The Church of St
A BRIEF HISTORY
The Church, dedicated to St. Nicholas, is a very striking example of a
church built upon a large mound almost circular in construction. This
particular mound had probably been sacred ground for centuries so what
could have been more fitting than the building of a first Christina
church upon the place hallowed by the people for untold generations? In
all probability St. Wilfrid dedicated a church here before 670AD.
The present building therefore probably has an ancestry that was ancient
when the Normal builders came in 1120 leaving behind them the now
re-used west doorway, with its zigzag on the arch. Later changes were
wrought in the thirteenth century through the church’s association with
the Manor of Wickham and the Uvedale family so that by the mid 19th
century it looked as shown in the illustration below.
The Victorian era then saw a fifteen year period of ‘makeover’. The
Norman doorway was moved about ten feet to the west and fitted into the
new tower, the north transept was rebuilt and the exterior walls clad in
flints. The interior did not escape attention, or ‘spoilation’ as it
underwent considerable alteration, including the introduction of an
organ in the South Chapel and uniform seating.
More recent internal changes took place in the 1950s with alterations to
the chancel and creation of the priest’s vestry. The organ was removed
to its current position in 1957 from the South Chapel enabling its
re-dedication as a Lady Chapel in 1961. This chapel has received further
attention with the installation of engraved glass panels and doors and a
lighting corona in 2004.
The most significant features of the church as it is today are listed in
The aisleless nave, chancel and North Transept and South Chapel (now the
Lady Chapel) are Early English style and significant 13th Century
features are the North doorway in the chancel and the archway to the
The church has a Victorian interior with several wall monuments of 18th
and 19th Century. The Chancel has remains of a 15th Century table tomb.
The pews are square ended, panelled with solid backs, all of Victorian
The pulpit is oak panelled and dates from the 1960s. Carved heads are
worked into the terminations of the arch between the nave and the
chancel, immediately behind and above the pulpit and lectern.
Hanging in the Nave (north wall) is a painting of the Holy Family by
Guercino from 17th Century Italian School. This was restored in 1994. ‘A
Rest during Flight into Egypt” after Luca Giordano (1632-1705), which
hangs on the south wall, was restored between 2001 and 2003 and was hung
here in 2004.
Inner West Doors: panelled wood with 4 carvings depicting from left to
1) St. Nicholas, patron saint of sailors and children, 2) the Uvedale
Arms, 3) William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, and 4) the William of
Wykeham Coat of Arms with the motto “Manners Makyth Man”.
On the West Wall, to the right of these inner doors, is a 20th Century
oak ‘shrine’ to those who lost their lives in the First World War. On
the other side of the door there is a memorial plaque to those who died
in the Second World War.
The South Transept dates from 17th Century and contains the notable
alabaster tomb of 1615 (Sir William Uvedale) with classical details,
arched canopy, male and female effigies and nine kneeling figures of
their four sons and five daughters. The octagonal Font, has a fine
painted wooden canopy and a wooden figurine of the Virgin Mary, the
latter only being displayed on special occasions. Also in the South
Transept is a chest, and a display relating to William of Wykeham. In
2003 the church was given the J.L. Duysen upright piano which now stands
The oak screen to the vestry was given by a local family in thanksgiving
for the safe return of four sons from the Second World War.
South Chapel/Lady Chapel: The moving of the organ (see overleaf) made
room for the creation of the Lady Chapel, which was dedicated in 1961
and the East Window depicts the Annunciation and was designed by
Christopher Webb. To the right of this window is an ancient piscine in
use in the 13th Century. The south wall has a fine wall monument of 1569
(William Uvedale) with strap work and also a stone coffin lid, probably
13th century and from the grave of a child. In 2004 the re-ordering of
the Lady Chapel was completed with the installation a lighting corona
and engraved glass panels and doors. These latter were designed and
engraved by Tracey Sheppard depicting references in Psalms 46, 27, 148
Windows: With the exception of those in the Lady Chapel, the cusped 2
and 3-light windows date largely from the Victorian period, the finest
examples of Victorian Stained Glass work being the East Window, which
depicts the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, and the North Window
depicting in symbolic form the ascended Christ in glory with four panels
below: The Epiphany; the Healing of blind Bartamaeus; the Blessing of
the Children and the Last Supper.
The Floors: the chancel and sanctuary are in stone flags, apparently
dating from the 1940s, though the Chancel floor was restored and
levelled with Portland stone in 1950. The South Chapel floor appears to
be of recent origin, and incorporates a number of ledger stones. The
South Transept has also been re-paved using ledger stones. The nave is
paved with clay tiles, some of which have worn slightly.
The Organ, built in 1874 in the South (Lady) Chapel, was moved to its
current position in the Gallery at the West end of the Church in 1957.
It was re-built by Martin Renshaw in 1978 incorporating much pipework,
casework, console and soundboards from three redundant organs, [two of
which were built by William Hill] from St. Faith’s, Wandsworth,
Christchurch, Dover and St. Stephen’s, South Lambeth.
Carved heads are worked into the terminations of the glazed archway
between the organ loft and bell tower.
The Bells: the original peal of five bells were cast by R. Wells of
Aldbourne, Wiltshire, between 1767 and 1772. They were re-hung and
restored in 1890 by John Taylor and Co of Loughborough and augmented
with a 6th bell, a new treble bell. They were restored and re-hung again
in 1973 by John Taylor & Co. The bells are inscribed.
The Clock: Mechanism by Gillett & Co of Croydon, dated 1888 drives clock
faces on south and west faces of the Tower.
The church of St Nicholas prior
The West Door and round-headed arch with chevron frieze was re-set from
the earlier building and dates back to Norman times, and a sculptured
badge (Sagittarius) of King Stephen is on the left capitol.
The Walls of Hampshire flint and Bath stone dressings are a major
characteristic of the outside of the church today, along with the tower
and broached shingle spire, all of which were added in the period of
virtual re-building in 1862 by F & H Francis. There are stepped
buttresses, lancets and Decorated tracery to the gables of the chancel
and transepts. In the 17th Century the South Transept was added and
still consists of the old mellow bricks of that period.
Carved heads are worked into the terminations of the hood-moulds of the
following windows: the Chancel, the South Transept, one of the Nave’s
south facing windows, the Tower’s window to the organ loft, and the
North Transept. On other windows there are carved foliated motifs.
The Roof is of clay peg tiles, except for the South Chapel which is of
The Church Room: built by Jno Croad in 1974. It was designed by Brandt,
Potter & Hare to blend into the ancient church and the octagonal roof
matches the Victorian shingle spire.
The Churchyard is still in use and contains a number of old tombs,
several of them box tombs. Eight tombs are listed.
The Churchyard also contains a Garden of Remembrance created in 1993,
and the War Memorials of both Wickham and Knowle.
M.C. Retallack: Wickham (S. Hampshire) and its Church. Home Words,
R.A.A. Hirst (Ed): The Parish Church of St. Nicholas, Wickham, 1990
B. Tappenden: A History of Wickham, Wickham 1996