Churches in Kingsclere Hundred
The Church of ST MARY, KINGSCLERE
The church of St Mary consists of a chancel 43ft. 4in. by 20ft. 6in., with a vestry on the north side, south chapel 44ft. 9in. by 18ft. 4in., central tower 20ft. 9in. square, north and south transepts each 10ft. 3in. by 17ft. 2in., and a nave 66ft. 6in. by 12ft. 7in., all the measurements being internal.
The general plan of the church at its first building, 1130-40, consisted of nave, chancel and transepts as at present, with a low tower over the crossing, the chancel being shorter than the present one. About 1270 the chancel was lengthened and a south chapel was added, opening to the chancel and south transept. In the 15th century this chapel was made equal in width to the south transept, and new windows were inserted in various places, and the tower was raised, according to an illustration, which shows the building as it stood in 1847. In 1848 a large amount of restoration was done, including the facing of all walls with flint, the rubble being cut back to a depth of 9in. to make room for this except at the quoins. Some old mullion stones and pieces of moulding are used to bond the flint facing. The tower was altered and copies of 12th century windows were inserted in the place of the 15th century ones. Several other windows were inserted or restored in different parts of the building, and a new vestry doorway was built.
The vestry is modern, but part of the doorway leading into it from the chancel shows that one existed in the same position at an earlier date.
The tracery of the east window of the chancel is new and consists of three cinquefoiled lights with three cinquefoiled circles in the head. The internal jambs of 1280 are hollow chamfered and shafted at the angles with moulded capitals and bases. The rear arch is richly moulded and has a scroll-moulded label, the carved head stops of which are almost destroyed.
The easternmost window in the north wall of the chancel is of the same date, a single lancet with chamfered external jambs and plain internal splays with a moulded rear arch having a moulded label returned at the springing.
The second north window near the west end of the chancel is composed of two uncusped lights under a two centred arch, the spandrel being filled up with flint, and in the middle is inserted a small 12th century stone ornamented with incised diaper work. The internal jambs and rear arch are very similar to those of the east window.
The vestry doorway between these two windows has modern chamfered jambs and a pointed hollow chamfered arch of 13th century date, with a scroll and bead label having returned ends.
The vestry has two small lights in the north wall and an outer doorway in the west.
The south arcade of the chancel is of three bays with piers composed of four engaged round shafts having moulded bases and capitals. The arches are two centred and have two hollow chamfered orders.
The east and two south windows of the south chapel have each three cinquefoil lights under a four centred arch with a moulded label of late 15th century date, and near the west end of the south wall is a late 13th century doorway with double chamfered jambs and slightly segmental arch of the same section. The arch between the chapel and the south transept is similar to those of the arcade above described, but is wider and nearly semi-circular, having been widened at the widening of the south chapel. The jambs have no moulded bases but stop abruptly on chamfered plinths. The four crossing arches are semicircular and of two orders, their jambs having been chamfered and cut away, and the abaci are modern throughout; they probably had jamb shafts originally, but these have all been destroyed. The eats arch is plain towards the chancel, the outer order setting out only a few inches beyond the inner, but is of two enriched orders with a label on the west, the inner order having a series of flat chevrons terminating in roll joints, while the outer has a large roll and a border zigzag.
The north and south arches have a large edge roll between the orders on the faces towards the crossing, but are otherwise plain, and the west arch, which is completely renewed on the west face, has a roll to the inner order on both faces, and on the outer order a diaper of two rows of four-leaved flowers on the west side, with a billet label.
The abaci continue as strings to the north and south walls, and beneath them runs a band of most effective ornament, consisting of a series of spiral coils branching off on either side of a chequered stem.
In a like position under the abaci of the east arch, and returned westward on both sides, is a band of scale ornament in modern stonework.
The small round-headed windows of the second stage of the tower, two on each face, light the crossing, which has a good modern painted and gilt wooden ceiling.
The east window of the north transept, of the same date as those in the chancel, was blocked up in 1848, and until quite recently only the inner jambs were showing. Now it has been opened out and has two pointed lights with a pierced spandrel over, the tracery being all new, but a few old stones which were found showed this to have been the original design.
The north window of the north transept was restored in 1848, being substituted for a smaller window to match the corresponding one in the opposite transept, but the internal jambs belong to a 15th century window and have shafts with moulded capitals and a moulded rear arch. This transept is the burial place of the Woodruffe family.
