New Alresford Church, Hampshire

Despite this being “New” Alresford; there has been a place of worship on this site since at least the time of the Domesday Book. It began as a chapel to the church in Old Alresford and may have dated to as early as the mid-600s when the Bishop of Winchester first set up the “Liberty of Alresford”.

Early in the 13th Century Godfrey de Lucy, Bishop of Winchester began to replan the town of New Alresford and at the same time rebuilt the Church. It is possible this is when the dedication to John the Baptist came into being. Only a few fragments of this church have survived to the present. It was around this time that the trade route from Winchester to London diverted away from Old Alresford and came through the ‘New’ town which helped the New town prosper.

Like so many medieval towns, New Alresford was largely built from wood and period fires swept through with various degrees of severity. In 1689 on the 1st of May at 9 am a fire broke out that became so fierce that 117 homes were destroyed within three hours. Also the Market House and the Church were burnt to the ground.

All that was saved of the church was the west tower and some of the perimeter walls. Over the next few years funds were raised to rebuild both church and town. Four years after the fire the Church – still a chapel to Old Alreasford, although already larger – reopened for worship.

The Church remained a chapel until 1851 when it finally became a Parish Church in its own right and over the next few years further enlargements and repairs were stated. This culminated in the employment of Sir Arthur Blomfield in 1895 to undertake a full blown renovation, which was completed by the end of the 19th Century.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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