For our final visit with Arthur Mee we visit the parish of Warnford in the Meon Valley.
Arthur Mee was a British writer, journalist and educator and is best known for The Hamsworth Self-Educator, The Children’s Encyclopaedia and The Children’s Newspaper.
The Church of Our Lady, Warnford stands within the private Warnford estate but access by foot up a lengthy path is allowed. The original church was founded here 1,300 years ago.
Rebuilt in Saxon times a tower was added by the Normans about 1130. They extended the church and the walls we see now are six feet outside the original and date from 1200 when the nave of the Saxon church was demolished and the chancel extended.
Above the door in the porch is a sundial believed to date from the original church.
At the east end of the church are two monuments to the Neale family. The one on the left, to William and his two wives, is quite plain compared to the one on the right. This is to his son Sir Thomas and his two wives.
He died in 1621. His magnificent sculptured monument shows the two wives lavishly dressed with him in his armour and sporting a flowing beard over a ruff.
Below the sculpture are monuments to his children some carrying skulls to show they died in infancy.
At the end of his epitaph a prayer asks that anyone who looks upon him without a tear might be turned to stone.
Against the north wall in the 14th century chancel is a long bench divided in three by arms decorated with leaves. Mee tells us that men were sitting in the bench when Chaucer rode into Canterbury with the pilgrims.
In the churchyard is the grave of George Lewis the estate carpenter. He used to cut trees on a Sunday and was warned against it.
One Sunday while cutting down a tree a branch fell on him and that was the end of George. So beware.
To the rear of the church are the remains of the 13th century St John House which I will be showing more of next week.
I hope you have enjoyed this trip over the last few weeks following Arthur Mee’s footsteps in his book The King’s England.
I shall continue, perhaps after Christmas.