The date of the original building is unknown, but there is evidence of the
existence of a timber-built Nave in the 13th century, possibly the, oldest
example in the South of England. Much of the woodwork is notable. The beams of
the roof and the four moulded supporting pillars, and the woodwork of the
doorways, is late -13th or early 14th century.
The unique half-timbered construction of the
west wall, seen from the exterior, has been dated by experts as 1320-1330. The
massive beams are sometimes thought to be 'ship's timbers', but the
craftsmanship and the cusping give reason to believe that they are of West
Country origin; and this is likely to be so as, John Drokensford, Bishop of Bath
and Wells, one of the Bishops of whom Edward. II wrote to the Pope, saying that
he would no longer tolerate him in his kingdom, held the Manor of Hartley
Westpall and exercised his patronage in 1324.
The first Rector was Edmund de Bedewyn. He was given charge of the Church on 2nd
January, 1286 by Isabella de Cadurcis, Prioress of Hartford Priory (near Hartley
Wintney), to which the Rectory of Hartley Wespall was annexed, and was
instituted by the Bishop on 10th May in the same year.
An extract from a record of Vestry Meetings in 1758 reads:
'Arid it was recommended to the
consideration of all
persons entitled to seats amicably to agree to such a distri-
bution of the pews, as that a man and his wife and family be
not separated during Divine Service as at present, the wives
and all females being now unreasonably and unsuitably
thrust down to the very bottom of the Church into the most
cold and disagreeable places!'
In 1868 the Church was fully restored under
Sir Gilbert Scott. (This also
applies to the organ casing). The Bell-tower and Spire were removed from the west
end, where they obscured the timbers of the west wan. and were replaced where
they now stand. The stone flints which face the outer walls were taken from the
Roman wan at Silchester,
|The marble memorial on the North
wall of the Nave commemorates the Rt. Hon. Abigail, who. by the
death of her five brothers, became the heiress of William Pitt of
Hartley Wespall. She married Raiph, Baron Stawell of Somerton in
Somerset, and died in 1692. Her memorial is a typical example of the
classical style and workmanship of the 17th century.
The window on the North side is the memorial
to William Grant Broughton, Curate of this Parish in 1818. He became the first
Bishop of Sydney, N.S.W., and later, the first Archbishop of Australasia.
|The Crucifix hanging above the
Screen is our village War Memorial : the names of the Fallen appear
on the plaque on the North wall.
||The stone tablet immediately
below the Sanctuary, on the floor of the Quire, has now only two
portions of the original brasses.
The inscription reads on the Quire tablet
'John Waspail, sometime Patron of this
Church, who went
the way of all flesh on 20th November 1448, and Jane, his
widow, relict of John Pakenham, who died 20th May 1452 are
buried here, upon whose souls may GOD have mercy. Amen.'
Hartley Wespall derives its name from the
Waspail family, one of whom, Nicholas, was Rector in 1349. He died six months
later, probably a victim of the Black Death. John Pakenham
*, mentioned above.
became Recto;' in 1454, after the death of Jane. In 1806, a Lady Catherine
Pakenham, married Sir Arthur Wellesley, then Major-General, afterwards Field
Marshal The Duke of Wellington, K.G.
|On the South side of the
Sanctuary stands the tomb of John Keate, D.D., Canon of Windsor. For
24 years he was the 'flogging' Headmaster of Eton College; and for
the following 24 years Rector of this Parish. On his death in 1852,
Old Etonians rebuilt the Chancel as his memorial. His son, John
Charles, succeeded him and held the Benefice for 45 years, and on
his death in 1894. parishioners erected the alabaster Reredos. and
Richard Durnford. Esq.. the Lychgate. to his memory.
The Rector in 1750. The Hon. Frederick
Keppel, was consecrated Bishop of Exeter in 1762. and John Fisher. Rector in
1796, was also consecrated Bishop of Exeter, in 1804.
The Organ is by Hedgeland, built in 1873. and the casing designed
Sir Gilbert Scott.
Two of the three bells have summoned parishioners to worship for over 500 years.
They were cast by Robert Crowch of London, some time between 1439 and 1450. The
Tenor bell (3cwt.) is by Samuel Knight of Reading, 1688. The tenor bell was
recast by Mears &: Stainbank in .1883. The bells can no longer be rung full
circle, but are , chimed by hammers operated from the vestry.
The Font was installed in 1842. The earliest
baptism in the Church, of which we have record, reads:
'Nota Mirabilis. Hartley Wespayll. John
the sonne of John Stirt was christened the 25th day of October A,D. 1540. Joen,
daughter of the said John was christened the 29th day of October A.D. 1540. John
another sonne of the said Stirt was christened the 30th day of October 1540.'
|The Pulpit is Jacobean. It was retained from
the old Church on the rebuilding in 1868.
The original parchment Register, opened in
1558. is still in possession of the Church. The Registers are complete since
this date, although the Register of 1677 was lost for a long period, until it
was found in an empty house in Pentonville in 1852 and returned to the Rector.
The entry concerning the death of Lord Stawell had, for no known reason, been
cut from this page.Since 1974 the ancient Parish Registers have been in the
custody of the Diocesan Archivist at Winchester.
The oldest inscription in the Churchyard is on the gravestone of William Payees,
who died in 1640. Gravestones of this age are uncommon. It Iies at the East end,
close by the wall.
Hartley Wespall has enjoyed the Patronage of the Dean and Canons of Windsor
since 1482, and from 1950. Stratfield Saye, in the gift of the Duke of
Wellington, and Hartley Wespall have been served by one incumbency. In 1973 the
Parishes were formally united.
Stratfield Saye with Hartley Wespall with
Stratfield Turgis now form a United Benefice with Sherfield-on-Loddon under one
The cross and candlesticks were designed by
John Lough borough fearson» architect of Truro Cathedral. The alabaster reredos
over the altar is the work of
Temple Moorey a pupil of G. G..Scott.
In the adjoining pariah of Stratfield Turgis,
united with Hartley Westpall since 1935, the parish church of All Saints was
declared redundant having been disused since 1970. Stained glass windows from
that church are now in the porch. The font of pre-Reformation date can be seen
outside the South door, and the stone War Memorial tablets have been placed near
The plane tree beside the lane North of the Lych Gate was planted in 1977 to
commemorate the Silver Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
has been brought to my attention that there may be an error on this page. where
it says: "John Pakenham, mentioned above. became Recto;' in 1454, after the
death of Jane." Clearly this could not have been the case, as on the inscription
Jane, who is described as the "relict" (widow) of John Pakenham. The information
I have seen is that Joan's (2nd) husband John Pakenham died in 1420, and she
then married John Wespall. Her son Hugh Pakenham (died about 1478) gained his
stepfather's lands at Hartley Wespall. However John had a brother John (d 1477)
so perhaps it was he who became became Recto;' in 1454? He was cleric, and was
Treasurer of York Minster, and an executor of the Will of Cardinal Kemp. I hope
this is useful.