The Parish Church ot Whitsbury stands on
the hill on the East side of the village, in its well-tended
churchyard, in which are some magnificent trees. It is a
beautiful spot with lovely views, particularly to the South West.
Leonard was the saint of prisoners, and his story is told just
inside the entrance to the Church and in Appendix III of this
There is no doubt that there has been a Church, or Chapel, in
Whitsbury since the 12th Century, but there appears to be little
information about the building until early in the 18th Century,
when Thomas Durnford, the Incumbent, repaired it at his own
expense. It was restored in the early 19th Century - Colt Hoare's
plan shows three arches between the nave and the chancel - again
in 1878 & 1963.
In 1877 the Rector, Rev. Fortescue Richard Purvis, and James
Nutburn, Churchwarden, applied for a faculty to The Right
Reverend Father in God Edward Harold by Divine permission Lord
Bishop of Winchester for various
repairs and alterations to the Church of Whitsbury in the County
of Southampton. These alterations were:-
"to raise the walls and Tower; to
put new roofs; to restore the old windows and insert new ones; to
restore the grave under the old chestnut tree; to raise and
repave the Church; to make dry areas around the walls outside; to
build a vestry; to close the North and South doors in the Tower;
to put a new ringing floor in the Tower; to remove from their
present positions to other parts of the said Church and
Churchyard such Tombstones and Monuments as will have to be
removed in carrying out the said works; to remove all monumental Tablets from the outside to the inside of the said
Church; to remove the gallery now in the said Church and provide
a new Pulpit, Reading Desk, Lectern, and Font ... ..."
In the new plan the accommodation was:-
There are shown to be pews in the Chancel.
In the Nave: 9 pews on the left - four to a pew
14 pews on the right - four to a pew
5 back pews on the right for children, five to a pew
A faculty was granted in 1938 for Electric Light to be installed.
It is interesting that in this faculty the approximate date of
the Church is given as Circa 1100.
On the plan in "Modern History of South Wiltshire" by
Sir Richard Colt Hoare, three arches are shown between the nave
and the chancel. No North or South windows in the chancel, no
vestry, and the main entrance in the base of the bell tower was
in the West wall as at present. This was in the time of R.F.
Purvis (1824 -1868).
Basically the Church can be described as: A small parish church
consisting of Chancel with North Vestry, Nave and West Tower. The
walls are mostly of flint faced with stone dressings but on the
South side of the Nave it is partly flint and partly brick. The
roofs are clad with plain clay tiles.
Outside on the South wall of the Church are two Sundials or Mass
dials, engraved into the stonework. These are sometimes called
"Scratch dials". There is no upright piece so a stick
must be put into the centre hole for a
shadow to be cast.
The Tower is of brick and houses nine bells arranged for chiming;
these were cast by Mears of Whitechapel in 1878. There was an
older bell cast in 1623 (the incised 3 was made by reversing an E),
which was sold by the P.C.C. to the Parish ol Didling in Sussex
in 1979 for £200.
The windows are in Early English style. Fragments of earlier
windows, in the entrance, are probably of the fourteenth or
fifteenth Century. The East window is a triple lancet, with
pierced heads. The Nave has a boarded ceiling and the Chancel a
painted panelled ceiling. A moulded arch connects Chancel and
Vestry. The Chancel arch is also moulded and rests on corbel
As one enters the Church one is at the base of the bell-tower and
it is difficult to realize that at one time there were doors in
the North and South walls, but apparently this was so. One is
faced with five steps down leading into this charming, very clean,
uncluttered and well-preserved little Church. On the right one
can read the story of Saint Leonard and also there is the list of
Incumbents and Patrons going back to 1307. On the left there is a
ladder going up to the Bell Tower and under it what could be an
old font, as apparently a new one was put in the church in 1877.
Experts at Salisbury Museum and some other experts express doubt
as to this being a font. There are also pieces of stone masonry
which appear to have come from the old windows when these were
replaced in 1877. There is an interesting engraved plaque of
slate on the wall which is worth recording here:-
"The late Charles De la faye Esq
of Wichbury bequeathed two Hundred Pounds, old South Seas Annuity
Stock for the Benefit of the Poor of this Parish. The interest to
be laid out annually on
Phyfick or Surgery for the recovery of Industrious, diftrefs'd
Objects when disabled from work by Sickness or Accidents. If but
few should need this relief, and the Annual produce be not
expended within any one year, the overplus shall be apply'd to ye
putting out of a poor Child Apprentice. This Benefaction is not
intended to free the Parish from giving all necessary assistance
to the difstrefsed or disabled poor and is not to be continu'd to
any object longer than three months". (No date)
In 1911 the Trust consisted of £226. 6s. 2d.
