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St Andrew the Apostle, Hamble-le-Rice

OS Grid Ref: SU 482068 Postcode: SO31 4JF CoE CHR No: 641233

St Andrew the Apostle, Hamble-le-Rice Photo 1 - St Andrew the Apostle, Hamble-le-Rice.

A small priory was established here between 1109 and 1128 by a cell of Benedictine monks from the abbey of Tiron, near Chartres in France. It was probably already run-down before being suppressed with other “alien” priories in 1391, after which it was acquired by William of Wykeham who repaired and rebuilt the church as an endowment for Winchester College. The original church consisted of a parochial nave and monastic chancel with a western tower. The tower was repaired or rebuilt in 1410-1411, and the north porch was added in 1402.

The graffiti at St Andrew’s provides a rich historical record as well as demonstrating how important the church was to its local parishioners. It was a way of expressing hopes and fears, or of commenting on local events, as well as a simple record of a person’s presence. At St Andrew’s, a significant amount of graffiti is found within the porch around the north doorway, but by far the most impressive collection is on the outer face of the wooden door, into the porch, which consists of 8 vertical oak panels, held in place with iron studs, and has openings for at least 5 different keyholes. It is covered with graffiti which consists of numerous crosses and other lines and geometric shapes scratched into the wood (Photo 2 below)

Graffiti from the north door Photo 2 - Graffiti from the North Door

Local sources say that the graffiti was made by local fishermen who would make a mark on the door before going out to sea, then cross their previous mark to record their safe return. In
his book, Robinson, in his 'Hamble, A Village History', even gives the names of two men, one of whom died in 1932, who made such marks. He also says that Royal Navy sailors left marks, involving triangles and circles, denoting which fleet they had served in.

Some more elaborate shapes resemble medieval merchant marks. These marks were used to identify the goods of individual traders and are also often used as personal marks in place of signatures or initials in contemporary documents, for example in Southampton’s Linen Hall Book 1544-5, held by Southampton City Archives. (Photo 3 below)

Southampton Linen Hall Book 1544-5. Examples of merchant marks  Photo 3: Southampton Linen Hall Book 1544-5. Examples of merchant marks

Within the porch, on the east wall, is part of a memorial tablet, dated to 1st April 1628. The stone is incomplete as the name of the person commemorated is missing. It was probably originally on the floor of the church. (Photo 4 below)

Memorial tablet, North Porch interior Photo 4: incomplete memorial tablet, North Porch interior

We were very pleased to be shown two fine graffiti inscriptions on lead sheets, which had been rescued from the tower roof when it was being repaired and replaced. These items are currently stored in the vestry. One is a record made by someone who had seen Queen Victoria passing by Hamble on July 14th, 1846, when the royal party was making its way to Osborne House on the Isle of Wight on the Ferry Steam Yacht. (Photo 5 below)

Inscribd Lead sheeting from tower roof.  Photo 5: Inscribe lead sheeting from tower roof - “The Queen past Hamble the 14 of July 1846”

162 photographs were taken during the survey. All images and record sheets are held by the Hampshire Field Club Medieval Graffiti Project archive and are available on request. A copy of this report has been lodged with the Hampshire Historic Environment Record and with the church.

See further images and read the fuller pdf report.

Survey date: 10th June 2022.

Surveyors: Sarah Hanna, Gill & Roger James, Julian Porter, Derek & Sue Stewart, Karen Wardley, Brian & Joan Webb,