Following on with my quest to complete as many of the CWGC graves in churchyards close by, I decided to head to Hook, and from there to visit the churchyards of Newnham St Nicholas as well as Rotherwick Parish Church.
Hook is the next stop from Basingstoke on the line to London Waterloo and I was there by 10H30. I had some sort of plan in mind, and it really depended on my energy levels. The first part of my plan included photographing the Hook War Memorial.
And from there starting the long walk to my destination which was roughly 2,3 km away. I am not too keen on walking these country lanes because they are narrow and often have blind bends. There is no real pavement either so it can be risky, but the job has to be done.
Eventually I came to the junction that I needed and turned left to the church. It was a very pretty spot, and with Spring not too far away and a luke warm sun it really made for a nice day. There are 4 CWGC graves
in Newnham St Nicholas churchyard, of which two are private memorials.
The lychgate is magnificent (as these lychgates tend to be), and is dated 1910. The church itself is very much older.
Like so many of the churches I have come across in my meanderings it is really difficult to date its origin because of all the changes that were made during the history of the church, at any rate it seems to show up in history round about 1130. The chancel arch has been dated to about 1135, with major restoration being completed in 1848. A more complete history of the church may be found at its website
And like so many of these small parish churches it is not easy to get an image of the complete building, but there is at least one spot where you can make a good attempt.
My first grave was an easy one, it was amongst the first graves in the churchyard by the gate. And the churchyard was quite a nice one too, well shaded, lots of very old graves, and the occasional gem that makes you gasp. There were a number of cast iron markers in the one area, and I had seen quite a few of these in Southampton, but not too many in Basingstoke, I had also not seen this style of cast iron marker before either. They were really nice, but sadly a definite target for scrap metal thieves.
In the one corner I found two of the other graves I was looking for, as well as a really pretty collection of moss encrusted graves. These seemed to be of previous ministers of the church, and possibly a few important locals.
I still had one more private memorial to find and there was no description of what it looked like. I explored further, working my way around the church.
My soldier was a World War 2 casualty and the area was now looking much more promising, although the graves immediately next to the church all dated to the 1800’s.
I started at the top and started checking each grave, hoping that I was not looking at a toppled headstone or an illegible inscription. Then I hit paydirt and I was able to tick him off the list too. The rent was paid, now I could explore. I headed back to the rear of the church where the entrance was (the entrance does not face the lychgate), and found that the church was open. Inside I met the vicar, and he told me a bit about the church and the various war memorials in the church (of which there were 4). It is not a very ornate building though, it’s much smaller than it looks from the outside, but has a humble feel about it, and a friendly atmosphere.
Interestingly enough the oldest identifiable grave in the churchyard is that of Mary, daughter of Peter Justice, who died 14 August 1728, aged four months.
The vicar also showed me a safer route to Rotherwick which clinched my decision to head there next. All in all though this was a pleasant visit, and getting into the church was a bonus, because some of these churches have wonderful wall monuments in them, as well as war memorials to the local parishioners which seldom see the light.
Rotherwick Parish Church
My next destination was roughly 2,8 km away and a short detour would take me through Tylney Park Golf Club and past Tylney Hall Hotel
. The hotel is quite an interesting one, and I was hoping to get a chance to have a good look at it. Unfortunately as I arrived at the hotel my phone range and I had to speak to a personnel agent so ended up taking pics on the fly, and missing out on a lot of what there was to explore.
What is interesting is that in 1919 both the Hall and much of the original estate was acquired by Major Cayzer, later created Lord Rotherwick, owner of Clan Line Steamers Ltd, and the Hall became the headquarters for the shipping line.
A previous owner had been Sir Lionel Philips, but whether this is the famous Baronet from Johannesburg history I cannot say.
Irrespective though, from what I saw it was magnificent, I just wish I had been able to see more of it. Unfortunately though, my distraction did take me away from the buildings and I was not in the mood to turn back. Besides, I still had some graves to find. And that was still a long walk away.
Finally I arrived at Rotherwick, and the church was easy to find. It is not a big church, but again it is an old one, or should I rather say, there has been a church at this spot for a long time. More information about the church may be found at it’s website
There was not a lot of space in front of the church, the major part of the churchyard was behind the church and that was where my two graves were.
The churchyard was evidently still being used, and it was quite a large space, slightly separated from the original churchyard. Sadly though, at some point a lot of the old headstones had been uplifted and used as a wall at the bottom of the church. It was nicely done though, not a haphazard leaning of headstones as I had seen in so many other places.
Getting a pic of the church was difficult because of the sun, and because there was no real spot far away enough to fit it all in. I would have to go outside the churchyard to do that.
And then it was time to head off back to the station. I had two possible routes I could take. The first was to retrace my steps, and the other was to carry on with the road where the church was until I found Hook Road and turn into that one. It would take me to the one side of Hook and close to the Hook Village Garden and Cemetery. It was also the difference between a 5 km and a 3.7 km walk. I chose the the latter. (Did I mention I discovered the ruler function on Google Earth? )
The walk was uninteresting, dodging from side to side of the road to avoid blind bends and impassable pavements. I was starting to tire too, and the sun was starting to hide behind clouds that were forming. I was ready to give up for the day. I had one more church to see, and it proved to be one of those modern featureless churches, with the cemetery next to it.
The cemetery was a modern one, but there was nothing really to see, so I took a quick walk around and then headed off to the station.
It had been a productive morning. Two more sets of graves had been added to the record, and 220 images had been taken. I had seen some really nice headstones, as well as a really pretty church. I enjoy these rural settings because every now and then I see something that literally takes my breath away. Maybe it is the countryside, or the history all around me, or just maybe I feel an affinity with here, it is the type of place I have had in my mind since I was a child, and the sort of places I read about in books, and what I was seeing did not disappoint.
© DRW 2015-2018. Created 18/02/2015, images migrated 26/04/2016