Consols held by the official Trustees, producing £5. 13s. 0d. a
year. It appears that the administration of this Charity solely
devolves on the Rector of Whitsbury and one other trustee
appointed by the Parish Meeting. In March 1985 the fund was £117.93p.
The capital is held by the Charity Commission.
On the South wall of the Bell Tower, below the window, an
engraved slate states:
"Within this Church, by the
Remains of his late Wife, Lieth the body of Charles De la Faye
Esq. who died Dec. 11th 1762. Aged 86. He was 40 years (in
several employments) a faithful, diligent, disinterested servant
to the Crown, joint secretary to the Lord Justices of Ireland, in
the second year of King George the First, afterwards sole
secretary to the several Regencys of Great Britain appointed in
that reign while His Majesty resided in Hanover. As his
preferment was entirely owing to God's blessing on his endeavours
to deserve it, not to the unmerited favour of the great, nor to
lower despicable arts of cunning, this memorial may remind his neighbours that piety, honesty and industry will
secure a fair character, a comfortable subsistence here, and
endless felicity hereafter."
Charles De la Faye was the son of Lewis De
la Faye, who came to England in the late 1670's as a Huguenot
emigre and was employed as translator of the French edition of
the London Gazette.
On a wooden board above the window on the North wall is written:
"The Incorporated Society for the
building of Churches. Granted
£35 AD 1877 towards reseating and restoring this Church. All the
seats are for the full use of the Parishioners according to Law".
There is a Roll of Honour of Men who served
in the 1914-1918 war, on which there are 28 names.
Descend the five steps into the Nave and on the left is a stone
font, probably 1878, and one sees a small brass plaque on the
"To the Glory of
And in Loving Memory of their daughter
Born 10th Fob 1924 Died 27 Nov 1961
This church was restored and refurnished
in 1963 by William and Ivy Hill"
This is when the pews in the chancel were
removed. William Hill was famous for his lifelong commitment to
Walking up the aisle between the pews we see two windows on each
side, leaded with diamond panes of tinted glass, almost certainly
put in, in place of older ones, in 1878. There is a carved oak
pulpit on a stone base on the left and a carved oak lectern on
the right. There are also some large memorial plaques on the walls; details of these later. Proceed up two steps into the
Chancel. Here there is a small window in the North wall of leaded
tinted glass and in the South wall a larger window with the lower
portion picturing in muted colours a scene of Christ with two
Apostles at the Last Supper. This is:
"In Memory of Rev.
Fortescue Richard Purvis, Rector. Died 1885.
And his Wife Louisa Harriet Eyre Purvis, Born Dec. 13th 1827,
Died Aug. 9th 1915".
The East window is of triple lancet
construction with pierced heads; it depicts
the Risen Christ with eleven Apostles:
"In Memory of Rev.
Purvis, Rector Died 1868. Aged 79."
The Communion Table is of heavy
construction, clothed in beautiful material; it is furnished with
a silver cross and two silver candlesticks. Just to the right of
the altar, let into the South wall, is an attractive Piscina;
this is possibly 15th Century and was used for carrying away
water which had been used in rinsing the chalice. Also in the
Chancel we have a Priest's seat and prayer desk in oak.
There is an excellent organ by Willis which Professor Nikolaus
Pevsner describes as "remarkably well designed".
The Church Plate consists of:- A Silver Chalice and Paten given
in memory of John Starr in 1673. There are also a tankard-shaped
plated flagon and a small Mazer bowl of Arbor Vitae mounted in
Silver (15th Century) The bowl (stained pearwood) is a 17th
Century replacement and was cut down to fit the mount. It was
given by Rev. Richard Fortescue Purvis.
