The churches in the benefice are spread in age from 11th Century to mid Victorian times and just visiting these beautiful places of worship is a delight in itself.
Saint Hubert’s is a beautiful little church sitting in the field and is open every day to welcome passers by and offer a haven of peace and contemplation. A memorial stone at the start of the footpath leading to the church and a list of its incumbents contained in a picture frame in the building, all indicate that it had its beginnings in 1053.
To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven
Autumn begins and at St Hubert’s church we look back on the past seasons and rejoice in the fact that we can once again use our little church in the Idsworth valley to its full potential. Spring allowed us to open up our church for services but with many restrictions, no singing, the wearing of masks, social distancing and no host or wine at Communion. It was better than nothing, but we’ve missed the peace and fellowship of this place. Summer saw gradual change. As Covid restrictions were lifted we were able to bring music back to our church and even sing again. The churchyard was allowed to re-wild and the wildflower meadow around the church once again filled with colour. Nature knew nothing of the pandemic. The swifts returned, the skylarks sang high above the valley and we could be forgiven for thinking that the pandemic had hardly touched his quiet, peaceful place. Autumn sees a change on the hillside as crops now harvested leave the valley bare, the wild flowers are gone. The swifts fly home to Africa but on a clear morning a skylark can still be heard. Winter approaches and we start to count the cost of the pandemic on our church.
There are some who will not return to the old box pews. Death, sometimes hastened by Covid, illness and infirmity made worse by the long months of isolation and a hesitancy to embark on social activity again while the spectre of the virus continues to stalk us. Daily lives have changed forever, many feel lonely, lost and unsupported. There is much hardship and poverty (yes, even in our village).
But this enforced break in our regular pattern of services has given us a chance to reflect and ask some relevant questions about the future of our church as we seek to renew our spiritual health. It is a time to remind ourselves of who we are and why we value this place so much. A time for us all to become disciples and tell of this special place. Many folks visit the peace and tranquilly or St Hubert’s during the week, some searching for answers. They are not all people of faith but that’s okay. That hill was a sacred place long before Christianity came to our island. The planned refurbishment of our 108 year old organ can now proceed, as can the restoration work on the north side of the church. We continue to bat to our strengths.
St Hubert’s is a traditional place of worship with a regular pattern of traditional services, Matins, morning prayer and Holy Communion at 9:30am every Sunday. A quiet service of morning prayers held every Friday at 9:30am and a regular mindfulness programme is run by Jackie and Wendy. As Christmas approaches, we look forward to our carol service and the annual candlelight midnight mass on Christmas Eve and, of course, to the wedding and baptisms. So come and join us, bring the children. You will receive a warm welcome.
Don’t we all need to revive our spirits and give thanks for those who survived the past two years as well as prayerful remembrance of those dear friends who have gone before us?
Editorial: From an article in the Border Times, November 2021 by John Bates of St Hubert’s church
The Friends of the Church of St Hubert’s, Idsworth Trust
You may know ‘the Little Church in the Field’ either from the road or the train or perhaps from attending a service or wedding. It has stood there for more than a thousand years but its future now looks most uncertain. In 2016, a Charitable Trust called ‘The Friends of the Church of St Hubert, Idsworth Trust’ was formed to help raise funds to look after the building. More information about the work of The Friends can be found on their website.
Until 1864 this church was dedicated to St Peter and St Paul. The earliest written evidence for a church at Idsworth is from 1053 in the last testament of Godwin, Earl of Wessex, when Idsworth, as part of the Manor of Chalton, was granted to his son Harold Godwinson. However, archaeological evidence indicates there may have been a much earlier stone structure on the site which was re-constructed in stone and flint walls in the C10.
After the Norman Conquest Idsworth was granted to Roger Earl of Shrewsbury as a chaplaincy to the Manor of Chalton. In the latter part of the C12 Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine granted the church to the Tarrant Nunnery in Dorset and the chancel and bell turret may have been added then. The list of Rectors of Chalton and Idsworth goes back to 1305. A series of wall paintings in the church have been dated to about 1330. The church remained in the ownership of the Tarrant Nunnery until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539. During the Commonwealth, Parliament awarded the manor of Chalton to Oliver Cromwell.
The wall paintings were discovered in 1864 and the dedication of the church was then altered to St Hubert in the belief at that time that the upper wall painting on the north wall of the chancel referred to a scene from the life of St Hubert. On the 1868 25” Ordnance Survey map the church is shown including the west porch, as St Peter and St Paul Church (Chapel of Ease). By the 1897 Second Edition the building appears as St Hubert’s Church.
The chancel ceiling was restored by Goodhart-Rendel with plastered diamond panels, cable ribs, and 13 medallions (eagles, bishop, chalice, St. Hubert etc). On the inner face of the chancel arch is a painted Royal Coat of Arms of George III surrounded by the inscription “This chapel was repaired in 1793, Thomas Padwick, Chapel Warden. This chapel was repaired in 1824, Thomas Smith, Chapel Warden.’
The north side of the nave has two paired wooden windows with leaded lights and between them is a small Norman round-headed window. At the east end is a narrow blocked round-headed Norman doorway. The south side of the nave has two late Perpendicular stone two-light windows with hood-moulds. At the western corner is an incised medieval sun-dial. The bell turret at the east end of the nave has a square bell stage and a pyramidal roof.
The chancel north side has a two-light window in a stone surround. The round-arched east window is of 1912 within a medieval surround. The south side has a two-light stone window and a projecting lean-to vestry with a small lancet window facing south, a paired stone window facing east, an arched entrance facing west and an octagonal brick chimneystack with a conical roof.
The nave has a barrel-vaulted roof with wooden tie beams. At the west end is a 1912 wooden organ gallery approached up a spiral staircase. The eastern end of the nave has a large pointed chancel arch above which is the bell turret framework. On the western face of this framework is a millennium fresco in medieval style by Fleur Kelly. Nave fittings include a C14 octagonal font with quatrefoil panels with shields and emblems on a stem with trefoil panels, pews with bench ends rising to simple circular finials, C18 box pews and a double-decker C17 pulpit with a C18 tester. On the wall west of the pulpit are painted texts of two periods, now obscured.
The communion rail appears to be C18. There is a medieval piscina on the east wall and the splays of the east window have C14 painted figures of St Peter and St Paul, and two angels in the arch soffit. The small circular inset to the east window, which includes a small representation of the church, was the gift of Goodhart-Rendel. A panel north of the east window has obliterated details. A large two-tier wall painting on the north wall, dated to around 1330 depicts the life of St John the Baptist. The lower panel depicts Herod’s Feast. The upper panel, formerly thought to refer to the life of St Hubert is now considered to include further scenes of the life of St John the Baptist with the addition of the medieval legend of the ‘Hairy Anchorite‘.
In 1971 the vestry and chancel roof were restored following a fire and in 1983 the bell turret was restored.
How to find Saint Hubert’s
Finchdean, Waterlooville PO8 0BE
St Hubert Airborne pictures by Vertigo Photography www.vertigophoto.co.uk