ST. NICHOLAS, to
whom this Church is dedicated, was every lost man's
friend and every orphan's father, the champion of the weak and
distressed, the patron of merchants, travellers and scholars, and the Santa
Claus of children. He has more churches dedicated to him than any other
Saint not mentioned in the Bible.
This Church was built in its original form
a few years after the murder of Thomas a Becket in Canterbury
Cathedral. When the Magna Carta was signed in 1215 the first
stones had weathered, and the nave arcades have stood their
ground ever since. The village of Longparish was known in those
days as Middletune, the name under which it had appeared in the
Domesday Book (1086), and the Church was in the gift of Wherwell Abbey, a Benedictine Nunnery founded in 986.
The nave arcades, each of four bays with circular columns, are
the chief features remaining of the original Church. The old roof
timbers were heavily attacked by death watch beetle, and the
whole Church is now very much as it was after its restoration in the middle of the
Nineteenth Century when it was given a new roof.
It is a fine building in the Early English style, with a
beautiful perpendicular tower at the West end, divided into three
stages with an embattled parapet. It is one of a group of late
gothic towers of a local type, similar to those at Barton Stacey and Micheldever, and was built
inside the walls of the old Church. The original plaster was
found recently continuing on the arcade wall beyond the face of
the tower wall. Traces were also found of a balcony across the West end of the Church
where there was probably a barrel organ or musical box. This
accounts for the unusually tall arch in the tower. The ringing
floor would have been behind
Until 1936 the tower contained five bells, all by Richard Wells
of Aldbourne (1791). These were rehung in 1897 and recast in 1936
when a sixth bell was added. On the South wall of the belfry is
the following inscription:
To call the folk to church on time, we chime,
When mirth and joy are on the wing, we ring
When we lament a passing soul, we toll
The main South Doorway, with its two-centred arch, dates from
The windows, all but one of which are of stained glass, are
mostly modern, although surrounding all those in the chancel are
features of Thirteenth and Fourteenth Century design. The main
East window by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, has three trefoiled lights
The small window at the West end of the North aisle is shaped in
traditional English style. Yet perhaps the most interesting
window is now only an outline above the South wall. Uncovered
during the recent restoration it is one of the old clerestory
It was when the tiled roofs were put on the Church in 1853 that
these clerestory windows were lost. The structure of the old
roofs, which were flat and covered with lead, had been ravaged by
death watch beetle, and the roofs which replaced them needed a
steeper pitch. This steepening of the pitch of the roof partly closed the original window above the chancel arch, so that all
that now remains is the apex trefoil
The pointed arch opening to the organ chamber is thought to be
old. The organ itself, however, was taken from a private house
towards the end of the Nineteenth Century, the transept being
built to house it.
The work of the Chancel arch is Twelfth or Thirteenth Century but
entirely retooled. A fine screen, which once separated the
chancel from the nave is believed to have been damaged beyond
repair by Cromwell's soldiers. The parliamentary army may have used the Church as a
stable and imprisoned the Rector as they did at Longstock.
This rood screen was crudely restored in 1850 and finally removed
in 1958. A small piece of it has been preserved on the cover of
the lovely Renaissance Font which was found neglected in the
In the wall at the East end of the South aisle is a Piscina. This
was used for the cleansing of the sacred vessels and indicates
that there was once a second altar in the Church.
There are some interesting tablets concerning the Widmore family,
whose charity still provides blankets for the poor. In the South West corner of the Church there is an inscription.
"Under this stone lies John Widmore, Esqr. . . . who
died 12 March, 1757.
Aged 59 years."
His remains were found in 1957 when the floor of the South aisle
was being relaid, whereupon he was given a second burial service
by the Rector, two centuries after his first.
Behind the altar Sophia, an 8-year-old girl of the Widmore family,
is buried, and her memorial stone can just be seen.
The monument on the South wall at the top of the chancel was once
thought to form part of an Easter Sepulchre for the deposit of
offerings. But it is on the wrong side of the Church for this.
On the North wall are memorials to the Hawker family. The
sporting diaries of Colonel Peter Hawker, who died in 1853, have
made the names of Longparish and Longparish House known to every
sportsman with a love
for rod and gun.
The Hawker window, designed by Francis Skeat, was given by Lieut.
Col. Tyrell Hawker and his sister in memory of their brother.
Major Lanoe George Hawker, v.c., D.S.O., R.F.C., shot down in
1916. At the dedication of this window Air Marshal Sir Robert
Saundby said that his example became enshrined in the traditions of the Royal Air Force and that of
him it could be said,
"His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, 'This was a man"
The Parish Registers go back to 1654, the first of them having
baptisms, marriages and burials from then until 1759. In 1655 the
burial of "the Child of a wadring pson" was chronicled;
and in 1731 "a travailing old woman, nicknamed Mother Stump."
A craving for sermons in the Eighteenth Century is illustrated by
an agreement made at Longparish in 1726 and recorded in one of
the registers between the Vicar and the Vestry, the Vestry
undertaking to give the Vicar an extra new seat, and he "covenanting to give 14 sermons in
the afternoon on full satisfaction." In a niche at the side
of the pulpit stood an hour-glass which no doubt timed the
A major restoration began in 1956 and was completed in two years.
The exterior stonework had been worn away by long exposure to
wind and rain, and the East wall, had it not been made good,
might soon have fallen out completely. All the outside walls were made waterproof and
the thick cement plaster, which covered the walls inside the
Church and which hindered their breathing, was replaced by a thin
lime plaster. Victorian stencilling and the texts in blue, green, red and gold (completed
in 1884) which decorated the whole interior of the Church were
cleaned off and the side aisle pews removed because of dry rot.
By 1984 the roof tiles had deteriorated to such an extent that
complete replacement was required. So far, the Nave and Aisle
roofs have been replaced, together with the smaller roofs over
the boiler house and organ chamber. We hope to carry out further work to the Tower roof, and
to repair the North wall buttresses during 1987.
Having passed through the lych gate on your way from the
churchyard you can see the remains of the village stocks which
were used in the Middle Ages for the punishment of petty
offenders. The culprit sat on a bench with his ankles through the
holes, and there he stayed for as long as was thought fit. Stocks
were established in every village after a petition from the
Commons to Edward HI; hut there are very few examples remaining.
On the road to Andover, and within the Longparish boundary, is a
momument erected in 1826 in Dead Mans Plack Copse to the memory
of Earl Athelwold. He, tradition has it, was murdered there in
963 by King Edgar for the sake of his wife Elfrida, whom the King