click for image
St Mary, Mapledurwell
The village of Mapledurwell, which lies to the south-east of Old Basing, is a pleasant mix of black and white cottages and modern housing. The village also includes some interesting red brick buildings. There is no strong sense of a village centre, simply an eventful winding lane leading from the direction of the M3 to the crossroads and village pond, and then continuing further south-west.
The church lies south of the crossroads, near a modern house and a large garden pond. I first visited it briefly in 2002 when looking for accommodation in Basingstoke. It is a simple building situated on an eminence, and consists of nave, chancel, south chancel vestry, and prominent wooden panelled belfry with tiled pyramid cap. The churchyard is lovely, and is most extensive to the west . There are old gravestones in all directions. The church is quiet and alone, with spreading fields to the south, although the M3 is unfortunately within earshot.
Chronology of the building
The church appears to date from the late 12th to the 13th centuries, with little obvious alteration until the 19th century. There is no reference to a church in the Domesday book.
Norman: The west doorway, one of the few remaining original features of the exterior, is late Norman (i.e. c.1190), and consists of a continuous chamfer and round headed arch. The stones are mostly original, and include various markings .
Early English: All the windows of the nave and chancel, apart from the east window, are lancets and appear to originally date from the 13th Century. There are three large lancets in both the north and south walls of the nave, and the chancel has a smaller lancet of two plain stepped orders in its north wall (1) . All are renewed, although original stonework survives inside (e.g. the jambs of most windows, including the middle lancet on the north side). The nave lancets are deep and only slightly splayed.
The roof of the nave is medieval, and consists of 2 cambered tie-beams, arched-braces and wind-braces. The floors are or stone, except the sanctuary which is of 19th century tile.
It is not clear when the belfry was originally built, but it is likely to date from sometime after the Reformation. It was apparently rebuilt c.1850-54 (2).
19th Century: A significant restoration apparently took place c.1850-4, and while White's directory of 1878 gives the date as 1855, at the cost of £300, this is not mentioned in his earlier directory of 1859, although an earlier restoration of 1830 is mentioned. Of this nothing appears to be known. For the 1850s restoration the application details, which include a ground plan, are contained within the Incorporated Church Building Society archive (see www.churchplansonline.org), and the architect seems to have been Benjamin Thorne of Basingstoke, and the work appeared to include repairs to the roof, casing of the internal walls, new windows (it is not clear whether this means that new windows were added or existing windows were renewed, or both), building of the new vestry, rebuilding the bell turret, reseating, and other repairs.
The vestry , a small lean-to structure, was added in a sympathetic manner, with two lancet windows in a similar style to the chancel lancet, and an east doorway which mimics the style of the west doorway in that it is round headed and contains a chamfer (in the head only). A simple pointed doorway was inserted in the south wall of the chancel to provide access to the vestry.
Restoration is obvious, but not overwhelming. Much of the stonework was renewed, and the east window was inserted. It is unclear whether this window, which is early perpendicular in style, faithfully represents the style of the original, but the suspicion is that it does not. The chancel arch is 19th century, but represents the style of the early 13th century with its unmoulded arch and plain imposts . It may well be a faithful reproduction.
It is difficult to determine whether the flint walling of the nave is medieval or modern. It doesn't look old on the north side, though it consists of whole as well as knapped flints . The west wall certainly looks more recent, consisting mainly of knapped flints . The south nave wall is more likely to be old , but both the north and east chancel walls appear to have been rebuilt.
The tasteful furnishings mostly date from the 19th century, including the pulpit , west screen, and font . The font is perpendicular in style, e.g. octagonal, with panelling on the bowl and stem, including crocketed ogee arches with finials on the bowl. The handsome altar rails are in the 18th century style and were presented in memory of the villagers who died in the 1914-18 war (3) .
The simple rood screen is late medieval in style (the arched bays are uncusped), but contains little if any old work . The west door is certainly old, although the top part, where a tympanum may have existed, was clearly added later.
The early 16th century brass, to John Canner and his wife, was partially concealed by an organ when the authors of the Victoria County History recorded the church. Now it is open, showing the couple in civilian dress, the inscription, and 4 sons and 6 daughters below .
Few other memorials, e.g. a brass plate (†1914) and a tablet (†1720) in the nave.
There is only one stained glass window in the church, which is in the chancel north window . The subject is the Good Shepherd, and is of average quality. At the bottom it reads, "Andrew Wallace Milroy MA gave this 1889". The artist appears to be unknown.
1. Pevsner describes it as being Norman, although it is clearly pointed. The window does not appear in a plan of c.1850-54 which is held within the Incorporated Church Building Society archive (see www.churchplansonline.org), although it may simply have been omitted. Back to "Chronology of the building"
2. The application in the 1850s to the Incorporated Church Building Society includes "rebuilding of tower". Back to "Chronology of the building"
3. This information is from the church guide. Back to "Furnishings"
- [Anon]. The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Mapledurwell, Hampshire [church guide], October 2000
- Page, W. (ed). The Victoria History of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight: Vol.4. Constable, 1911
- Pevsner, N & Lloyd, D. Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Penguin, 1967
- White, W. History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, 1859
- White, W. History, Gazetteer, and Directory of the County of Hampshire including the Isle of Wight, 1878
- www.churchplansonline.org. Church plans from the Incorporated Church Building Society.
Questions for further research
1. When was the belfry originally built?
2. Does an early illustration or photograph of the church exist, showing it prior to restoration?
3. Who is the artist of the chancel north window?
© Copyright 2004, Barry Meehan