History of the Church

Droxford Church is situated in a beautiful setting by the River Meon, and stands in the centre of the village just 150 yards from the Village square. The Norman Church has been the centre of worship by the village community for nearly 900 years.  The earliest and main parts date from the middle of the 12th century, with the first records dating from 1150 to 1160. Although there may have been an earlier Saxon church in the Parish of Droxford, there is no evidence that it was on this site, but between the years 686 and 691, St. Wilfred, a Christian missionary, is known to have converted and baptised people in the Meon Valley. The Domesday Book of 1086 records The Bishop of Winchester holds Drocheneford the church is worth 20 shillings’.

The massive square pillars, which are a feature of the church, are sections of the outside walls of the original Norman building. The Norman chancel arch stands in its original position but it was raised four feet at the end of the 19th century.

The extensions of the original Norman church were achieved over two centuries. The north aisle and north chapel were built at the end of the 12th century or at the beginning of the 13th century. The south aisle was added in the late 14th century, and other modifications were made in the 19th Century. Both the north and the south doors were moved to the outer walls on each occasion the church was enlarged. The North Chapel is now used as a vestry, and houses the organ.

The main church roof over the nave and aisles is tiled.  There are three areas of flat roof – the North and South Chapels and the chancel.  The North Chapel is of a different construction made with zinc compound sheets, and there is a small area lead roof in a valley construction above the chancel. The South Chapel roof was previously covered in lead which was replaced with terne steel in 2012 after the lead was damaged and partially stolen.

Tower

The  external  walls  are  made  up  of  flint  and  stone  with  some  parts  plastered  with  stone  dressing  and  small  buttresses.  The  tower  has  a  square stair turret, set diagonally in the north-west corner, with clock and  four  bells  (a  fifth  was  added  c.1969)  and  above  the  west  door  a  plaque  incised  AD1599. It is not known whether this refers to the erection of the tower or whether it commemorates some earlier Tudor restoration.  The  tower  and  square  turret  stair  well  has  a  mixture  of  chalk block, inset flints and brick inner walls. Access to the tower at the west end is via a stone spiral stair up the inside of the square stair turret which is made up of medieval flint and stone with an inner chalk block wall.

The Bell room at the top of the tower consists of chalk block walls and later brick walls. The bell tower roof has recently been replaced with new rafters.  To the top of the Bell tower is a flat roof with a crenulated brick parapet wall creating a battlement.

Interior

In the 18th century extensive alterations were made to the interior of the church. The roofs and ceilings were renewed, the clerestory windows were remodelled and two galleries were built but they were removed a century later when the present box pews were installed.

During the incumbency of Canon John Vaughan (1901 – 1910), the church was extensively and carefully renovated and many old features were discovered and preserved. These include, in the North Chapel, a pre-Reformation piscina (a basin and drain near the altar for holy water after Mass) and an aumbry (a small recess or cupboard) and another piscina in the south chapel. A staircase which had once led to a rood loft was uncovered in the north chancel arch (See Note 3). In 1903 the Jacobean oak communion rails, which had been removed from the sanctuary some years earlier, were restored to their original place and the sanctuary itself was panelled in fine dark wood.

Floor Plan

floorplan

South Chapel

The South Chapel (known as the Lady Chapel due to the pleasing Victorian East window depicting the Virgin and Child) is currently used as a small worshipping space and is furnished with an altar and 20 poor quality chairs of uncertain age. The south facing windows, also Victorian, are stained glass giving the chapel low natural light.  The floor is flat and tiled with flags and quarry tiles.

North Chapel

The North Chapel currently houses the organ and the Vestry wardrobe and cupboards.  There is a small sink (cold water only) with a drain through the north wall. There is very little open space and the monuments and memorials on the walls and floor are obscured or hidden. There is clear glass in all three windows and this space would have a good level of natural light if it was not obstructed by the organ and vestry wardrobe.