The south window of the south transept is of 15th century date and has three cinquefoil lights and perpendicular tracery. The jambs are sunk and chamfered outside but plain inside. At the time when there was a gallery in this transept the south window was not in the centre of the wall, but this was corrected when the gallery was removed in 1848.To the east of this window is a small piscine with chamfered jambs and four centred head. The basin is missing.
The widows of the nave have been altered considerably at different times. Prior to the 1848 restoration there were two 12th century windows in the north wall, and below the eastern of the two an inserted window of late date. The south wall had four windows, three being of 12th century date with a lower one of later date, as in the north wall. In 1848 these lower windows were closed, and one north window (the present second from the east) and three south windows were allowed to remain. For the sake of more light and uniformity an extra window was added near the east end of the south wall and three others in the north wall, all copies of the 12th century windows, which have plain semicircular heads and wide splayed jambs with a large edge roll on the inside.
The west window is a copy (1848) of Norman work inserted in the place fo a three light 15th century window. Some of the stones of the inside arch of this window are, however, of real 12th century workmanship, removed apparently from elsewhere. They have a large edge roll and a band of incised diaper work, which is copied round the remainder of the jambs and arch.
The doorway below this window is also modern of 12th century design with shafted jambs, moulded bases, scalloped capitols and a semicircular arch enriched with chevrons and billets.
The 12th century north doorway has been blocked and shows on the outside only. The jambs are of two orders much restored. The shafts are missing, but mutilated scalloped capitols remain with grooved and chamfered abaci. The inner order of the semicircular arch is modern and has diaper enrichment and the moulded label are both original. Built into the blocking of this doorway is an old weather worn stone head, representing a bishop.
The tower is of three stages finished with a plain parapet carried by a billeted corbel table of nebuly pattern. The windows in each face of the top stage are of 12th century design. The small windows just above the roofs in the lower stage belong to the original 12th century work, but have been partly restored. There are two in each face except on the west side, that has only one on account of the stair turret, which is placed at the south-west angle, more to the south than west. It is square below and circular after it clears the eaves of the roofs, and is finished off at the corbel table level with a conical roof. A dividing line between the ashlar facing and flint shows where the 12th century work finished off. All the roofs are covered with lead.
The woodwork of the chancels and north and south transepts is modern. That of the nave has the stumps of the tie beams of a much flatter 15th century roof, used as hammer beams with modern carved bracket supports. The moulded cornice with the series of trefoiled panels over and the jacks to the hammer beams are also old. The corbels supporting the easternmost brackets are of 15th century date, having carved heads, one a crowned king, apparently Richard II, and the other a child, surmounted by semi-octagonal moulded abaci.
The font, which is placed near the west end of the nave on the south side, has a shallow square 12th century Purbeck marble bowl with a hollow scalloped capital at each corner. The shafts and bases to these and the large stem in the centre are modern. The east face of the bowl has a row of large pointed leaves, the south face has a series of hollow flutes, on the west side are three roses and on the north face is a four-leaf flower between two disks. There is a pretty 17th century cover.
The pulpit is an elaborate example of early 17th century woodwork, hexagonal in form with two tiers of panels, the lower arched and the upper rectangular, every available space being carved with shallow arabesque patterns, the 'antick work' of the time. It stands under the tower, on a modern pedestal. The sketch is of the Chancel before the cross seat were removed.
The tower contains a ring of six bells, all of which were cast by Henry Knight of Reading in 1664, but the fifth was recast in 1849 by Taylor of Loughborough. There is another small bell for the use of the clock only, which was cast by C & G Mears of London in 1846. Under the tower hangs a brass chandelier of ten lights given in 1713 by Amey the wife of Robert Hiam.
Tombs and Brasses
In the north east corner of the south chapel is a large altar tomb to Sir Henry Kingsmill, son and heir of Sir Wm Kingsmill of Sydmonton in the county of Hants, who married Bridget White, a daughter of John White of Southom, Esq., by whom he had five sons and two daughters. He died in 1625 and his widow erected this monument in 1670 and died in 1672. On the slab are two recumbent alabaster effigies. Sir Henry is in the armour of the time of Charles I. He has his right hand on his breast, while the other is holding the scabbard of his sword, which is broken away. His wife wears a veil and a tight bodice and has her left hand on her breast and holds a book and a handkerchief in the other. On the lozenge at the east end of the tomb are the arms of Kingsmill impaling White. At the head of the base are the Kingsmill arms with the crest of a hand holding a millrind.
