouchback, who later married the grand-daughter of Louis
VIII, King of France. In 1956 the current Bradley Window, by
Derek Wilson, was put in where the Fleur-de-Lys window had been,
itself replacing the Victorian glass of the previous Blanshard
There seems originally to have been a narrow north aisle to the
church, part of which was replaced by this splendidly
proportioned chapel. At the same time the western end of the
aisle was demolished. The columns
dividing the chapel and the nave are of Purbeck marble, widely
used in the 13th Century, as in Salisbury cathedral, Beaulieu and
The Windows. Until recently the chapel was very
dark, its four main windows containing sombre Victorian glass.
These were replaced in 1956. The three armorial windows in the
north wall were designed by Francis Skeat. Two were given in memory of the Burrard family who used to
live in Walhampton House and the centre window is a memorial to
the early twentieth century painter Creswell Hartley Desmond, of
The latter also designed the lectern made and carved by his
sister, Phoebe Desmond (see pl6), whose name has been added to
the inscription on the window. The West Window was inserted in
The Reverend William Gilpin. On the north wall
is the wall tablet to William Gilpin, Boldre's most celebrated
vicar (see p24). His interesting chest tomb is in the churchyard
on the north side of the church.
Also of note in the chapel are the stone carvings on either side
of the windows and both sides of the pillars between the nave and
the chapel, two Bishop's Chairs on either side of the altar, and
the paving stones,
once headstones in the churchyard, which provide good examples of
the early practice of letting single words run over from one line
to the next.
the wooden altar and surround were given in
memory of James Alien Young in 1923/ and the altar-rail was given
by Creswell Hartley Desmond and his sister Phoebe in the 1930s in
memory of their mother.
NAVE, CHANCEL & SANCTUARY.
Moving back into the Nave, the visitor sees the Pulpit, designed
by Norman Shaw, a leading late 19th century architect who, as
well as several churches, also built Scotland Yard. The pulpit (1876)
was given in memory
of the Reverend Charles Shrubb, curate, then vicar, for 57 years
from 1817, and followed by his son-in-law, the Reverend E. H.
Elers/ vicar till 1912. The stone flooring and steps of the
chancel and sanctuary were given in
memory of another Shrubb, John Peyto Charles, by his widow in
From here one has a good view of the Barrel or Waggon Roof of the
nave with its carved bosses, typical of the work of country
craftsmen in the 14th century. In 1958 several were taken down to
have woodworm damage
repaired and a member of the congregation climbed the
builder'sscaffolding to repair and paint the remaining seven in
situ as they could not be removed from the strong iron spikes
The North Window(1880) depicts Jesus predicting
the Raising of Lazarus.
The East (de Mowbray) Window, 1967, depicts
Christ in Glory, and was designed by Alan Younger of London. It
is in memory of Sub Lieutenant Richard de Mowbray RN and of his
father Captain Eric de Mowbray CBE RN and was given by Mrs Louise
de Mowbray and her younger son Colin. The window shows the robed
figure of Christ reigning from the cross, and the main tracery
contains a representation of the dove, symbolising the Holy
Spirit. The richly coloured emblems, of triangular shape, linked
with and flowing from the dove, represent the Gifts of the Spirit
(Isaiah 11.2). This is one of Alan Younger's earliest
commissions, and he was able to restore it himself after it had a
brick thrown through it in 1995. Later windows of his include the
Bede window in the Galilee Chapel of Durham Cathedral, the Rose
window in St Alban's Cathedral, and two recent lancets in Chester
cathedral. The South West window in this church is also
by him (.
Also in 1967 the panelling and screens behind and to the sides of
the altar were removed to show the whole length of the East
Window. At the same time the mediaeval window and embrasure to
the south of the altar,
omitted in the 1855 rebuilding of the chancel, was reinstated.
The Lectern was carved to a design by Creswell
Hartley Desmond by his sister, Phoebe, over a period of twenty
years, from two pieces of oak from Boldre Grange, and given to
the church in 1952 in memory of four
previous incumbents. On the flat surface of the wall between the
lectern and the south aisle can still be seen the faint traces of
a mediaeval painting. The masonry of this respond or half-pillar
and the three Norman arches between it and the font form the oldest part of the
present church dating from 1080.
