Hampshire churches 10 – All Saints, East Meon

The church of All Saints at East Meon in Hampshire dates back to the Norman Conquest and probably stands on the site of an earlier Saxon church.

All Saints, East Meon

Nestling beneath a hillside, it is unexpectedly large and dominates the village. The bishops of Winchester were the lords of the manor of East Meon, and the church was probably built by Bishop Wakelin, who also rebuilt Winchester cathedral.

Tournai font

The church booklet and Simon Jenkins in his Thousand Best Churches say that the greatest treasure in the church is a Tournai font of black marble, made in Belgium in about 1150 and transported down the Scheldt river, across the North Sea and the English Channel, then up the river Itchen before the challenging final miles overland to East Meon. The four faces of the font are carved, two of them depicting symbolic designs, the other two the story of the Creation and Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Eden. Simon Jenkins describes the carvings as ‘Bayeux Tapestry in stone’. Personally I find the font rather ugly – too large and in a material unsuited to an English country church.

The original Norman church was of cruciform plan, with large north and south transepts. An early Gothic south aisle and Lady Chapel were added in about 1230, as was the pleasing broach spire.

South aisle

The eastern wall of the south transept, once an outer wall and four feet thick, features a variety of windows, arches and a little gallery en route to the tower. The two smaller round-headed windows once admitted daylight from the outside.

The east wall of the south transept

Elsewhere in the south transept, a ship’s bell commemorates the long association between the church and HMS Mercury.

Inside the Lady Chapel

In the north transept there is an impressive community tapestry, made for the Millennium, depicting the village in panorama.

Millennium tapestry

Throughout the church many of the hassocks (kneelers) have bright and cheerful embroidered covers, no doubt the work of the ladies of the village.

My visit to East Meon was on a cold, grey February day whose flat light did nothing for the photographs. An album of them can be seen here.

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6 thoughts on “Hampshire churches 10 – All Saints, East Meon

  1. I’m enjoying the church posts, Stephen, and the photos are lovely as usual.

    Have you found any churches with signs of being much used for connecting with Him, or are they just nice historical buildings these days? At least none of them have been converted into “luxury apartments” yet.

  2. Ian

    Every church that has featured in my blog is in regular use as a place of Christian worship.

    I’d be unlikely to visit a deconsecrated one, not because of my own beliefs (or lack thereof), but because an essential and mysterious ingredient would be absent,

    Thanks for your comment.

    Stephen

  3. I am thoroughly enjoying your journey through the various churches. I am not at all familiar with this part of the world but I do recall many a happy hour spent with my dad doing something similar. He was a Sunday fisherman and when we went on club outings he often found a nearby church where we would pass some of the day. Although he enjoyed the fishing, as club secretary he used to have to spend a lot of the competition days ‘out of the water’ as he would be responsible for walking the lines to make sure no-one was cheating! Church visits or quiet strolls were then the order of the day for us both

    1. Thanks, Jude. It’s good to know that someone not only reads this stuff but actually enjoys it. Mind you, I’d probably do it anyway even if no one read it. Gets me out of the house and I like taking photographs. Also, I’ve learned a bit about church architecture since July, when I started this.

  4. I have some photos I took of St. Vincula when I visited in 2004. Let me know if you want me to send them… you could write a blog about that old church, I’m sure.
    Rob

  5. I’d love to have them, Robert. My only memory of schoolday services in St Vincula is of trying to ward off boredom by doing alphabets.

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