History of All Saints Church
The size and majesty of this Norman church reflects the importance in mediaeval times of East Meon parish. Attached to this page is a PDF of a talk given by Michael Blakstad on its history, click here to download, whilst a brief version is given on the web pages in this section.
The church of All Saints was completed in about 1150. The original church was cruciform in shape, consisting of nave, chancel, and transepts, and the original work is clearly identifiable in the round-topped arches typical of Norman or Romanesque style, and in the West and South doorways. The only major addition to the church subsequently was made in about 1230, when the South Aisle and Lady Chapel were added, in the new Early English style, with its pointed arches and larger windows. The spire was probably added at this time too.
Among the church’s most important treasures is the black marble Tournai font dating from the church’s completion and one of only seven in the country. The font was probably a gift from the Bishop of Winchester, Henry of Blois, grandson of the Conqueror. The carvings on the four sides are illustrations from the opening chapters of Genesis, executed in a Romanesque style.
In 1869-1870, there was a major internal and external restoration. The vicar, William Brodie, enlisted the help of the well-known Victorian architect, Ewen Christian (1814- 1895). The obvious external signs of this restoration are gutters and down pipes. Christian worked on the roofs, especially the Lady Chapel, chancel and transepts, and also on the spire. The three-faced clock came at this time. Internally, the box pews and gallery were removed, and were replaced by the pews as we have them today. Christian’s restoration also uncovered the remains of the four soldiers from the Civil War period who were curiously buried upright, and whose remains are marked by the ‘Amens Plenty’ stone now in the South Transept.
Sir Ninian Comper
The church internally owes its greatest debt to the work of the distinguished church architect, Sir Ninian Comper (1864 -1960) Comper was much influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement associated with William Morris, and had an interest not just in architecture, but also in church fabric and furnishings. Comper was employed here by Thomas Heywood Masters, vicar from 1902-1921. He was responsible for the two altars in the Sanctuary and the Lady Chapel, the reredos behind the Lady Chapel altar and the timber screens surrounding the Lady Chapel. This work expressed Comper’s emphasis, as an Anglo-Catholic, that the primary purpose of a church as a place of worship is for the celebration of the Eucharist.
After the First World War, Comper designed the great East window depicting the coats of arms and patron saints of those countries who formed the alliance which defeated Germany and its allies. The window was dedicated in 1921.
The building of the Church Hall, completed in 2000, and designed to be in sympathy with the Norman church, speaks of a desire to serve community needs, which is both modern and also as old as the Middle Ages.
Visitors now come to admire the magnificent Millennium Embroidery, illuminated in its huge oak display case, which depicts the village in the year 2000 and was the work of a team of forty skilled needleworkers over several years before its installation in 2008.
For source material on All Saints Church, in the online archive, click here.