At one time there was a rood screen dividing the chancel from the
nave. Above it was a rood loft, used by the small orchestra and
choir soloists who led the singing in the church. The 15th
century wooden doorway to
the loft staircase, long since infilled, is in the south aisle.
The choir in the church has a long tradition. As long ago as 1792
a friend of William Gilpin remarked that "there were several
fine heads in the church, and the band of singers full of rough
harmony." However when they struck for more pay in 1811 they
were replaced by a less demanding choir from the daughter church
of South Baddesley. Since that time there has been a succession
of excellent organists who have made possible choral singing of a
high standard. In recent years the choir has sung Evensong on a
number of occasions at Winchester and Salisbury cathedrals.
THE TOWER AND SOUTH AISLE.
The Tower is on the south side of the chancel. Before the pipe
organ was installed the base was probably used as a Lady Chapel (note
the 14th century trefoiled piscine in the south wall). The organ
was built from parts
of the organ at the 1851 Great Exhibition and given to the church
in 1885; its pipes completely filled the tower. In 1990 the pipe
organ was replaced by a Copeman-Hart electronic organ located at
the east end of the south
aisle; the original organ pipes are now in a church in Romania.
For the space in the tower thus freed the PCC in 1993
commissioned a forged steel chandelier from Richard Bent of
Romsey, whose parents ran The New Inn (Hobler), Setley. It was
dedicated by the Archdeacon of Winchester and commemorates the
900th anniversary of the church, as recorded by the wall plaque
There are Eight Bells hung in the Tower of which the original
three were listed in the church inventory of 1552. The bells were
recast during the incumbency of the Reverend Charles Shrubb in
the 19th century and repaired and rehung in 1927, at which point
five more were given to the churchy making a peal of eight.
Recently the tower had to be strengthened and the peal was then
converted to be rung as a carillon.
The Breeches or Geneva Bible on
view is an edition printed in 1615 (the first edition was
published in 1560). Opposite it is a copy of the 'She' Bible of
1613, so called from the confusion in Ruth 3.15, when one of the
three printings used the word 'He' instead of 'She'.
As one returns down the south aisle, the Font is reached, beside
the south porch. Octagonal, and of 15th century date, it sits
upon a tall modern stem and base. Opposite it is the Parish
Chest, used for the storage of parish registers and church plate
before the modern safe, but given away at the time of the 1855
restoration. It was discovered in the Lymington workhouse and
returned to the church, though the original lid was stolen
Beside it will be found a detailed guide (A Short History of the
Saints, by the Reverend J.H.M. Staniforth) to the Embroidered Pew
Runners. These were all worked by the Boldre Church Needlework
Guild starting in 1956,
as well as the three hundred hassocks, four sets of communion
vestments, three altar frontals and a festal cope. The pew
runners all bear the arms of British saints and the coloured
backgrounds indicate their status: red for a martyr, royal blue
for a king or queen, purple for a bishop, black for a monk and
white for a nun.
The Graves Register is also opposite the Font,
with instructions how to use it, listing all the names of those
buried between 1710 - 1993. It also contains a list of all those
commemorated on the grave slabs, wall tablets
and windows in the church, of which the oldest named slab is of
'Mary - died 19th April 1693'. However the very oldest name
appearing on any slab is that of 'Arthur Bromfield - died 26 May
1650' and mentioned on his
grandson's tombstone as being buried nearby.
On the pillar immediately opposite the font is a brass plaque to
the Reverend Richard Johnson, Curate to William Gilpin in 1784/5.
He sailed as Chaplain with the First Fleet to found the penal
Colony of New South
Wales, Australia, in 1788 and built the first wattle and daub
church at his own expense. There are now close links with the
second replacement church of St Philip's Church, Sydney, where
his bible and prayer book are
displayed in his commemorative chapel. The plaque was dedicated
by the Bishop of Sydney North when he was attending the Lambeth
conference in 1988. There is a booklet - The Bishop of Botany Bay
- on the life of
Richard Johnson available in the church.
