Astoft

Breamore, Hampshire - St Mary's Church
11th Century

Click on photos to enlarge.
Notes in italics from Hampshire and the Isle of Wight by Nikolaus Pevsner and David Lloyd (1967)
Yale University Press, New Haven and London.



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Breamore is by far the most important and interesting Anglo-Saxon monument in Hampshire. There are no documentary indications of its date, but c.1000 is likely. The church is what one would call in a Romanesque, i.e. in England a Norman, church cruciform, but the Anglo-Saxon mason was not aware of the order which a true Romanesque church the square of the crossing imposes on the rest. At Breamore the crossing is a square, and the nave is of the same width, but neither the chancel nor the transepts are. Of the chancel only the W ends of N and S walls are Anglo-Saxon, but the S transept survives complete, and that is considerably smaller and lower than the nave, a characteristic of Early Christian (Milan) and early medieval churches on the Continent as well - as against Romanesque ones. Moreover, the surviving arch from the crossing to the S transept is narrow, thereby destroying the spatial unity which is implied in the cruciform Romanesque plan ...


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Anglo-Saxon long-and-short quoins on crossing tower and south transept. The entire masonry of the south transept is Anglo-Saxon except for the east doorway which is Norman. 

Early 14th century chancel with reticulated east window. Roof-line of the original Saxon chancel can be seen. On the north side of the nave two deeply splayed Saxon windows. On crossing tower roof-line of original north transept.

West end of church,
no Saxon remains.


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The south porch entrance and the doorway inside are Norman (12th century). Upper part of the porch is 15th century but the re-set arch is 13th century. The half-timbered gable is modern. Above the S doorway, i.e. in the porch, is a monumental Saxon rood in relief. The figures are all laboriously hacked off, but it is clear that we have here exactly the same kind of rood as at Headbourne Worthy, only that Christ here, as against Headbourne and Romsey, is bent by suffering in a way which anticipates the Gothic. especially the arms, raised like wings, are unforgettable, though the bent body is even more like the C13 or early C14. 


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The chancel arch and the W arch of the crossing tower are four-centred and probably late C14. They have much decoration with large nobbly leaves. The chancel itself is over-restored, but the reticulated tracery of the E window indicates an early C14 date. 


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The Anglo-Saxon S transept arch has a square capital-cum-abacus with a rope motif along top and bottom and an inscription round the unmoulded arch reading: 'HER SPUTELAD SEO GECPYDRAEDNEC DE' (Here the covenant is explained to thee).

Deeply splayed Saxon window on north side
of nave.

Looking west from
crossing tower.

 

Dscn1912-rotcrp-u1.5-540-u0.3.JPG (78562 bytes) View of the Breamore House from the church - Elizabethan Dscn0331-u-540.jpg (53789 bytes) Cottage by the church
 

Map

 

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