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St Leonard, Whitsbury, Hampshire

(50°58′16″N, 1°49′3″W)
SU 129 191
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Hampshire
now Hampshire
medieval Salisbury
now Salisbury
  • Ron Baxter
03 July 2014

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Feature Sets

Whitsbury is a small village in the NW part of the New Forest, 7 miles S of Salisbury. It has been a part of Hampshire only since 1895, when 8 parishes on the SE edge of Wiltshire (South Damerham, Martin, Melchet Park, Plaitford, West Wellow, Toyd Farm with Allenford, Whitsbury and East Bramshaw) were transferred. The village straggles along a minor road that runs N from Fordingbridge and peters out into a lane when the settlement ends. At this point there is a large Iron Age enclosure called Whitsbury Castle Ditches. The church is reached by a long and rising lane that leaves the village street on its E side. St Leonard’s consists of a nave, a chancel with a N vestry and a W tower, the lower storey of whuich serves as a porch. Construction is mainly of flint and some brick with stone dressings, except for the tower which is all of brick, and is odd in having a chamfered lower stage and a square upper stage with a pyramidal roof. The church was rebuilt in 1877-78 following the grant of a faculty to the Rector, Rev. Fortescue Purvis, but fragments of window tracery and other medieval worked stone are preserved in the tower porch. Among these is the object perhaps best described as a stoup with Romanesque features that is recorded below.


The manor is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey, but belonged to Reading Abbey (Berkshire) by the time of Henry I and remained so until the Dissolution. The church, however, was granted to Breamore Priory at its foundation by Ingelramus Apostolicus; this gift also confirmed by Henry I. The advowson remained with Breamore until the Dissolution.

The parish of Whitsbury was transferred from Winchester to Salisbury diocese in 1984.





There is a current of opinion,repeated in the EH list description and the Hampshire Historic Buildings Record, but apparently disputed by the Salisbury Museum, that the object described above was the font of the old church. This is extremely unlikely because it is much too small. It appears to consist of a 12thc base, perhaps from a doorway, to which a small cylindrical bowl has been later added. It seems unlikely that it ever served as a font, since it could not hold water as it stands, and this also rules out its use as a stoup. It is currently used as a stand for floral displays.


C. H. Brown, The Parish of Whitsbury and St Leonard’s Church (church guide), 1986

English Heritage Listed Building 144155

Hampshire County Council Archaeology and Historic Buildings Record 11601.

N. Pevsner and D. Lloyd, The Buildings of England. Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Harmondsworth 1967, 651.

Victoria County History: Hampshire. IV (1911), 594-95.