The Croation Stone (1491)
In 1491 a group of Croatian sailers (numbers and names unknown) died whilst on a voyage to trade in Southampton. A large commemorative stone (pictured) can still be seen in front of the altar, though it is not known precisely why the stone was sited at St Nicolas’ rather than any other Southampton church. For many years an annual memorial service was held in the church, attended by the local Croatian community.
During the incumbency of Lewis Alcock (from 1593-1647) the south aisle was added to the church along with the current tower, all funded by the Rector himself. This work coincided with the manor (and patronage of the church) being purchased by Sir Thomas Fleming, beginning the parish’s long association with the Fleming family. Thomas Fleming went on to hold high government office, including Lord Chief Justice, and is remembered as the man who tried Guy Fawkes. He and his wife have an elaborate memorial in the church.
By 1886 the church had fallen into a state of serious disrepair, which was thoroughly documented by the newly installed Rector, Elliot Kenworthy Browne. Major restoration work started a year later. This included excavating the floor to install a new hot air heating system, aimed at tackling the church’s serious damp problem. The roof was also replaced, gutters and drainage installed, and masonry restored. The internal wood-panelled ceiling dates from this work. The internal furnishings were re-ordered, including the removal of the two pulpits, to be replaced with a new oak pulpit in 1898. Wood from the old pulpits was used to carve a two seater sedile which would be used first at St Nicolas and later at St Michael & All Angels.