THE WEST END
Windows. The South Aisle at its west end
contains a small window by Alan Younger, the Taylor window. It
bears the inscription "In memory of lona Taylor and her life
of service". lona Taylor was Girl Guide County
Commissioner for Hampshire and amongst other emblems at the foot
of the window appears the Girl Guide trefoil. The three white
vertical lines of the window symbolise the Trinity; the twelve
small gold circles of light
represent the twelve apostles; the darker blues form a cross
shape and in the centre is a rich burst of summer and harvest
colours representing God the Creator. It was dedicated in 1980.
Alan Younger also designed the de Mowbray East Window (pl6). The
West Window, depicting Faith, Hope and Charity, was made by Ward
& Hughes of London and inserted in 1864, in memory of Charles
Winston, barrister and author of 'Hints on Glass
Paintmg: 1846', the seminal study of medieval stained glass.
The Flags of the United States and of Canada are
reminders of World War Two. The former was presented by the US
forces who used Walhampton House supposedly as an Officers' Rest
Centre during the war and
worshipped at Boldre. The 'Officers' Rest Centre' was in fact
security cover for an O.S.S. base (the American equivalent of the
British S.O.E.). The Canadian flag was presented in 1993 in
memory of the Canadian airmen
of 405 Squadron RCAF of Coastal Command, who flew from Beaulieu
Airfield, and were killed between 1942 - 43, by a party of
veterans who had come over to visit their graves; these are among
the war graves in the
North West of the graveyard.
The Two Oak Cupboards were given in memory of
Frank Perkins by his widow in 1946. He had been an MP for the New
Forest 1910 -1921 and was a great benefactor to parish and church.
He wrote 'Boldre: The Parish, the Church and the Inhabitants',
still the standard work. His life and character are admirably
summed up by the inscriptions on the cupboards which read: "W.
Frank Perkins ~ Dear Man'.
The West Doors with their fine carving were
given in memory of Squadron Leader William Clarke, who was killed
in action over Holland in 1943. Partly under the steps down to
them lies a Saxon grave slab. The position of this as well as the
steps suggests that the floor may originally have had a slight
rise towards the east.
At some time a gallery, dismantled in 1855, was built over the
West Door for the church musicians after the removal of the rood
screen and loft. It housed a barrel organ which played three
tunes: Old Hundredth, a hymn
and a psalm.
The Vestry was extended
westwards in 1963 to the full length of the church, and the doors
leading in from the nave were given in memory of Edmund Prys
Lloyd, organist from 1934 - 1964. The outer vestry door in the
north wall commemorates Lieutenant Commander Creagh Osborne, a
RNAS test pilot who died in 1957 when he refused to eject from
his crashing aircraft until he had steered it well clear of a
On the north wall of the nave is the striking portrait bust of
John Kempe, MP for Lymington in 1640. Popular for his hard work
and care for the town, his is one of the few busts of the period
to have survived the Cromwellian age unvandalised.
THE EXTERIOR OF THE BUILDING
The church is built of ashlar and rubble with flints probably
brought from the Isle of Wight. There is no such stone in the New
Forest and it would have been difficult to bring it by road from
the chalk areas near Salisbury
and Winchester. The Roof Tiles, of an unusual size, are probably
of Forest manufacture.
It is not known for how long there has been a weathervane on the
south west corner of the Tower, but one of the earliest drawings
of the churchy of 1825, shows one there. It was last renovated in
All the pictures of the church from the beginning of this century
show a sundial on the south wall of the tower. The current
sundial is a copy of the original, made in 1962.
The West Wall. In August 1995 it was discovered that the great
west wall of the church, although 1 metre thick, was cracking and
moving outwards, requiring immediate shoring up to prevent
collapse. Detailed investigation found that water had been
entering for a long period through the wall coping of stone and
lead, washing down the rubble and loose fill in the centre of the
wall. This loose fill was found to include sea
shells and large round stones probably offloaded as ballast from
ships docking in Lymington and picking up cargo there. When the
big buttress on the west wall was dismantled a large void was
also found. By using a
special system of cintec anchors and infilling with a special
grout called St Paul's mix, the whole was stitched horizontally
and diagonally and tied into the nave wall up to 8 metres deep .
