CHURCH OF ST SWITHUN
The church of St Swithun can easily be missed if you do not keep an eye open for it, the only sign is maybe a glimpse through the trees or the lych gate along the main road to Winchester. There is nowhere to park a car on this busy road so visitors must be careful.It is set in woodland with the water of Hyde Bourne encircling it, a favourite spot for Moorhens. Seasonal daffodils and comfrey grace the banks and a gurgling sound can be heard as the river drops over a small waterfall and passes under the lych gate.
The church probably dates from the time of Canute (944-1035) and it preserves in the North and West side of the nave and the West part of the chancel the plan and the walling of an earlier Saxon church, dating from the early part of the 11th Century. The Saxon masonry consists of limestone that was quarried at Binstead on the Isle of Wight and shipped over.
The South West tower is sturdily built and is crowned with a wooden belfrey that was added in the 13th century as was the South wall of the nave and the extension to the chancel.
The 15th century work includes the nave roof, North and South windows and buttresses. During the 19th century some restoration was done on the church which included the widening of the North chancel to accommodate the new organ, the South porch was also added.
During the 20th century work was done on the watery and insecure foundations and in 1910 William Walker who was famous for his diving to check the foundations of nearby Winchester Cathedral, visited the church to offer his advice.
When the visitor enters the church today there is an air of calm and tranquility about the place. The classic simplicity of the glass inner doors that are framed in American Oak are found, these were hung in 1987.
Above the doorway of the vestry is the 11th century Rood that is carved in stone on what was originally the outer West wall above a doorway from Saxon times. The Rood was badly damaged during the 16th century and represents Christ flanked by our Lady and St John, while above the head of Christ can be seen the Hand of God reaching out from a cloud.
Originally on the floor but now on the North wall of the Chancel is a fine brass that commemorates John Kent who was a scholar from Winchester and who died in 1434. He wears a long simple gown that depicts the dress of the time and has a medallion around his neck, his hands are joined as though in prayer and a letter scroll rises from his lips that when translated reads "My song shall be always of the loving kindness of the Lord"., while below is an inscription that tells us that he attended Winchester College.
St Swithun's has three medieval bells hung between king-post frames that are supported by massive timber work. These were cast by a foundryman that was attached to Chertsey Abbey at Wokingham Bell Foundry.
The Treble weighs 4½ cwt and is dated 1380