St Michael and All Angels Church Weyhill

About Us

Weyhill is situated on the oldest ancient way in Britain, the "Harroway" or "Pilgrim's Way" where it crosses the old "Gold Road". It has been a centre of worship since at least the Bronze Age, 1500 BC, with its origin lost in remote antiquity. The church was mentioned in the Doomsday Book and was known as "De La Woe". Its history has been linked with the Ancient Fair, in its time the largest fair in the country.  The original meaning of fair; "Feriae" was a religious holiday, before trade took its place on which day people gathered to visit the temple and offer sacrifices.


Over the years the religious centre has passed from Barrow, to Saxon temple, to Christian Church. The church in the person of the Rector was from time immemorial a lord of the fair, with the fair starting on the dedication day of the Church, St Michael and All Angels. St Michael was a favourite dedication of an old church upon a hill when the Anglo-Saxons substituted St Michael, for Woden when they became Christians.


One relic of the Old Saxon church still remains today and that is the two ancient stones built Into the external west wall of the vestry, which are probably of the tenth century. These stones used to be near the church entrance where people used to point to the cuts on them and say, "look there's the mars of Cromwell's spear. Curse 'un, I Cursed 'un ".


Once so the legend goes: "There was a tarr'ble old Church oncet time up to Weyhill an ' when they was a minded to build a new one, they framed for to build 'un down to Rambrldge, right l' the Park, nigh to big House. But so fast they builded ' un by day, so fast the Angels did come by night and carry the stones up to the hill, where old church stood, still they was fossed to give up the job, and build him to Weyhill." This old story may well explain why the church was built in its present position at the junction of three parishes, away from any manor house.


The chancel of the church is dated from 1280, as is the base of the churchyard cross. This base may well have been placed to sanctify the limits of the churchyard when in 1285 "the king forbiddeth fairs or markets to be kept in Churchyards" although the practise of selling goods from the churchyard at a fair time continued until the 18th century.


During Fair times and Wakes in the good old days the Parson of Weyhill was bound under penalty of loosing his Easter eggs to perform all church offices for free. Weyhill had its own wake and it is recorded had a "Lovely Sunday". This may well explain some of the church records with numbers of travelling people being baptised at fair time.


The church then must have had a colourful internal appearance with Illuminated passages and bible tales illustrated on the walls. All to be obliterated with the great pillage of Edward VI. The exterior was different with the church being described as a desolate building with hardly a house situated by the Fair ground, but it must have attracted attention as Thomas Hardy used it and the for the setting of "The Mayor of Casterbridge",  the church "Weeden Priors", where Michael Henchard took his oath," was probably based on Weyhill.


The Parson has the rights to the "Glebe Land", now taken, along with the school, and sold by Church Commissioners. In the past this proved a lucrative source of income during the fairs when it was used to pen animals, as did the church sheep, which were useful for dung and produce. Each house in the district also contributed to church expenses including repair of the fences and providing the "Church Loaf' and "Ye Churche Waxe ".


The churchwardens had a duty now and then to try and raise finance for the upkeep of the church, one of the old ways recorded was for the destruction of vermin on which a tariff was paid and this included numerous "fokses, badgears, heag hoges and stotes ... including the destruction of 172 duzzen sparrers" Other duties performed included the duty of "whip the dogs out of church and the lads in", while children were encouraged to attend school room by the provision of bread, cheese and a glass of beer!


These finances and special collections were used to raise, on many recorded occasions, funds for the poor of the village and those around when disasters occurred, such as fire, plague and religious persecution.


In the churchyard can be seen a post Norman cross, which has a base of sloping sides and around mould at the bottom pearce through by painted openings. It was retooled and the cross of orange red - stone of unction - from Jerusalem inserted in 1904.


Also visible in the churchyard is a Sarsen Stone which this part of the gravestone of Doctor Williams - Freeman the well known Archaeologist who lived opposite at Weyhill Lodge.


In the interior can be seen a stone memorial to Henry Bosanquet .who lived at Clanville House who may well have been the chief customs officer involved in the Boston tea party.


An internal memorial can be seen to the Clarkes one son of 16 dying in 1828 serving on HM Acorn and the other aged 22 serving in India dying 6 months later of cholera.


The lead covering of the roof of the Nave was replaced in 1822 by Welsh slates. The three tones of lead being sold for £64.00 repairs in 1506 were carried out and ten oaks were purchased for 8s and 4p from Rambridge Wood.


The North Transept was added in 1827 to deal with the poor of the parish and later became the local school room.


In the 14th Century there were two bells with a third added in 1627, one was sold to Andover for £16.00 in 1806 when funds were low. The present tower was built in 1907 with two more bells added.


The present building has been "Improved" by the Victorians but there are many of the Church's colourful history and its benefactors in and around it.  The people of the past can be seen to live on in spirit with the heritage that they have given us.


Weyhill Church still is a holy place, worshipfull, a House of God, a refuge and a sanctuary for all people especially the people of Weyhill to whom it belongs