Strolling through the villages and towns of the Hamble Valley you are guaranteed to encounter a host of churches.
Some are ancient, others are quite new; some are set in quiet spots, others on busy streeets. Whatever their setting though, these beautiful buildings have much to offer.
St Andrew’s Church makes a great starting point for your visit. The church stands on land given by the Bishop of Winchester to Benedictine monks from the Abbey of Tiron in France in 1109, at around the same time as the very first crusades to the holy land were beginning.
The building was then badly damaged and plundered in 1377 as the French raided Southampton and laid siege to Carrisbrooke Castle on the Isle Of Wight. Despite all of this destruction, what you see today inside the church dates all the way back to the building’s 12th century foundation, so to set foot inside is to step back nearly a millennium.
Three miles up the B3397 from Hamble lies Bursledon, another village supported by boat building. Here you will find the next two churches. Firstly, St Paul’s, a modern building which provides a range of service to the community, and close to this, St Leonard’s, built as a chapel by the Benedictine monks from Hamble at some time around the middle of the 12th century.
A short drive from St Leonard’s and you find the enchanting Early English church of Hound, St Mary. This tiny church was built at some point between 1190 and 1250 and many of original features survive.
St Edward’s church backs on to the grounds of Netley Abbey, the most complete Cistercian Monastery in Southern England. St Edward’s is a handsome example of Victorian architecture, with a number of items linking it to the older site next door. These include a marble effigy of a knight in mail with a shield and sword and a 15th century stone slab engraved with the figure of a Cistercian monk in his habit.