East Wellow – St Margaret of Antioch

The medieval parish church of St. Margaret of Antioch takes a bit of finding.  It is at the end of a country lane cul-de-sac with few houses nearby.  At one time it would have been centred between the hamlets of Canada, Embly and Wellow, but over the centuries East Wellow became the main centre as people built closer to the A36, the main route between Southampton and Salisbury, leaving the church quite isolated.   Most people who make the effort to find it do so because of it’s connection with Florence Nightingale whose impressive marble memorial in the shape of a church steeple stands on the south side of the churchyard.

The church dates from 1215 although it stands on the foundations of at least one earlier building. The south aisle was added in the 15th century
The memorial to Florence Nightingale, with an inscription, simple at her request,    F.N. Born May 12 1820, Died August 13 1910.      Florence Nightingale was a social reformer and the founder of modern nursing who came to prominence while serving as a manager of nurses trained by her during the Crimean War where she organised the tending of wounded soldiers. She became  known as “The Lady with the Lamp” due to her regularly making the rounds of the wounded soldiers at night.
The subdued nave is brightened by blue hassocks embroidered by local craftswomen between 1997 and 2001.  The designs commemorate subscribers’ family events as well as episodes of village life.  The rather grand organ was donated by a local benefactor in 1927 and it replaced a harmonium which had previously been used to provide music for the services. 
The hexagonal pulpit dates from the early 17th century.  It was discovered in a local barn in 1907 and restored to the church.  Just why it was in the barn seems to be a bit of a mystery.
Difficult to see against the ancient wood of a cross beam over the chancel, is this remarkable object. It is an ancient musket, with which its owner accidently killed a maid-servant and, as was the custom of the time, it was forfeited to the Crown and displayed in a church as an object lesson to others.  The instrument of death was known as a deodand in a law dating back to the 11th century and was applied right up until 1846 when it was finally abolished.
Wall Painting
The wall paintings are an important  feature of the church.   Discovered under layers of whitewash in 1891 they are thought to date from the mid 13th century. Shown here is a masonry pattern of squares, which each contain a flower in red or grey. The main figure is thought to represent St Christopher carrying the infant Christ and, in his right hand, an eel spear.  The eels in the water he is crossing can be seen around his feet.  Eels are still common in local waters.

The entrance porch dates from the 15th century, but the surrounding timbers are the oldest in the church and were an integral part its original construction.  The heavy door, decorated with herringbone patterned iron banding, still has its original lock and massive key and is pitted with nail holes.  These are where rats and other vermin were nailed by the rat catcher until paid for by the churchwarden.

The Reverend Chris Pettet with the church’s NADFAS report helping us discover the site of a mass-dial on the south wall. These vertical sundials were used in the medieval period to mark the time of church services.  Inevitably the gnomon has long gone, but the hole where it would once have been fitted can be seen in the large stone just above the book.

Our day did not start well.  I had arranged to pick up BQ from his house in Southampton but on the way found that all traffic had come to a standstill.  The cause was obvious as, ahead,  I could see vehicles locked together on the main flyover into the city.  The problem would clearly not be quickly resolved so I phoned BQ and suggested we each make our own way to our destination of the day and gave him precise instructions as to the route. I expected us both to arrive at about the same time, but after waiting 30 minutes or so began to be concerned. This would normally be the time to make a phone call, but as a confirmed technophobe, my friend has no mobile.  Eventually he arrived having taken what he thought would be a ‘short cut’, but which turned out to be anything but.

However, as it was, our timing was perfect because at the church entrance a crocodile of young schoolchildren in their bright yellow tabards were lined up waiting for mini-buses to take them back to school after an educational visit.   In these multi-denominational days I assume that their interest was more of an historic rather than spiritual nature.

I had previously phoned the incumbent of St Margaret’s, the Reverend Chris Pettet and he had been most helpful.  But, when we finally met him, I have to say he made out visit particularly special with his knowledge, enthusiasm and kind nature. He also introduced us to the NADFAS church report and let me read through the copy relating to St Margaret’s which, in great detail, described the church contents.  Apparently virtually all Hampshire churches have been recorded in this way and keep a copy of the report on site. I must remember this fact!

Chris, as he asked us to call him, was interested in the drone which I deployed to get my usual birds-eye photograph and he asked if I would send him a copy of the photo which of course I was happy to do,  My reward was to later learn that the image will shortly be used in the Order Sheet for the Nightingale Service, an annual event held on the Sunday in May nearest to her birthday.    MW

The Rockingham Arms,  Canada, Wellow.

Built in 1840, the Rockingham Arms is situated in the small hamlet of Canada, on the edge of Wellow.  Early in the 1800s a group of  residents from the nearby Embly Estate decided to emigrate to Canada.  The less adventurous opted to make a much smaller move and remained in the area but named their new settlement their own ‘Canada’.

water lunch

“Who let the dogs out”

In all my years of dining, this hostelry was in my experience unique, in that the owners obviously strongly encourage customers to bring their dogs when having lunch.

On the bar, in the place of the usual nuts and olives there were “doggy treats” and beneath a beautifully laid adjacent table there rested a canine, its doleful eyes staring out between the owners legs. Apparently, this was the self-appointed leader of the pack, as whenever a newcomer arrived on a lead, he led a cacophony of loud barking from the assortment of other dogs throughout the restaurant in the manner of football hooligans haranguing a rival supporter.

I am not a doggy man and I found this noisy intrusion was more than a little disconcerting, MW however coming from a more countrified tweedy background was more sanguine.  He was full of praise for his meal and the general standard of cooking. I, on the other hand, found my digestive system so disrupted by this canine pantomime that under the circumstances feel it would be better if I refrained from judgement.  BQ

Our lunch

  • Savoury Cabbage Soup
  • Whole Poole Bay sole, new potatoes, tenderstem broccoli, shrimp and caper butter
  • Eton Mess   BQ
  • Tempura of king prawns, mango and lime mayonnaise
  • Malaysian fish curry with coconut rice
  • Eton Mess    MW
  • Malbec, Vista Flores 2015, Bodega Norton, Argentina.   MW
  • Pinot Grigio, Terre del Noce 2015, Vigneti delle Dolomiti, Italy.   BQ

✪✪✪✪✪  MW

✪✪✪✪✪  BQ

One thought on “East Wellow – St Margaret of Antioch

  1. Fascinated by the drone photography Michael….I can imagine Pat getting into that!
    Enjoying the blog


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