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All Saints, Milford on Sea, Hampshire

(50°43′40″N, 1°35′20″W)
Milford on Sea
SZ 291 921
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Hampshire
now Hampshire
  • Ron Baxter
05 April 2006

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Today Milford is a substantial resort village, on the coast 6 miles E of Christchurch. Before 1800, however, it was entirely inland, being separated from the sea by a strip of land. All that remains of this is the narrow promontory of Hurst Beach, with Hurst Castle at its tip that extends a mile into the Solent to the E of Milford. Milford extends for 1½ miles along the sea front and less than a mile inland; the church standing half a mile from the sea in the centre of the village.

All Saints is a large and complex building consisting of a nave with aisles and a S porch, a crossing with long transepts, a chancel with N and S chapels and a west tower with low vestries to N and S. It may originally have been an aisleless cruciform church with a central tower and a short, apsidal chancel. The transept facades have simple, narrow doorways, that on the N with a cusped trefoil head. These appear to be among the earliest work in the building, but cannot be much earlier than the late 12thc. The S aisle, with a three bay arcade, was a contemporary addition, and early in the 13thc the central tower was replaced by one at the W end. This has flattish angle buttresses that have been rebuilt at the top, interfering with the corbel table. There was an extensive remodelling of the church in the later 13thc. A N aisle was added, and the S aisle widened. The crossing was rebuilt with pointed, double-chamfered arches on Purbeck marble piers, effectively integrating the crossing into the nave, and very wide arches were inserted between the nave aisles and the transepts, opening up the space. The chancel was rebuilt longer and square ended and the chapels were added at this time too. The tower is topped by a leaded octagonal spire added in 1828, replacing an older one, and the vestries to either side of the tower are also modern. A parish room has been added on the N side of the nave. The church is mortar rendered with pebble-dash, except for the W section of the N aisle wall, in pinkish ashlar, and the W section of the S aisle wall, in yellowish ashlar. There was a restoration by Hakewill in 1854-55, involving reseating and apparently the rebuilding of the N aisle (described as a new N aisle in the application). The two transept doorways and the S nave arcade are described below. The corbel table is certainly 13thc, and detailed descriptions of the corbels are not given, but photographs have been included.


In 1086 Aelfric held Milford on Sea in exchange for land he had held in the New Forest. Before the Conquest it was held by Saewulf, and it was then assessed at 1 hide, but in 1086, after William’s appropriation of part of the land for the forest, it was only rated at half a hide. There was also 2 acres of meadow and a church, partly in the New Forest.

A parcel of 1 virgate was held by Wulfgar before the Conquest. He retained it in 1086 but again its value was reduced (to 3 parts of a virgate) by the afforestation.

In the later Middle Ages there were three manors here. Milford Montagu was held by William Spileman at his death in 1291. It passed to John de Grimstead, and at his death in 1350, to his daughter Joan, wife of Thomas de la Rivere. By 1378 it was held by William de Montagu, Earl of Salisbury and it apparently remained in this family until the later 16thc.

Milford Barnes belonged to Christchurch Priory until the Dissolution, and Milford Baddesley to the Knights Templars’ preceptory at Baddesley. When the Templars were suppressed, c 1312, it passed, like most of their lands, to the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, who retained it until the Dissolution.

The church was granted to Christchurch priory c 1140 by Baldwin de Redvers, 1st Earl of Devon, and the gift was confirmed on three occasions between 1150 and 1313. The advowson remained with the priory until the Dissolution.


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration

Corbel tables, corbels

Interior Features



VCH dates the two transept doorways to the late 12thc and the arcade to c 1180. Pevsner dates the doorways c.1200 and the arcade “late Norman”. Both transept doorways are considered by the VCH to be reset from the nave, but they seem too plain and, in the case of the N, too narrow for this. If reset the N is likelier to have been a priest’s doorway, but as Pevsner remarked their present positions, while unusual, are not impossible.


N. Pevsner and D. Lloyd, The Buildings of England. Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Harmondsworth 1967, 336-37.

Victoria County History: Hampshire. V (1912), 115-24.