From Some Ancient Churches in North East Hampshire
Kingsley derives its name from the King's Lea, a meadow or pasture. At one
time the village formed the 'clearing' which lay between the Alice Holt and
Both the forests were favoured hunting grounds of the kings, and a royal
hunting lodge is supposed to have been sited at Lode Farm, not far from the
The Kingsley chapel was used by the royalty while hunting, but a reference
to it does not appear in Pope Nicholas's taxation of 1291, though mention is
made to 'the parish of Kingsley' in deals of 1293. Foresters were also
using the chapel, which was subsidiary to Alton's St Lawrence, as a grant
of 1334 mentions 'Aulton and the Kingsley church'.
Kingsley church belonged to Hyde Abbey, near Winchester, and the abbey monks
supplied a chaplain for it. The field behind nearby cottages is still
called Marks Field, and indeed one of the cottages was believed to have been
occupied by a priest.
The parish register began in 1568, though no originals survive. Obviously
the church had fallen into disrepair by the early 18th century, as more and
more items of expense on church refurbishment were noted. In 1778, a major
restoration had to be undertaken which involved rebuilding of the nave and
the wooden upper tower.
The west wall, beneath the bell tower, is built of courses of deep purple
heathstone, while the east wall is all that is left of the older church,
being constructed of 'clunch' (chalk) which has been plastered. This wall
has a window of two trefoiled lights, circa 1330, containing modern stained
glass by the artist Geoffrey Webb, installed in 1949 as a memorial window.
Decoratively, the interior of the church is simple, but does contain several
interesting items. Near the main door is a tub font, possibly 11th century,
which has an 18th century metalwork cover of intricate design. It stands
on a very old stone floor. A wooden chest, from about AD 1300, is believed
to have been placed in the church by order of the Pope, who was raising
money for the Crusades at the time. Unfortunately it was removed by
thieves late in 1993.
The Mortuary Crib, possibly made from communion rails, is a very unusual
feature, dating from the 1790s, the same age as the pews. Soon after these
were installed, Jason Harding, a local carpenter, built the gallery.
When a new church was built on the main road to accommodate the villagers of Kingsley
and Oakhanger, the old church ceased to be used regularly for services, though
burials continue. Declared redundant in 1975, the building is now cared for by
Kingsley Parish Council, and has been restored for use as a burial chapel.