St James-Without-the-Priory-Gate

The Church

The history of this ancient church, the oldest part of which dates back to 1040, is closely connected with the priory founded by Henry I at Portchester in 1133. It was relocated 20 years later close to the church at Southwick. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538 Henry VIII sold the monastic estates to John Whyte and he was granted the office of Lay Prior. To this day the Master of Southwick holds this office and the church is known as the Lay Peculiar of Southwick being exempt from diocesan jurisdiction.

Enter by the West Door, under the tower and the 17th century panelled gallery with its supporting moulded posts, and the eye is caught by the blue painted barrel ceiling of the nave. To the right is the impressive three decker pulpit of 1605 and behind it a large box pew originally for the ladies of Southwick House with the Squire's Pew opposite on the north side. Both are de luxe versions immaculately padded with blue cloth. Until 1955 the nave was full of boxed pews but these have been replaced by modern pews made by the estate workers, following the ravages of death watch beetle.

The beautiful black altar table is Elizabethan and behind is a large reredos containing an 18th century painting of a dove and cherubs by an Italian artist. The altar rails are Jacobean as are the massive brass altar candlesticks presented by Richard Norton, Master of Southwick in the early 17th century. High on the south side of the Sanctuary are three plaques. One shows a Saracens Head, one the Norton Arms and the third a Golden Lion.

The north side of the chancel is dominated by the large tomb chest of John Whyte the first Lay Prior who died in 1567. On it are brasses of himself, his wife and their children. Above is a canopy with heraldic shields and family crests. The north panel is very weathered and it seems likely that the tomb once stood in the Priory grounds.

This information and picture come from the pages written by John Symonds for the Waterlooville's On-Line Parish Magazine. Link here.


Dove's reference for the bells:

Southwick, Hants, St James-without-the-Priory-Gate, 6, 5-0-10 in B. 


Map reference  :  SU626086

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This site has been constructed by, and remains the copyright of, its authors,
Edwin and Sheila Macadam,

Shelwin, 30, Eynsham Road, Botley,
Oxford OX2 9BP
July 2001 -