From Some Ancient Churches in North East Hampshire
Two miles north of Oakhanger lies St Leonard's Church, Hartley Mauditt, which
having lost its village stands isolated beside the village pond.
This was essentially a manor church, built between 1100 and 1125 by one of William
the Conqueror's knights, William de Mauditt, in a clearing in the forest. He would
also have built the manor house and cleared the land for growing crops and grazing
his animals, and his family and servants would have worshipped in the church.
The building is a simple nave and chancel, although originally it probably would
have had an apsidal east end. The porch protects a beautifully decorated Early
English doorway. Inside is the 15th century font, and in the south wall is a Norman
window. The chancel arch is an early Norman horseshoe arch, and the east chancel
window is Early English, the same period as the present east end which replaced
Beneath the chancel is a crypt, probably the Stuart family vault, which is entered
by a doorway (now bricked up) which lies behind the pulpit.
After the de Mauditt's, the manor passed by various families to John of Gaunt
and remained Crown property until 1603. The Stuart family bought the manor in
1614 and held it for many years. Their monuments, several with colourful heraldry,
are in the chancel.
In 1798 the owner preferred to live in London, but his wife wished to remain in
Hartley Mauditt, so he demolished the manor house, thus forcing her to follow
him. She is buried in the churchyard, so her heart at least did in the end return.
The destruction of the manor meant loss of employment, and the village was abandoned.
The church was restored in 1854 and 1904, the last when the bell turret was renewed.
Today the church is well preserved and beautifully maintained.