The Crossing St Mary’s Church, Kingsclere, Hampshire, UK
Canon EOS1000D processed using Topaz Adjust in Photoshop CS5 3 frame vertical panorama.
Furthest arch is Norman, nearest is Victorian reproduction.
The church’s size and shape, together with its dominant position in the community, show that it is no ordinary village church, The original church was shown in King Alfred’s will (AD 899) as a MINSTER serving as a centre of worship for a very extensive royal estate, and the seat of a community engaged in pastoral and educational Mission, associated with a place of occasional residence for the highly mobile royal household,
The Norman kings continued this arrangement, but donated the church and part of the royal estate to the Augustinian Canons of St Mary at Rouen in Normandy, who erected the present cruciform church about 1130-40, For themselves, the Norman kings, notably King John (1199-1216) erected a series of hunting lodges and a small castle on the crest of Cottington’s Hill overlooking Kingsclere, where the Radio and TV mast
Almost all the visible external features of the church to day, however, result from a rebuilding in 1848-9, These included the raising of the central tower and the facing of the walls with split flints, Only the circular staircase to the tower retains the original facing of limestone from the Isle of Wight in its lower part,
The “BUG”. The most celebrated feature is the weather vane! Local tradition asserts that King John prevented by fog from reaching his downland hunting lodge at Freemantle stayed at a village inn and was troubled during the night by bed-bugs, He ordered that the church should evermore display on its tower a representation of a dreaded bug, The present vane dates from 1751, but may well be a copy of its predecessor, and perhaps the line goes faithfully back to King John! Other theories are that it represents a tortoise or a dragon,