The work was completed by June 1996 at a cost of £50/000, £34/000
of which was found by the people of the parish, a remarkable
effort, and the remainder from grants. At the patronal festival
it was blessed by the Archdeacon, the Venerable Alan Clarkson,
and a time capsule was bricked in to the masonry.
This is unusually large, covering three and a half acres in all.
It contains the War Memorial Cross, twenty-three War Graves, and
a Garden of Remembrance for cremated ashes, as well as the many
graves dating from
1698. There is a Graves Register in the church opposite the Font
of all those buried between 1710 - 1993, with instructions how to
use it, and a large Plan of the Graveyard in the South Porch,
both of which were revised and drawn up by Peter Chitty in 1994.
The War Memorial Cross, of granite, was erected in 1920 to
commemorate the twenty-nine men of the parish who fell in the
First World War. The names of the seventeen who fell in the
Second World War were added in
1948. On Remembrance Sunday the Roll of Honour is read at the
cross by a member of the congregation, a senior member of one of
The Twenty-three War Graves in the north west corner of the
churchyard include those of fifteen Canadian airmen stationed at
Beaulieu Aerodrome during the Second World War .
The oldest named tombstone in the graveyard is that of Edward
Watts, twelve paces from the east end of the church, who died on
May 12th, 1698. Its decoration includes carvings of a skull and
thighbones and an hour
William Gilpin's chest tomb is to be found on
the north side of the church,
and bears an inscription, perhaps faintly ambiguous in its last
composed by Gilpin himself:
|"In a quiet mansion
beneath this stone, secured from the afflictions and the
still more dangerous enjoyments of life, lie the remains
of William Gilpin,
sometime Vicar of the Parish, together with the remains
of Margaret his
wife. After living above fifty years in happy union, they
hope to be raised in
God's good time (through the atonement of a blessed
Redeemer for their
repented transgressions) to a state of joyful immortality.
Here it will be a
joy to see several of their good neighbours who now lie
scattered in these
sacred precincts around them."
Several of the headstones, especially of
the eighteenth century, are
inscribed in verse and make interesting reading. Amongst these
Joseph Young, 1766 -
|Hark from the tomb a doleful
My ears attend the cry.
Ye living men come view the ground
Where you must shortly lie.
and for Stephen White, 1801 -
|Affliction sore long time I
Physicians were in vain,
Till God was pleased to give me ease
And relieve me of my pain.
Boldre Church has never been an unchanged,
unchanging building. It has been enlarged, contracted, enhanced,
restored, rebuilt and adorned constantly during its long life to
meet the changing needs of the
community of which it is part. One cannot walk round it, far less
write about it, without becoming aware of the countless
individuals who have contributed to its existence. Some of them
find a place in this guide, others
in the church itself, and 'some there be who have no memorial'
but whose contribution is nonetheless real and lasting, and helps
to make Boldre church what it is today.
The following section deals with some of the people, possessions
and events that have become part of the unique heritage of the
church of St John the Baptist at Boldre.
THE REVEREND WILLIAM GILPIN
William Gilpin, absolutely nothing to do with the John Gilpin of
William Cowper's poem, was vicar of Boldre church from 1777 till
his death in 1804. Born at Scaleby Castle near Carlisle in 1724,
he was the headmaster
of Cheam School for twenty-five years and was given the living of
Boldre on his retirement by one of his former pupils, William
Mitford of Exbury House, at that time Patron of Boldre.
He was an artist of distinction, the first president of the
Watercolour Society, and can be credited with the founding of the
Picturesque movement that gained ground in the eighteenth century.
several essays on his general theory of landscape painting
intended for the guidance of the growing band of eighteenth
century amateur artists, travellers and collectors, of whom he
could claim to be one. He had started
making his own 'Tours' in about 1776, of the New Forest, the
Lakes and Scotland, and illustrated them himself. They were
extremely popular and sold well, though he himself set more store
on his religious publications,
which included a complete paraphrase of the New Testament.
