Tour of Bell Tower is part of St Mary Bourne Village Weekend
9 Sep 2001

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As part of the Village Weekend - see earlier item - the Bell Tower of St Peters Church, St Mary Bourne was opened to the public, enabling people to see the village from a new perspective.

(Extract from Souvenir Programme)

You are very welcome to visit St Mary Bourne's oldest building. For most of the last millennium, the Church has stood as a witness to the Christian faith of countless generations of village residents. Possibly there was a simpler, wooden church here even before that, from Saxon times. But whilst it is ancient, it also points to the present reality and relevance of God. We are very grateful to those, who in living memory have cared for the church, and enabled it to serve the community simply by being here.
For in Church, as well as the week by week Sunday services, we welcome the very young in Baptism, share in the joy of weddings and, in funerals, celebrate the lives of those who have died. Recent projects have emphasised our service of, and place in, the community. The many varied kneelers show the range of Clubs, Societies and interests in the village of the 1990s. The beautifully embroidered banner was dedicated in 2000, as was the millennial stone near the font. Heard but not seen, the Church bells ring out along the valley and over the hills after their rehanging in 1997. All of these are the result of the support and generosity of the village.
As you come into the Church you may first wish to offer a prayer for us all - we value it! The first stone church was built in Norman times, cl 150, and was much smaller than the one we now see. Soon after that, and for reasons that are now not at all obvious, the black marble font was brought here. It is a medieval treasure, worked in Tournai, in what is now Belgium, and brought here by boat. There are three others, all of different designs, in Hampshire - the nearest in Winchester Cathedral seven in the whole country. So why is one here? No one knows.
When the north and south aisles were built, enlarging the small Norman church, why did they not build the pillars opposite one another? No one knows. Gradually over the years, the Church has changed: the square tower was added, with its ring of bells. There are traces of the zeal of the puritans in destroying statues and beautiful carvings there was a lot of civil war activity around this area - note the chisel marks in the stone border above the effigy of a crusader in the Wyke chapel. Above the lectern, which dates from 1700, is a depiction of the royal coat of arms of Charles II, which was displayed in many churches on his restoration. A partially restored biblical text on the wall has reminded villagers since the 17th Century tobe "kind and gentle harted". If you are interested in reading more, the Church guide fives a fuller history of St Peter's, and there is a leaflet interpreting the medieval font.
The Church tells its own story. But the most important story it tells is of the love of God shown to us in the life of Jesus Christ. We hope that in it you will find something to inspire you and encourage you on your way.

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Copyright Sir George Young Bt. 2015