sent in by David Neller, Teddington, Middlesex)
Long Sutton, as its name suggests, is a
village of Saxon origin. The village is often referred to in
medieval records as 'Sheep Sutton' - an indication of the
mainstay of its farming for so many centuries. It formed part of
the large manor of Crondall (which also included Farnborough and Aldershot, then tiny settlements on poor heathy land). King
Alfred left this entire manor in his will to his nephew, and from
the royal estates it passed into the possession of the bishops of
Winchester. In 979 King Ethelred of unhappy memory granted Long
Sutton by name to Ethelwold, Bishop of Winchester. Domesday Book
makes no mention of any church at Long Sutton, nor does any trace
of a Saxon structure remain but it is fairly certain that there
was a Saxon church on this site, built, in this district of dense
oak forest, of timber and serving as a chapel to the mother
church of Crondall.
This close connection with Winchester has lasted for a thousand
years. The advowson (right to appoint the vicar) must have passed
to the Hospital ot St. Cross in 1445 when Cardinal Beaufort,
Bishop of Winchester, granted the rectory and advowson of
Crondall to St. Cross; in 1875 the advowson of Long Sutton
reverted to the Bishops of
The 'Harrow way', one of the oldest roads in England, ran through
Long Sutton - the first settlement probably owed its origin to
this - and both the primitive timber church and the stone one
that was to succeed it served the spiritual needs of travellers
along the ancient road that passed the South door. After the
murder of Thomas Becket in 1170 this road, leading from the West
of England towards Kent, became one of the branches of the Pilgrims Way and Long Sutton church a stopping
place for pilgrims.
The Church is at present dedicated to "All Saints";
this was a common practice at the Reformation in an attempt to
discourage the cults of local or 'minor' saints. A reference in a
will dated 1534 however proves that the pre.Reformation
dedication was to St. Leonard, of whom little is known except
that he was considered the patron saint of prisoners and that
many miracles were popularly aitributed to his intercession.
The present church is built, like many Hampshire churches, of
flint and rubble with chalk quoin stones at the corners. The nave
and chancel date from the early thirteenth century and the South
chapel may possibly have been added a little later as a pilgrims'
The oldest windows in the church are the two narrow 13th century
lancets at the East end, and the narrow lancet at the East end of
the North wall of the nave. This has had a trefoil ornament added
in the 18th century. The circular opening above the lancets at
the East end was possibly a later addition at some time when the
roof was raised. It was only located and re-opened during the
last century. The single trefoiled windows in the South chapel
are of late 13th century date and one was restored in 1959-60.
The two lancets in the North and South walls of the chancel are
probably 14th century work and the fine window in the North wall
abreast of the bell turret was added in 1340. The West window is
modern. dating from 1862.
The four massive oak pillars supporting
the 15th century bell tower form a striking feature in the body of the
church. This tower, damaged by wet rot, was repaired in 1887 and in 1947
underwent major repairs when many old timbers were removed and steel
girders substituted; this work was carried out at a cost of £1,000. At
this time the bells were taken down and not rehung until 1959 when repairs
to the tower were completed.
The three bells, which are now chimed, not rung, were cast about
1520 by William Knight of Reading and bear his initials. They
carry pre Reformation inscriptions:
'Hai Mari Ful of Gras' on treble
I Believe in God The Fathar' on the second
'Our Fathar Which Art in Heven' on the third
In 1950 the whole of the roof was stripped,
much of the timber which had become infested with beetle removed
and replaced with timber treated against infestation. This
operation together with complete retiling was carried out at a
cost of over £2,000.
In 1970 further repairs to the ancient stonework were found to be
necessary and again the parish had to find a large sum to
preserve the fabric from deterioration.
|The font is probably as old as the church
and may be even older.
It is typical of the
plain early stone fonts that are common in
Hampshire village churches.
A small 'mass clock' was discovered some years ago on the
exterior of the chancel wall, at the South-East corner. This is a
crude sun dial scratched on the stone from which a priest could
tell when it was time for the main services of the day.
The three yew trees in the churchyard are remarkable even in a
county which can show many fine yews, for their size and
This, however, has recently been removed and in 1961 the chapel
was restored as a memorial to the men of the village and of Lord
Wandsworth College who died in the two world wars.
The opportunity has been taken, in the course of this work, to re-open
a blocked 15th century archway in the North wall. The original
purpose of this doorway is uncertain; possibly it gave access to
a hermit's cell which were frequently situated on the North side
of a church. The stonework of this archway visible from inside
the church is modern (l96l); the ancient arch may be seen inside
13th century piscina and the graceful 14th century ogee headed
statue niche now blend happily with the modern altar with its oak
rail and its cross and candlesticks fashioned from yew and holly,
to adorn a chapel of simple dignity and unassuming beauty.
Propped against the base of the arch is one of the
original bell clappers, probably of the same date as the bells, 1520.
Since 1959, when the bells were re-hung, they have been
chimed rather than rung, and so their clappers, being too heavy, were no
longer required once the alteration was made. Luckily this one was rescued
by a villager, though what happened to the other two is a mystery.
High up on the west wall can be seen the Royal Coat
of Arms of George IV. Royal Arms were set up on orders of Henry VIII in
the early part of the 16th century so both clergy and congregation would
look to the King as the head of the church. This lapsed during the 1650s
during the Commonwealth, just after King Charles Ist was executed, and
when Oliver Cromwell ruled the country, but was re-enacted after the
Restoration of the monarchy in 1660; but much later, during the reign of
Queen Victoria, the custom was again discontinued, and this coat of arms
is one of the last to be displayed.
The parish registers date from 1561. Prominent among the early
names in the first register is that of Terry, and the parish
still has cause to remember at least one member of this family,
for in 1737 Stephen Terry established a charity to provide
religious education for 'poor scholars' of the parish. The
charity is nowadays used for more general educational purposes.
The North wall of the Sanctuary just behind the
altar walls can be found a small stone niche or opening, this is an
aumbry, and it was built to hold the reserved Holy Sacrament, that is the
silver chalice and plate containing the blessed bread and wine; and the
round hole at the top probably held some form of light bracket, in those
days normally candle or a reed light or maybe a small oil lamp in later
years, as it was only 80 years ago that Long Sutton was supplied with
The aumbry was discovered about four years ago when
replastering work was being carried out.
The massive medieval chest will continue to occupy a prominent
place in the chapel. It is of unusual interest, being considered
by experts to be as old as the church itself and probably
contemporary with the chest in the library of Winchester
Cathedral. Its great length is due to its original function of
containing vestments and altar frontals. After the Reformation it
was used as a repository for the parish registers and other
|Certain restorations were carried out
in the late nineteenth century. Heavy external buttresses were built to
support the flint walls, the present chancel arch was inserted and in 1909
part of the South chapel converted into a vestry by an oak screen.
Entering the church through the modern
porch which covers the 14th century South door, the visitor will
see an archway directly facing him. This leads into the new
vestry which is worthy of careful notice. The restoration of the
South chapel involved removing the old vestry, and providing
another. The present vestry has been built during the years 1960
and l96l entirely by voluntary labour by members of the British
Legion from this village and district and offers striking proof
that the spirit of the men who raised these walls seven centuries
ago is not yet extinct.
From 1922 until fairly recently the Church was used as a place of
worship by the boys of Lord Wandsworth College, founded in this
village at the time of the First World War; though the College
now uses its own hall as a chapel, it is represented in the
parish church at certain services.
|The pulpit is probably from the Jacobean period that is it was made in the 17th century with alterations
and additions over the years