The site of the present building has been occupied by a church
for more than a thousand years. The earliest Saxon building, of
which no traces remain, would have been of timber, and was most
likely destroyed in the Danish invasion. It was succeeded by a
Norman structure built at least partly of stone: during
restoration in 1887, pieces of a Norman arch were found incorporated in
various places in the old walls, and the foundations of a Norman
chancel were discovered by the present eastern wall. Late in the
14th century a new church was built, in Early English style. The present building is
therefore a 12th century foundation with extensive rebuilding in
the 14th, 16th, and 19th centuries.
is the glory of the church. The walls are 12th and 14th
century suggested by the corbels (stone brackets) on the
outside of the south windows, which are of a king, a queen, and a
bishop; that of the king resembles Edward III.
The nave is built in the shape of a bam, with massive oak pillars;
this work was probably done in the 16th century by Archdeacon
Michael Renniger (see below). In the 18th century the roof was
ceiled and covered with plaster; this work was removed in 1870. (There
are timber arcades in two other churches in Hampshire, one in
Kent and two in Cheshire).
By the main door into the church hangs a list of all the rectors
of Crawley since 1324. On the other side is a baptismal roll
going back to 1933.
was completely rebuilt in 1887, at the expense of the
then Rector, Revd E M Mee, and his family (see the tablet north
of the altar). According to a contemporary account, "the
walls of the chancel were decayed beyond restoration, and much
out of perpendicular". The roof was preserved, and the rest
of the chancel rebuilt in Early English style, to designs by the
architect T Edgar Williams. The chancel arch incorporates abaci
which are based on original Norman fragments discovered during
restoration; a Norman zig-zag fragment was inserted on the east
side. On the West face are traces of a door, which may at one
time have led to a loft for the choir and musicians. The organ
chamber was added at the same time, as were the choir pews and
the finely-carved "sedilia" or clergy seats.
or "squint" - an arched opening in the wall of the
chancel arch was designed to allow the congregation to see the
elevation of the Host at the High Altar, and see the figures of
the saints in the chancel.
a round depression in the squint, shows that there was
at one time a side altar on the site of the present "Court
Pews" (running parallel to the nave); it would have been
used to wash the communion vessels after service. There is
another piscina in the wall south of the altar.
Over the altar is a good Victorian stained glass window to the
memory of Archdeacon Philip Jacob, rector of Crawley for 53 years, and Archdeacon of Winchester, "father
and friend to all this parish", and founder of the village
school in 1837. He was also rector ofHunton, a ride of several
miles from Crawley on horse-back. After he got lost in a snow-storm
one night returning to Crawley, he had a wooden post placed at
Crawley Gap, on which he could hang a lantern to guide him. The
last remaining piece of "Archdeacon Jacob's post" is
preserved at the back of the church by the tower. His tomb lies
just outside the chancel door.
To the right of the altar is an old brass tablet in memory of
Michael Renniger; as an early supporter of the Reformation, he
was exiled until Elizabeth I recalled him to be her chaplain. He
was appointed Rector of Crawley in 1559, and was later Archdeacon
of Winchester. He died in 1609.
Other memorials in the chancel commemorate Henry Dampier, Walter
Turner (and his two wives). Henry Taylor, and Robert Wiseman, all
rectors of the parish. Six members of the Meylers family lie in a
vault beneath the organ chamber.
In the recess to the north of the altar is a double kneeler for
use at weddings, designed and embroidered by Mrs Barabara Dunbar,
a parishioner, in 1996
Below the Renniger brass is a fine modem aumbry, used for the
Reserved Sacrament. Among the church plate are a Charles II
chalice and paten.
is a two-manual, tracker-action instrument, believed to have been
built by the firm of Wood Wordsworth. It has an unusual feature
in the glass window above the console, through which the workings
of the action can be seen; only two other churches in Hampshire
are like this. It was given to the church in 1887 by Adam Kennard,
then owner of Crawley Court (the old manor house). Kennard is
commemorated by a plaque on the north wall of the church; the two
stained glass windows there, were in memory of his wife. The
organ was rebuilt, with two new ranks of pipes added, in 1995,
with contributions from the village, from NTL, and a grant from
the Foundation for Sport and the Arts.
THE JACOBEAN CHEST,
now below the pulpit, may have been used for a time as an altar,
and was formerly in the organ chamber.
THE MADONNA AND CHILD,
a sculpture by the New Forest artist Ron Lane, was a gift from
two American parishioners, Mr and Mrs D Davison, in 1973.
The Baptism register goes back to 1647; the Marriage and Burial
registers to 1675. The names Fitter, Pern, Paige, (still existing as names of cottages in the village),
Godwin and Browning occur frequently over a period of 200 years.
This was rebuilt, and the bells re-hung, in 1901. There is a fine
peal of five bells, usually rung for weddings and for special
services. Two of the bells were cast in 1746, one in 1789, and
two in 1802. The Tenor bell carries the inscription "To the
church I will call, to the grave summons you all".
The stained glass window in the tower is in memory of Edward Asa
Thomas, who was churchwarden of St Mary's for 22 years, and was
designed by his wife Pat. The glass itself was made at the
Kettlewell Studio in Crewkeme, Somerset.
A wooden plaque on the North wall carries the names of eleven
villagers who were killed in the 1914-1918 war. No men from the
village were killed during the Second World War.
was closed for burials in 1896, when the separate cemetery was
opened. In recent years, however, a small plot at the eastern end of the church has been set aside for the
burial of ashes following cremation. Several of the tombstones
date back to the early 18th century. The yew tree is very old. On
the eastern side of the path is a flowering cherry, presented by
the 7th Hardway Brownie Pack in 1973.