A history of St Mary's Church
St Mary’s in Kings Worthy has a varied and fascinating history. The oldest part of the church, including the tower, doorway and font base, dates back to Norman times. But what can be seen now is largely the work of Victorian restorations.
The roof structure is medieval and until the Reformation there was a rood screen and loft. The interior was “modernised” around 1737 with a flat ceiling, a large wooden gallery and probably box pews. The Church was restored to gothic form in sweeping alterations during 1849 at a cost then of £700 (now over £50,000). These included the removal of ceilings and gallery, the rebuilding of the north wall and the addition of a new south aisle. The north wall was rebuilt again in 1864 when a new longer chancel and vestry were created and the nave, roof and south aisle were extended. The Victorians also moved the font from the east end of the church to its current position. The font is 14th Century on a Norman base of Purbeck marble and is said to be one of the finest in Hampshire.
The side chapel was added in 1884 and there have been subsequent modifications over the years including the organ, porch screen, clock and heating systems. The Church Rooms were built in 1998 following a fundraising campaign. More recently there has been a new altar rail, platform and audio visual system with screens.
Inside the church, the names of the rectors are recorded from 1290. There are also many memorials of note, including that of four sons from one family killed during World War 1. Their names are also included on the Bryce Stewart Memorial in the churchyard. In the choir stalls regimental shields remember those killed from the village during World War 2. Over recent years much research has been carried out to ensure all those who gave their lives are remembered. At the back of the church is a small gold plaque dedicated to A.V Barker, a local man who drowned aged 19 when the Titanic sunk in 1912.
All photos courtesy of the Worthys Local History Group