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St Mary Mapledurwell

In common with many ancient Hampshire villages, the church is sited by a spring or stream. In this case, the spring rises in chalk close to the churchyard. Such regard to sources of water is common to both Celtic and Saxon traditions, and the name of the village itself, Mapledurwell, is derived from “pwl” (Celtic) – “dur” (Celtic or pre-Celtic) – “well” (Saxon), which all mean “spring”. 

There was almost certainly a place of worship here long before the earliest parts of the present building were erected in the late 12th or early 13th century.

Built of flint and stone, the church comprises a chancel with small modern vestry to the south, and a nave which dates from the original foundation of the church, but has been much restored since then. Whilst the chancel, too, has been rebuilt, some of the original stone would appear to have been used and the date 1624 is carved above the altar.

The church underwent major restoration in the Victorian era and the architect involved between 1850 and 1854 was Benjamin Thorne of Basingstoke.

The west doorway, one of the few original exterior features, is late Norman and consists of a continuous chamfer and round headed arch. On its jambs are an incised cross similar to a Maltese cross, and other ancient incised marks.

The main entrance door itself is old and has upright wood battens on its outer face and cross framing at the back. The chancel is gabled with a plastered barrel vaulted roof. The nave is also plastered and has rafters set on a four-centred curve, with old plain tie beams, braced collars and purlins.

The church has two screens. The plain oak chancel screen contains only a little of the original 15th century work, whilst the screen at the west end was probably installed to give extra support to the structure following the addition of the bell turret on the roof in the 17th century.

The plain boarded turret contains three bells hung for chiming:

* The oldest bell is inscribed “+ JOHANNES : EST : NOMEN : EJUS”. The cross on the bell is the mark of the London bell-founders William and Robert Burford (1373-1418). It is the sole remaining example of a bell of this particular class left in Hampshire.

* The second bell is inscribed “LOVE GOD 1659”.

* The third is inscribed “RICHARD ELDRIDGE MADE ME 1620”.

Although the east window is modern, a small lancet window in the north wall of the chancel has a head and a few quoins which are old. The nave windows have been much restored but there is old chalk masonry in the jambs. The only stained glass window “The Good Shepherd” was made by the firm Heaton, Butler & Bayne, and wording at the bottom reads “Andrew Wallace Milroy MA gave this 1889”.

The 16th century commemorative brass reads “Off your charite pray for the soules of John Canner and Agnes his wife On whole [whose] soules Jhu’ [Jesus] have mcy [mercy]” and shows the couple with four sons and six daughters below. The Canner family were major free-holders in Mapledurwell, and John Canner and his wife Agnes were living here in 1576. Other memorials in the nave are the tablet dated 1720 to Richard Sumner, a local apothecary, and the brass plate dated 1914.

The perpendicular style font is Victorian, octagonal in shape, with panelling on the bowl and stem, including crocketed ogee arches with finials on the bowl; the cover is wooden with iron fittings. The Victorian oak altar has three panels painted in 1925 by Mrs H Shuttleworth, wife of the then Rector. The simple wooden altar cross was carved by local builder Claude Brown in 1950. The litany desk and chair, together with the communion rails, were presented in memory of villagers who died in the First World War. The oak table under the hymn board is almost certainly a communion table from the Jacobean period. The wall hanging of the Virgin Mary was worked by Penelope Edwards and the new kneelers were donated by the Friends of St Mary’s. A new chancel kneeler, based on the altar panel paintings, was also donated to mark the new Millennium and was worked on by several members of the congregation.

Original church registers, dating back to the 15th century, are on loan to the County Archivist in Winchester.

Originally, the clergy in Newnham were responsible for Mapledurwell. ln 1531 the Manor of Mapledurwell was granted to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and the college still owns much of the land in the area.