Passing through an archway in the North wall of the Chancel we
come into the Vestry. On the North wall a plaque stating:-
"In a Vault Beneath
lie the remains of
Richard Fortescue Purvis BCL
With other members of his family
44 years Rector of Whitsbury"
There is a tall cupboard with drawers
beneath and a small 18th Century table. There is also a framed
lithograph of the Old Church before 1877. Here we find a large
heavy metal (? cast iron) Box with a handle on each end and an
embossed top depicting two lions' heads. It has the date 1813
Bramshaw Foundry and also Rev. H.L. Rector, D.H.C. Warden. H.L.
would be Henry Longden, who was Rector 1777 - 1824. There was a
law at this time stating that each church should have an iron
chest for the Registers and Church Plate.
The old Registers are held in the Registrar's office and consist
|Baptisms - One book all entries
||1714 - 1750
|Weddings - One book Baptisms &
||1780 - 1812
|Funerals - One book Marriages
||1750 - 1780
Registers in the Iron Box at present (Jan
1. Dummy Register from 1877 - 1978 (original in Registrar's
2. Burials May 26th 1813 to July 1985
3. Confirmations July 1971 to July 1983
4. Baptisms May 16th 1813 to Dec 1985
"In the Parish of Whitsbury in the County of Wiltshire and
5. Burial Services June 1980 to July 1985
6. Marriages April 197« to Dec 1985
Also in the Vestry is an interesting table of Fees payable dated
|Burial (in ordinary grave)
|Churching of Women
are forbidden, but Certificate Is.0d.
|Certificate of Marriage
including Id. Stamp duty
PARSONS AND THEIR PATRONS
Since the early 14th Century the Advowson, or right to appoint
the rector, of Whitsbury has been in the hands of two distinct
groups. Firstly, the Priors of Breamore Priory and secondly,
after the closure of the monasteries by Henry VIII, a series of
laymen, beginning with the Marquess of Exeter in 1537.
The notes which follow provide further information on the patrons
and the men they appointed - the Incumbents,
BREAMORE PRIORY. The site of the Priory
was adjoining the River Avon, North of Breamore Mill. The
foundation of the Priory by Richard de Redvers (or Rivers) was in
1135 during the reign of Henry I. The Manor of Whitsbury is
mentioned in confirmation charters of Henry I, Henry II, Richard
I and John to the Abbey of Reading, but in spite of this the
Abbey never seems to have possessed the Church, as it was granted,
with the tithes and all land adjacent to it, to the Priory of
Breamore at the time of its foundation by Ingelramus Apostolicus,
and his gift was confirmed by Henry I, The Advowson remained in
the possession of the Priory of Breamore till the Dissolution of
the Monasteries (1536), when it passed to the Crown.
In November of that year the site was granted, with the Manors of
Breamore and Bulborn, to Henry Marquess of Exeter and his wife
Gertrude. He was grandson of Edward IV; Henry VIII feared his
possible claim to the throne and had him beheaded in 1538. In
1545 the Advowson and the rectory were granted to John Broxhoime
and John Bellowe. In 1557 George Penruddock Esq. was Patron. At
the visitation held 30th Sept 1575 there is a note against Whitsbury: "Vicarius decessit in Gallia"
(ie: the Vicar
died in France). Sir George Penruddocke died in 1581 holding the rectory of
passed on the death of his son, Edward, in 1613 to John, his son
and heir. John remained in possession of the Advowson until 1626,
when he conveyed it to John Gray and William Masters. The
Advowson and Rectory apparently next passed to Sir William
Doddington whose heir was retained as Patron in 1645-50. At that
time the Vicar was receiving the profits of the rectory for life
by the gift of Sir William. The wife of Lord Robert Brooke (Patron
1676) was Ann Doddington
(1640-1690) and their daughter married Charles Duke of Manchester.
The Advowson followed the descent of Rockbourne until 1822, when
it was purchased by Admiral John Child Purvis, on whose death in
1825 his son. Vice
Admiral John Brett Purvis succeeded. It remained in the Purvis
family until 1879, when it was purchased by Edward Edwards, who
gave it to his daughter, Ellena, in 1898 on her marriage to
Commander A.B. Purvis RN. She held it till it was passed to the
present Patron, W.H.A. Purvis Esq. of Lee-on-Solent. Edward
Edwards of Kidbrooke Lodge, Kent, presented the school house to
Whitsbury and the peal of bells. He died 24th September 1903.
