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The Parish of Knights Enham


11th Century

In the 11th century, a village known as Eanham lay to the south-west of the present church. “Eanham” is probably derived from the word “yean”, which is an ancient word for “lambing”. So Eanham was a place where lambs were bred, as indeed it still is today. Alternatively, the nearby springs may be the origin, as “eans” was the old Celtic word for “spring”. The Doomsday Book recorded the village as Etham.

It is believed that there was an earlier church on the same site before this church was built. There is no physical evidence of this, but it is recorded that in 1008 a very important meeting took place at Eanham whenAlphege, the Archbishop of Canterbury, held a great Council which legislated for sundry Church matters and the affairs of the nation. No meeting of this size would have been held in those days except in close proximity to a church, so it is assumed that a Saxon church, probably made of wood, wattle and daub, and roofed with thatch, must have pre-dated the present one, to serve the village of Eanham.

The church you see today was built in Norman and Early English styles, at some time in the 11th century. A stone head on the outside north wall of the Vestry probably dates from this time. It is made of Binstead stone, and may have been part of a rood (A screen dividing the Chancel and nave in the Church).

12th Century

In the Pipe Rolls ad Fees of the 12th and 13th centuries, the name of the village became Enham.

The font dates from this century, so must be the original one from the time the church was built. The walls of the Nave are also probably the original walls. The north window of the 19th century vestry incorporates some 12th century masonry.

13th Century

The church is first mentioned in the history of Hampshire in 1241. The first known Rector was recorded in 1241 as being John, the Parson. We know this because it is recorded that John the Parson owed money to the Prior of Andover!

The lancet window over the 19th century door in the chancel, and the north-east window in the nave date from this time, as does the doorway into what is now the Vestry. This was the main door into the church in those days, and opened straight into the churchyard. In the jambs of this doorway are the holes in which would have been placed a wooden draw-bar to secure the church from inside, possibly by Knights sheltering in the church on their way to or from the Crusades. Tiny traces of medieval paint are still visible around the doorway.

In about 1292 the advowson (the right to appoint a Rector) belonged to the infant son of Roger de Calstone, who was also named Roger deCalstone. It is thought that the South Aisle was built at some time during this century.

14th Century

In about 1316 Enham became Enham Militis, or Soldier’s Enham (there being no word for “knight” in Latin) and later took on its present name of Knight’s Enham when the manor was in possession of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, or the Knights Templar.

In 1335 Roger de Calstone gave up the advowson to the Lord of the Manor, John de Handle who, in 1341, was intending to license it to the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury, but Queen Philippa, wife of Edward III, intervened on behalf of her new foundation at Oxford. It is recorded that “Sir John de Handle of Borstall did for the soul of himself and his wife, Maud, give to the Queen’s College, Oxon, the perpetual Advowson of the Church of Enham Militis in Hampshire; and ten pounds yearly rent issuing out of the said Manor by Charter dated on St. Georges day.” It remained in the gift of the Queen’s College for over five centuries.

15th and 16th Centuries

Nothing is known about the church during these two centuries, so one can assume nothing untoward occurred and that the church continued to serve the village in relative tranquillity excepting that like all churches there was change through the Reformation. Walls whitewashed, services changed from Latin (Catholic) to English (Protestant) and statues above the chancel screen removed.

17th Century

During this century considerable building and demolishing seem to have taken place. The plain wooden screen separating the Chancel from the Nave was built. The South Aisle, erected in the 13th century, was demolished, for what reason we do not know. In its place the south porch was erected, and the middle window on the south wall of the Nave was probably installed at this time, as the stone surrounding the window is contemporary with that around the south door. The charming wooden framed windows must also have been fitted.

A silver Chalice of 1649 was presented to the church by David Kingsmillin 1654, and a companion silver Pate was presented by the then Rector, Thomas Brathwayte, in 1655, during the Cromwellian period. It has no London Assayer’s mark – too dangerous to send it. These pieces are now on display in Winchester Cathedral Treasury.

18th Century

The old Parish Register of Births, Marriages ad Burials was started in 1763 and completed in 1812.

There are records of a west Gallery being in use in 1770 and again in 1788. There is a horizontal unevenness in the plaster of the west wall of the church, which shows where the floor of this gallery stood, and on either side of the font can be seen the square holes which held the posts that supported it. It is not known for how log this gallery was in existence, or why it was erected. Perhaps the church needed more space and was regretting pulling down the South Aisle? We still have a bible, given by the Revd. Levy for use I the Gallery – dated 1857.

The pulpit, reading desk and nine pews were gifts in 1788. Two of these pews (referred to in those days as “Perches”) are still in the Chancel. The front chandelier was given by David Dewar. His and other family memorials are on the south wall with hatchment boards, used on the horse drawn hearse. The mottos mean Peace in heaven and where there’s life there’s hope.

The Holy Table also dates from this century – made of wood as ideas about the Holy Communion changed from sacrifice to remembrance.

19th Century

More alterations to the fabric of the church were made during this century. The stained glass of the East Window was presumably chosen from a catalogue of the firm of Alexander Gibbs of Bloomsbury, and is almost certainly contemporary with the window stonework of 1875. It does not exactly fit the space! It was given in memory of various members of the Dewar family.

It is thought that the wooden bell tower, with its shingled sides and pyramid roof, was built in this century to house the bell, which bears the inscription “Thomas Mears 1837”.

The door in the Chancel was put in for the rector’s use, and supporting buttresses were built at the outside angles of the building.

The original font was found outside, badly smashed. It was put together and erected outside the south door. Later it was brought inside. A new font made in imitation of the old 12th century one was presented by the Rev. Fisher Audland, Rector 1848-50.

In 1864 a wall was built between the Churchyard and the Rectory to replace wooden palings. A flagon was added to the Communion Plate in 1872 (now at Andover Museum).

In 1871 this and four other livings in the diocese of Winchesterwere given to the Bishop of Winchester, the present patron, in exchange for the Rectory of Crawley with the chapelry of Hunton. In 1878 the neighbouring parish of Smannell was united with Knight’s Enham.

20th Century

The original 12th century font was brought back into use and the imitation one put into store. The wooden font cover was presented by the children of Mrs. Vera Gordon in her memory.

The heating in the church was donated by Mr. C.S. Hunt (Farmer of Manor Farm).

The wall between the churchyard and the now Old Rectory was repaired in 1961.

In the 1970’s the Parish of Knight’s Enham was extended south to the railway line when the new London overspill housing estates were built to the north of Andover. As the church was then remote from the majority of parishioners, the need for a more central building became apparent. With this in mind, a piece of land on Smannell Road was obtained, and St. Paul’s Church Centre was built after a year of extensive fundraising. It was dedicated by the Bishop of Basingstoke on the 5th February, 1982, and serves the dual purpose of worship and social functions.

St. Michael’s still plays a major part in the parish. Services are held there every day of the week. It is used for all the major festivals and for most baptisms, weddings and funerals. The churchyard, which is still open, and the Garden of Remembrance are very peaceful for contemplation and remembrance.         

The Celtic cross on the War Memorial is a reminder that Christ has been worshipped here from time immemorial, and will continue to be worshipped for as long as this building stands. A millennium time capsule has been deposited in the church for future generations.

We hope you have found this of interest, and would welcome your visit to this beautiful and ancient church.

(Photographs kindly taken and supplied by Mr. Michael Hess)