At the time of his appointment as Vicar his parishioners were
notorious as 'little better than a gang of gypsies, and without
the opportunity of the humblest education, or the means of
religious instruction' and 'presented
a picture of almost ferine (wild beast-like) life, which had few
parallels in our civilized country'. William Gilpin set to, ex-headmaster
that he was, to change this state of affairs. From the time of
his appointment until his
death in 1804 he worked ceaselessly and apparently successfully
to improve their morals and behaviour. Home visits, 'gentle
exhortation, and a ready relief of their necessities' all played
their part. He also improved
their lot materially by building a Poor House and a model school
for 20 girls and 20 boys, both of them the first of their kind in
the country. He raised funds to build and endow these
institutions largely by the painting and sale of his watercolours.
He showed the same reforming zeal for his church. In one of his
letters we can read: 'Some time ago I was engaged in the same
business with my church - that is to make it decent. I made a
neat cornice - gave capitals to my pillars - tinted the whole a
light leaden colour and turned a very ugly deformed thing into a
very decent parish church.'
There is a wall tablet to him in the North Chapel and his tomb is
in the churchyard .
THE LIST OF INCUMBENTS
Since the first known Vicar, Walter, in 1257, this list is
remarkably complete, and a copy hangs on the south wall by the
doorway. The succession has been almost continuous since 1352
except for the height of
the Civil War and the subsequent Restoration, when the benefice
was discreetly vacant, and the duties were carried out by a
layman, John Beesley, for a total of five years. Some of the more
noteworthy clerics are
Walter the Vicar was accused at the Assizes of
1257 of unjustly disseising the widow Haweise of Wereburne.
Richard Blaunchard the Vicar was fined £2 for
deer stealing in 1270.
Robert Jackson, Vicar 1585 - 1596, sued
Lymington in 1588 for tithes due to Boldre and secured judgment.
He provided a curate for Lymington, but in 1596 on his death they
were granted a Rector.
John Howell, Vicar 1706 -' 1724, sued by
Lymington for living within 'their' parish, was required to move
William Gilpin, Vicar 1777 -1804 (see p24).
Richard Johnson, Curate to William Gilpin 1784 -1785 (see pl8)
Richard Warner, Curate to William Gilpin 1790 -
1794. An eminent and prolific author whose work included
'Literary Recollections' covering his early upbringing in
Lymington, schooling in Christchurch, and his first
parishes of Boldre and Fawley.
Henry Comyn, Curate 1812 -
1819. He compiled a remarkable survey of every family and the
house they lived in for the joint parishes of Boldre and
Brockenhurst in 1817. It was published in 1982 as 'Comyn's New
The Reverend Canon John Hayter, Vicar 1955 -1982.
In 1941 he arrived in Singapore as a young missionary priest and
was soon interned in the notorious Changi Gaol, spending four
years under the Japanese occupation. Soon after his return to
England he began his twenty-seven years of inspiring ministry in
THE PARISH REGISTERS, amongst the earliest in
the New Forest, run from 1596, with only two 17th century gaps,
1621 -1626, and 1657 - 1663. In them can be found the record of
the marriage of: 'Robert Southey Full
age. Widower. Poet Laureate. On 4th June 1839 to Caroline Anne
Bowles. Full age. Spinster of Lymington.'
THE CHURCH PLATE over the centuries has been
enriched by a number of chalices, flagons and patens, both silver
and plate. The oldest chalice, 17th century, is now kept at
Winchester. The oldest paten, dated 1669/ is still used as an
THE WILD BEAST SERMON is sometimes preached on a
Sunday near March 18th to commemorate the escape of a member of
the Worsley family from a wild beast. This is not the easiest of
tasks since it is in doubt
whether the animal concerned was a wild lion in Africa, a wild
boar or stag in the New Forest, or a lion escaped from a
menagerie travelling through the forest; all of these versions
have been advanced. The Vicar used to receive a guinea and a
goose for his pains, from an endowment by the Worsleys, though
more recently the goose has been commuted into a second guinea.
ST NICHOLAS CHAPEL. In 1964 Wing Commander and
Mrs Nigel Horris and their family gave a chapel in Pilley in
memory of their son, Nicholas, killed in a flying accident whilst
training with the Fleet Air Arm.