On the floor of the south chapel is a 16th century brass plate to Sir John Kingsmill (ob. Aug 11, 1559), who married Constance Goring, with a Latin inscription giving an account of the large family born to a Kingsmill of Sydmonton, and on a shield are the Kingsmill arms impaling quarterly (1) a chevron between three rings, (2) on a chief indented three molets, (3) on a chief three roundels, (4) on a bend cotised four lions passant, (5) barry of six with a leopards head on a quarter. There are four other brasses in this chapel, one to John Bossewell, gentleman and 'notarye pulique', who died in 1580. Above the inscription is a shield bearing the arms of Bossewell, which are Argent a fesse indented gules with three molets sable in the chief. The next is a small brass figure of a priest in Mass vestments and having a shaven head, and the insciption shows him to be 'Willm Estwood late Vycar of this churche and Psonne of Newnom' who died in 1519.
The third brass has a small figure of a lady in a close-fitting dress holding her hands in prayer. The inscription reads 'Jhu have mercy on the soule of Cisily Gobard which dyed 17 Feb. an 1503'
The fourth brass is to Elizabeth Hunt. Wife of Jacob Hunt of Popham. Who died in 1606.
Let into the middle of the chapel floor is fixed an old stone coffin in which have been laid some fragments of 15th century tiles of various patterns, including a winged dragon in a circle, a reversed lion passant, fleur de lis, double eagle, and a counterchange pattern.
The plate consists of a silver chalice, a paten cover of 1707 and two pairs of patens of 1703 and 1704, all inscribed 'The gift of John Fawconer Esq.' with an impaled coat of arms. Two other chalices of 1567 and 1568, and a silver figure of 1670 given byt Lady Bridget Kingsmill in that year, bearing the arms of White of Southwick.
There are eleven books of registers, the first one being of great interest, as it is one of the few original paper copies of 1538 and contains entries of baptisms, marriages and burial from that date to 1665. The second book is parchment and has the same entries, and includes the parishes of Ecchinswell and Sydmonton from 1610 to 1638, and a third book continues the same from 1638 to 1673. The fourth book is a paper transcript of all entries from 1653 to 1665, The fifth book is of parchment and has baptisms, marriages and burial from 1665 to 1678. The sixth book contains baptisms from 1682 to 1811 and marriages from 1681 to 1754, with three others dating 1772, 1802 and 1810. The seventh book has marriages and banns from 1754 to 1777, the eight marriages from 1777 to 1806, the ninth continues them on to 1811. The tenth and eleventh books contain burials from 1673 to 1765 and 1767 to 1812 respectively.
The church of ST LAWRENCE, ECCHINSWELL
The new church of St Lawrence, Ecchinswell was built in 1885-6 and consecrated in 1886 on a site north of that of the original church, which was demolished in 1883. It is of cut flint with stone dressings in 13th century style, and consists of chancel, nave, aisles, south porch and tower with spire containing two bells. There is a fine oak screen.
The plate consists of a silver chalice and paten cover of 1579, a silver paten of 1879 and a silver flagon of 1871.
The registers begin in 1844, the earlier register being included in that of Kingsclere.
The sketch is of the old church before demolition in 1883
The church of ST MARY, SYDMONTON
church of St Mary, Sydmonton, stands in a beautifully kept grounds of
Sydmonton Court, surrounded by a green lawn, the house is to the north,
and to the south is a terrace walk looking across the valley. The church
is a modern building finished in 1853 in 14th century style and consists
of a chancel 18ft. by 11ft. 6in. with an organ chamber on the north
side, a nave 34ft. 3in. by 16ft. 9in. with a south porch, and a west
tower 10ft. by 9ft. 7in., the measurements being internal. The most
interesting parts of the building are the three rre-used early 12th
century arches, one to the north doorway of the nave now blocked, another
to the south doorway, and the third in the east wall of the tower. The
first two are exactly alike and have an inner order of rich diaper work
and an outer order of hatched ornament.
The tower arch has a particularly effective design of scrolls growing from a central stem on the inner order, while the outer order has a large cable moulding. The abaci and jambs of all these arches are modern. All the fittings of the church are new, including the plain octagonal font at the west end of the nave. The walls are of flint with stone dressings, faced inside with ashlar, and the ground stage of the tower has a stone rib. The roofs are of oak, open in the nave, and panelled, with carved bosses, in the chancel, and are covered with tiles. The tower is of two stages with a panelled parapet and stair turret at the south-east, the belfry windows are single cinquefoiled lights, and there is a smaller cinquefoiled west window in the lower stage.
There are six bells, all by Mears & Stainbeck, the tenor and fifth being cast in 1853 and the others in 1869.
