Corhampton Church,  Hampshire

11th Century

The information about the church is principally obtained from the excellent church guide originally written by The Rev. John Hurst and updated and revised (2000) by Chris Maxse B.A.

Click on photos to enlarge

A Saxon church built during the reign of Canute, and probably before 1020, according to A.R. and P.M. Green in "Saxon Architecture & Sculpture in Hampshire" (1951).  It has no known dedication, it is just referred to as Corhampton Church.

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Thin flint walls strengthened by the typically Saxon long-and-short stone quoins and the vertical stone lesenes surmounted by horizontal string course of stone. Lancet window on south side from 13th century. Porch added late 19th century.
Saxon windows on west gable.
Blocked Saxon doorway on north side. Plain rib all the way round. The semicircular arch rests on unusual "capitals" with horizontal rolls. Above the apex of the arch a lesene. The doorway was blocked by the 13th century when a lancet window was inserted.

The east end was rebuilt in brick following its collapse in 1842.

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Carved base of a lesene. Original stone plinth on which the church was built.
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It has been pointed out that the bases of the uprights of the north doorway "are of the same shape as the ends of a gold altar cross, being presented by King Canute to the New Minster in Winchester as shown by the New Minster Registry of about 1020 A.D. and on the capitals and bases of the arcade at the foot of the same illumination." (A.R. & P.M. Green)  - see picture here

Saxon sundial in south wall. The stone is different from the rest of the church and so must predate it. The sundial is divided into 8 "tides" rather than 12 hours. Four of the "tides" have a leaf pattern at their ends and the intermediate ones are of a bulbous shape.
One of the best preserved Saxon sundials in the country.

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Saxon chancel arch with the stones running right through. Pilaster strips on the outside, plain block capitals.
Traces of wall paintings on either side but in poor condition compared to those in the chancel.

In the chancel, medieval wall paintings uncovered in 1968. They are considered most probably to date from around the middle of the 12th century.
The main theme of the top layer is the legend of St Swithun, the 9th century Bishop of Winchester. Two scenes on the south side are shown in the enlargement. The first depicts the legend of an old woman having a basket of eggs knocked out of her hand, which were then restored to her unbroken by St Swithun. The second scene with what appears to be a stretcher is uncertain. It may relate to a man who apparently drowned in the River Itchen and was restored to life after being placed beside the tomb of St Swithun.
The other scenes have not been deciphered.
Below the top layer are attractive borders and below those motifs of drapes and of medallions containing back to back doves and a lion couchant.
Professor Wormald has stated that "it is the most elaborate decorative scheme that survives in English Romanesque painting". 

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In the left of the chancel, an altar stone believed to be the original Saxon altar.

In the right of the chancel, a sanctuary chair believed to be early medieval, although it could be Saxon. A fugitive sitting in the chair could not be arrested.

Norman font or possibly Saxon-Norman overlap.

Roman sarcophagus in the churchyard.


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