East Worldham, St Mary (30K)

East Worldham: St Mary — Information

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From — Some Ancient Churches in North East Hampshire

At West Worldham the ancient Saxon track led through the forest, west from Selborne and east to Binsted. East Worldham church stands at the top of Worldham Hill, just off the crossroads with another forest track which led north to Alton.
An even older road made by the Romans, connecting Silchester in the north-west with Chichester and Fishbourne on the south coast, also passed through East Worldham. Evidence of Roman occupation here is still being found.
The present church is of early 13th century origin, but almost certainly replaced an earlier Saxon church on the same site. The south porch was added in the 19th century and shields an Early English doorway. On the left hand jamb are crosses carved by early Christian travellers, possibly pilgrims on their way to Canterbury. On both sides of this doorway are scratch dials which indicated the times of the masses. The left-hand dial was shaded from the sun when a buttress was built to support the south wall, and therefore another was carved on the right-hand side. The gnomon from the central hole has long since disappeared.
On the east wall there is evidence of the original Norman apse, later replaced by the present square east end, with triple lancet windows. On the north wall of the chancel the Victorian vestry conceals the stairway which would have led to the rood loft. On the north and south sides of the nave are Early English doorways, the north door being the priest's entrance.
The tower was reconstructed in 1864-5 by David Brandon, when the church was completely re-roofed and re-furnished. It is a short, square structure surmounted by a wooden bellcote, typical of many Hampshire churches. The bellcote was added to an earlier tower in 1660, and is recorded in a watercolour view of the church from the south west painted by Richard Ubsdell in the 1840s, and now on view in the Portsmouth City Museum and Art Gallery.
In the south wall of the nave is a 14th century effigy believed to be of Phillipa, wife of Geoffrey Chaucer, whose son was Lord of the Manor from 1418 to 1434 and also the Ranger of Woolmer and Alice Holt Forests. This was found under the floor during the restoration of the church in 1865.