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Holy Cross, Binsted, Holy Cross, Hampshire

(51°9′47″N, 0°53′55″W)
Binsted, Holy Cross
SU 771 410
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Hampshire
now Hampshire
medieval St Clare
now Holy Cross
  • Kathryn Morrison
  • Ron Baxter
  • Kathryn Morrison
  • Ron Baxter
12 April 2005

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Feature Sets

Binsted is a village in NE Hampshire 2 miles NE of Alton. The village stands on the S bank of the river Wey valley, on a ridge of the upper greensand, and the church is constructed of the underlying rock, called malm stone, a mixture of chalky marl and chloritic (slilicaceous) grains like mica. This has something of the character of a freely workable limestone.

Holy Cross has an aisled and clerestoried nave with four-bay arcades dating from c.1180 (see Comments). It has a 14thc. S doorway under a porch that was rebuilt in 1863. The chancel is lower than the nave, allowing for the later piercing of high windows at the east end of the nave. To the north and south of the chancel are chapels separated from the main vessel by two-bay arcades of c.1200. The south, or Maiden chapel is connected to the nave aisle by a plain arch of c.1200, and projects only slightly from the line of the aisle wall. The north chapel, or Westcote chapel, projects much further. It was rebuilt as a chantry by Richard de la Bere of Westcote after 1331, and contains a crusader effigy with the inscription “Richard de Westcote gist ici deu de sa alme cit merci amen” presumably the monument of the father or grandfather of Richard de la Bere. This chapel now houses the organ and a choir vestry behind it. The chancel was extended eastwards in the 13thc., and there is a small 15c vestry to the east of the chapel on the north side. The west tower must date from the early 13thc., to judge from its plain arch. It is short, with a plain later parapet and a short spire behind it, roofed in slate. Field Marshall Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (d.1976) is buried in the churchyard.

The present appearance of the building owes much to the restoration of 1863. The south wall and porch were rebuilt with slate roofing and a gablet on the aisle, the chancel arch was replaced and the nave galleries removed, and the north wall of the Westcote chapel was rebuilt. As it now stands, the exterior except for the tower is rendered in white, and the roofs are of red tile, except on the spire, nave aisles and porch, where they are of slate. Romanesque features recorded here are the nave and chancel arcades, the tower arch and the arch into the Maiden chapel from the nave aisle.


In 1086 Binsted was held by Hugh de Port from Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, the holding consisting of just one hide. No church or priest was recorded at that time. After 1331 a chantry was founded here by Sir Richard de la Bere of Westcote, who held the manor at that time. Until 1865 the church was a chapel of Alton. It is now part of the benefice of Bentley and Binsted.


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches
Nave arches



Pevsner wished to date the nave arcade supports and capitals no later than 1160 on style grounds, but would prefer a date around 1190 for the arches. The present author sees no difficulty in dating both to the 1180s; scallop capitals, after all, were a long-lived phenomenon, and there is no suggestion that the stylistically later foliage motifs on the nave faces of the capitals to piers 1 and 2 of the N arcade are not contemporary with the scallops. What is clear is that the south arcade is stylistically a few years later than the north, say c.1190, and it is interesting to see that the idea of distinguishing the nave side from the rest has now been abandoned. The chancel arcades and tower arch must date from c.1200 or a few years later.


S. Allden, C. Brash and B. Smith, Some ancient Churches in North East Hampshire: an illustrated collection of notes on 12 churches. Bordon (Hants), 1995.

Anon., Binstead Church. A brief history of one of Hampshire’s oldest Village Churches, und. (post 1976).

N. Pevsner and D. Lloyd, The Buildings of England. Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Harmondsworth 1967, 102-03.

Victoria County History: Hampshire. II (1903), 483-90.