Built on a site adjoining the Boldre War Memorial Hall, it is
dedicated to St. Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors, and used
for Sunday evening and midweek services. In 1997 it was re-ordered
and adapted to provide a Meeting Room and Parish Office.
The new Millenium window
in St Johns Church
kindly sent in by :
New South Wales
HMS HOOD MEMORIAL
The action of HMS Hood and the Bismarck.
HMS Hood (Captain R.Kerr CBE RN), flagship of Vice Admiral
L.E.Holland CB, was at sea during the afternoon of 23rd May 1941,
off the south west corner of Iceland. In company with HMS Prince
of Wales, and screened by her destroyers. Antelope, Achates,
Anthony, Electra, Echo and Icarus, the force was searching for
the German battleship, Bismarck, and her escort, the heavy
cruiser Prinz Eugen. By the time the enemy was sighted at 05.37,
the destroyers had already been detached. Fire was opened at 05.53
and Bismarck's fifth salvo was mortal; at 06.00 HMS Hood blew up
and sank within two minutes in position 63 degrees 20' N,31
degrees 50' W. She took with her the Admiral and 1,416 officers
and men. There were only three survivors. During the long history
of the Royal Navy few ships have so held the admiration and
affection of the British people as HMS Hood. Generations of
officers and men who served in her held her in special honour.
When Hood was sunk in Icelandic waters in the early hours of
Empire Day, 24th May 1941, the sense of loss, felt not only by
the families of those who died, but by the whole nation, was
Vice Admiral L.E.Holland
Among those who died was Vice Admiral L.E.
Holland CB, who, with his wife and family, had been a regular
worshipper at Boldre for many years. The inner porch doors had
been given by them in memory of their son,
John, who died in 1936. After the War when it became clear that
no official memorial was to be raised to those who died in HMS
Hood, Mrs Phyllis Holland planned and carried through the scheme
which brought the
Hood Commemoration to Boldre.
The Cornish chough
The porch now holds a framed photograph of
Hood; two Vice Admiral's lanterns; a small stained glass window
of St. Nicholas, patron saint of sailors, and two long oak
benches carved with the ship's badge of a Cornish chough, which
also appears in the set of kneelers at the altar rails in the
North Chapel and on the runner in the front pew of the north
western part of the nave.
The Illuminated Book of Remembrance can be seen
in the north west corner of the North Chapel directly opposite
the entrance. This book, containing the names of the 1,417
officers and men of HMS Hood, was
written and illuminated by Mrs Daisy Alcock*, who was also
responsible for the Royal Air Force Book of Remembrance in
Westminster Abbey. There is a facsimile copy for reference in the
drawer underneath the Book of Remembrance. In 1997, another book,
this time listed alphabetically rather than by rank for ease of
reference was donated by Mrs Cutlack, whose husband had served in
the Hood and used to come to the Hood
services. He left a generous legacy to the Church trust on his
death, and his widow gave the alphabetical book, and another
cloth-bound copy for everyday use, as a tangible memorial to him.
The picture of HMS Hood was painted and given by the eminent
marine artist, Montague Dawson, in memory of his wife. Sadly he
died a week before the date fixed for its dedication -
"To the Glory of God, in honour of the Officers and Men
of this great ship,
and in memory of Doris Mary Montague Dawson, 1899-1973."
The artist has depicted HMS Hood as seen from the quarter deck of
a destroyer on the starboard wing of her close screen.
In 1984 a Tampion for preventing sea-water from entering the 15
inch gun barrels was presented by Lady Binnie, widow of a former
captain of HMS Hood. It may have come from one of the guns in the
Royal Marine manned turret. It is to be seen near the Dawson
On a Sunday towards the end of May a service is held in memory of
the ship's company of HMS Hood. This is attended by a large
number of relatives and friends of those who died, as well as by
and Men who served in the ship during her distinguished history.
VISIT THE HMS
HOOD WEBPAGE This will
take you to a new site so bookmark this page if you wish to
* A bit of a controversy is that this
should be Miss Daisy Alcock as references to her at
http://www.localhistory.scit.wlv.ac.uk/listed/newhall.htm refer to her as
Miss Alcock. But the above text came from the church at Boldre.