Radulfus, presbiter (priest, presumably Vicar) of Whitsbury, gave
manuscripts of Virgil (Georgics and Bucolics), Horace and Juvenal
to Reading Abbbey temp. Henry III. (Colt Hoare). Thomas Starr
signed the Oath of Protestation in 1642. He is said to have
"preacheth twice every Lord's Day. In 1713 Thomas Durnford
was the Incumbent of Rockbourne and a year later also held the
living of Whitsbury. According to an entry in the Register of Rockbourne: ".... he was a learned and good man, and in his
time rebuilt the parsonage house (Rockbourne) and by his
direction the Churches of each place were seated and repaired,
and the Chancels done at his expense ...." Mr. Durnford
received the tithes of both Whitsbury and Rockbourne. He
apparently found the Rockbourne Parsonage house too small for his
fourteen children and built West Park, where he lived until 1736 (died 1747).
He was followed by Richard Tomkyn in 1748 who also held both
livings and apparently neglected them. He employed a Curate, John
Morgan, who was Curate for the two parishes for about 32 years (1747-1779).
He kept NO records! He died at Whitsbury Oct 1783. His
gravestone is marked M. 1783 and lies halfway along the Chancel
on the South side of the Church.
Henry Longden was the incumbent from 1777 to 1824, also Rector or Rockbourne.
On 1st July 1984 the Parish of Whitsbury was transferred from the
Diocese of Winchester to the Diocese of Salisbury and to the
Chalke Deanery. John Hathaway was inducted on 11 th July 1985 at
Damerham to the Western Downland Parishes of Damerham, Martin,
Rockbourne and Whitsbury. He and
his wife Barbara live in a new rectory built at Damerham.
MEMORIALS IN THE CHURCH
There are a number of Memorial Plaques in the Church; some of
these are quite large and ornate, mostly of marble or marble on
slate, but one of slate alone. A number have an embossed anchor
on them, showing the Naval background of those commemorated.
John Brett Purvis
Vice Admiral of the Red
Magistrate & Deputy
Lieutenant of the County
Died 1857 (aged 71)
Also of Renira Charlotte
Widow of Above - Died 1869 Aged 76
Elizabeth Helen third
Rev. Richard Fortescue and
Elizabeth Helen Purvis
Born 1837 - Died 1863
Lieut. Home Purvis,
youngest son of Rev. Richd. Fortescue and
Helen Purvis Born 28th Aug 1835 & died 23rd Jan 1857
Also of the two following children
Home Born 2nd Nov 1826 Died 28th Sept 1827
and Elizabeth Born 25th Mar 1825 Died 26th Sept 1834
Bicknell John Collin M.A.
Rector 1904- 1916
Rev. Richard Fortescue
J.P. for the Counties of Hants & Wilts
Rector 44 years
Born 1789 Died 1868
Elizabeth Helen, wife of above
Born 1796 Died 1885
John Child Purvis
Admiral of the Blue Squadron
of His Majesty's Fleet
Died 1825 Aged 78 years
Vice Admiral John Child
Third son of Richard Fortescue & Elizabeth Helen Purvis
Died 1904 Aged 72 years
Capt Archibald Bellenden
Died 22nd Dec. 1926. Aged 61 years
On the floor a flat
"The Remains of Mrs.
Elizabeth De la Faye who died in the year 1742.
"Likewise of Charles De la Faye Esq who died in 1762.
"Also the body of Mrs. Margaret Starr, of this parish, who
died 7th Aug
"Also of John Starr, of this parish, Gent, who died 24 May
1673, aged 42
years. And of Mary his wife, who died April 1728 aged 92 years."
Nave North Side
Rector 1940- 1968
(This memorial is of
Welsh slate engraved by Will Carter,
a distinguished typographer and stonecarver.)
Edward Henry Gage
Lambert Capt. R.N.
Died 16th Nov. 1872
Nave South Side
Peter Templeman Esq.
Son of Rev. Giles Templeman
of WimborneSt. Giles
Died 1824. Aged 65
of Kidbrooke Lodge, Kent
who presented the School House to Whitsbury
and the peal of bells to this Church
Died 24th Sept. 1903
Peter Templeman Esq.
Died 1820. Aged 67
On the floor a flat stone inscribed:
"Sacred to the
memory of Peter Templeman Esq. (late of the parish) who
died .5th July 1824, aged 65 years. Also of Elizabeth his Wife,
13th Dec. 1820, aged 67 years".
THE STORY OF