The plate consists of a silver chalice, paten cover and paten of 1707 inscribed 'ex dono Rebecca Kingsmill', a silver flagon of 1723 inscribed 'The gift of Dame Rebecca Kingsmill to ye chapel of South Sidmonton 1723', and a silver alms dish.
There is a Baptist chapel on Headley Common opened in 1836, and a Wesleyan chapel in the Market Place of Kingsclere, while there are no fewer than three Primitive Methodist chapels in the modern parish of Kingsclere Woodlands, situated respectively at Plastow Green, Ashford Hill and Wolverton End. The Congregational Chapel in Ecchinswell was built in 1812. In 1672 Charles II, in answer to a petition from divers inhabitants of the parish of Kingsclere, granted licence to Richard Avery, a Presbyterian, to preach to them in the house of a certain William Jones.
The WESLEYAN METHODISTS
See also the Methodist Church's own web site
first records of Wesleyans in Kingsclere are of a group of people who
met in John Hall's house in November 1808.
A directory states that the Chapel was built the following year although another states 1826. However there are two tombstones, Ann Sidery aged two years and Eliza Sidery aged 5 months, which are dated 1819
The material used for the outside of the Chapel was flint stone similar to the resurfacing of St Mary's, the Litton School House and the Old Vicarage all built in the 19th Century.
The seating including the gallery was for 280 worshippers. Behind the pulpit is a rose window which was added in the 1950's by the kindness of the late Arthur Newbery, which at the time of preparing these notes  needs repairing. Below the window is a wooden cross which was made and given by the pupils of Kingsclere Secondary School before they vacated the school for their new premises in Burghclere. The Communion table was also made in Kingsclere in 1897 in pitch pine carved to match the rostrum. In the same year the kneeler was placed round the Communion Rail, this has white lilies on a crimson ground worked in Berlin wool. The tall brass vase was given in memory of Mr Frank Hopkins who died in 1936. He was a regular worshiper and Parish Councillor. The book table and vase in the porch was donated by Mrs Muriel Walker in memory of her husband who had spent his retirement from Methodist Ministry in Kingsclere. The Methodist Church was rewired in 1975 paid for by contributions given in memory of MR Harold Hill who died in 1975 and a small brass plaque at the back of the church records this. Two years later two more members died Mr Hubert Smith and Mr William Hopkins and a pedestal container for flower arrangements was given in their memory. A jug for the Communion wine was given in memory of Miss Doris Cooke who died in 1980.
In 1895 an agreement was made between Charles Sidery and those acting on behalf of the Wesleyans and two years later the schoolroom was built. Although it was intended to have some kind of lavatory when the schoolroom was built there were insufficient funds to allow for this so the "little house" became the broom cupboard. Much later when piped water was available a W.C. was added. The schoolroom was used as a classroom by the Secondary School before The Clere was built. Ration Books were also distributed from the schoolroom in 1952.
Major repairs had to be done due to fungus and dry rot when £4500 was spent between March 1981 and January 1983. Included in this was a new floor in the church and for one or two Sundays services were held in the chancel of St Mary's Church.
In the 1850's there was a Primitive Chapel in Kingsclere and in the 1920/30's two railway carriages were used at the top of The Dell by the "Ranters" who were the Primitive Methodists. In 1860 J Winterbourne, a Kingsclere lay-preacher served Primitive chapels in the Newbury circuit, which reached as far as Hungerford with 120 preachers covering 53 places of worship. The amalgamation of the Primitives and Wesleyans came about 1934. It was about this time that a new hymn book was brought out and another one of Hymns and Psalms has been published and Kingsclere has purchased some with the legacy from the late Mrs Kate Powell in 1986.
The ROMAN CATHOLICS
During the 1939-45 war, when the Black Watch were stationed in Kingsclere, some of the soldiers asked if there was somewhere they could have Mass. Mrs Coffee, who then lived at 42 Swan Street opened her house and Mass was said by Father Wheeler in her front room. When Evan Williams was at Park House he allowed the dining hall to be used for Mass, but there came a time when it was required as a gymnasium for the lads, so the Church Hall was hired. The Albert Hall, having become a white elephant to its shareholders was sold to the Catholics. The Albert Hall was built in 1886 at the suggestion of Mrs Porter. It was designed by Mr Peter Dollar and opened by Miss Beach of Oakley. The tender to build the Albert Hall was accepted from W and C Garrett for £800 and the Duke of Wellington contributed £20 of this. It has been used in a variety of ways; concerts, parties, film shows, dances, sales, exhibitions and political meetings and when Kingsclere Secondary School was overcrowded it was used as a classroom.