History of The Priory Church of St Andrew the Apostle
Hamble may mean "crooked" and Hambele was a Saxon thane who gave his name
to other Hambledons. "Le Rice" is either "the rise" (the Church stands 50 feet
above sea level) or "the brushwood". The Venerable Bede (AD 700) mentions the
double tides of the Solent and calls the river "Holmlea". St. Andrew's Castle
on the foreshore of the Common was part of the defences for Southampton which,
by Tudor times, included Calshot and Netley Castles. The French raid of 1377 reached
Southampton and also damaged the Church here.
In 1109 a cell of the Benedictine monks from Thiron, near Chartres, was granted
land by William Gifford, the Bishop of Winchester. They built the Priory and served
the churches at Hound and Bursledon. In 1391 William of Wykeham bought their property
for his college in Winchester and repaired the church for parochial use. The upper
storeys of the tower and enlargement of the south windows can be dated as early
as the 15th century. The priory buildings were demolished for material, however
some Norman work survives in the door and west window of the tower. The upper
windows have re-used Saxon mouldings. A mass dial on the south west corner of
the tower dates from this period.
There are three bells which were listed in 1552; two are dated 1715 and the tenor
is similar to one at Winchester College. They were adapted for chiming in 1977
for the Queen's Silver Jubilee after being silent for many years. The Font is
Victorian and the Organ and clock are 1880 restoration improvements. The clock
was serviced by the makers in 1979 for the first time since 1919. The T C Lewis
organ was donated in 1880. It is a historic pipe organ with an excellent pedigree
and so was worthy of the complete restoration which took place in 2000 as a millennium project.
Although small, the organ has an unusually good tracker mechanism and a beautiful case
featuring Fleurs de lys
There is a rare communion chalice dated 1681 and the holy water stoup inside the
door is original as is the double piscina and Aumbry which are situated in the
chancel. The Easter sepulchre on the north side is rare except in monastic foundations.
Monuments to many seafarers cover the walls as is one to "the first Englishman
to fly" Sir Alliott Verdon-Roe and of his two sons. The two Emmons tablets above
the west door record their descent from Martin Van Bueren, President of the United
States 1837-41. The exterior of the church is remarkable in that the outer door
still has marks made by mariners cut into it, according to local tradition, by
fishermen who went out to sea. They went to church to say their prayers and made
a mark as they left the building and if they came back from fishing they went
to church to thank God for safe delivery and made another mark on the door, so
making a cross.
Recent archaeological work has found Saxon and Roman evidence under the south pews
and Saxon footings were unearthed at the south west corner of the nave. The east
window dates from the 13th century. It has an arch in the wall, probably for a
well; and a pump stood there until 1950. The south wall of the nave has a similar
arch leading to a crypt or charnel house from what was the cloister. Marks for
socket holes for the wooden braces can still be seen and the roof line is marked
by a band of pebble dash. The Norman tower is not integral with the nave, for
the two arches are of differing height and are butt-jointed. On the north wall
remains of a vestry or roof-loft stair can be seen and the little Norman door
had some faded painting when it was unblocked in 1947. The Lady Chapel dates from
1880 and the vestry from 1911.
In recent years a great deal of work has been done to the building. The tower
was renovated in the early eighties and a hall was added to the back
of the church. It is known as Hamble Priory Centre. It was opened in 1990. In 1997
the roof was completely renewed. Also in that year floodlighting was introduced
around the building.
In the year 2000, as part of the Millennium Celebrations
the Bells began to chime on the hour and
half hour after being restored. They had been silent since World War II.
Recently, the pews have had cushions placed upon them and new carpetry has been laid.
For the 2009 centenary celebrations banners were hung behind the high altar, and a new font cover