History of Harnham Parish Churches
In the long history of the Church in England the parish of Harnham ranks as a recent creation. Prior to 1881 the two small but distinct communities of West and East Harnham were in the care of different incumbents. The Vicar of Coombe Bissett was responsible for the services in West Harnham while East Harnham, which did not have a church, was the responsibility of the Vicar of Britford. In 1881 West Harnham was detached from Coombe Bissett and united with East Harnham. A new church, All Saints, to serve East Harnham was consecrated in 1854.
St George's Church - West Harnham
It is certain that in or about 1115 a church was built or re-built because King Henry the first granted by charter to Salisbury Cathedral then located at Old Sarum, certain churches amongst which were the churches of Coombe and Harnham. Over the centuries the Church has been enlarged and restored. The earliest existing parts are Norman and can be seen in the small round headed windows in the north walls of the chancel and the nave. Also in a pillar of the doorway leading from the vestry into the nave which was originally the main entrance. Originally the chancel was much shorter and the entrance narrower surmounted by a circular arch.
During the 13th century the Church was re-built in the Early English style. The chancel was lengthened and a new arch to the chancel erected. About the same time a recess was scooped out of the south side of the chancel arch for one of the nave altars. The recess is plastered inside and still has a contemporary wall painting the Appearance of Christ to St Mary Magdalene in the Garden c 1300.
During the 14th century the Trinity Chapel on the south side was built. Formerly known as the Jarvoise Chapel after the family bearing that name it is now known as the Lady Chapel. In the west wall of the Chapel there is a slit which is wider on the inside of the Chapel and provides a view of the chancel. This is known as a leper`s squint or peep and suggests that there may have been a small lazar-house nearby.
Much restoration was undertaken on 1873 when an oak gallery was removed. Pews, pulpit, reading desk and other woodwork were also removed and replaced by the present ones. The west wall was re-built in brick. However the present window is more recent. The east end was also re-built and a new porch added on the west on the site of a timber leanto which had served as a sanctuary for those suffering from infectious diseases or excommunication.The tower re-built in the 19th century replaced its Norman predecessor. The church tower now contains two bells, one 14th century and the other cast in 1692.
All Saints Church - East Harnham
All Saints was built on land donated by Viscount Folkestone and consecrated in 1854. It is built of stone and cut flint, in the decorated style and comprises chancel, nave, south porch, former vestry on the north and stone gable belfry at the west end containing a single bell. The interior is simple with only an handful of memorial tablets including a large brass and marble tablet on the north wall commemorating the men of the parish who lost their lives in the 1914 -18 War. We have recently undertaken major here to extend the welcome area, install a toilet and kitchenette as part of our 150th anniversary programme work.