St Nicolas

About St Nicolas

St Nicolas, North Stoneham is the ancient parish church, dating from the 15th century and of considerable historical importance. It has a fine peal of bells and has a traditional ‘country church’ feel about it. There is a small but loyal congregation that meets every Sunday morning, and offer a warm welcome to all at its 10:30am service. Worship is strongly Eucharistic.

St Nicolas is a popular venue for Baptisms and Weddings, being greatly valued locally as a traditional church of great attractiveness.

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Bells and Music

Music

St Nicolas’ Church Choir is a small but dedicated group of church members who assist at the singing of Sunday morning services. A weekly practice is normally held on Fridays, between 7.30 and 8.30 pm. A supplemented choir is often available to assist at weddings by request.

The organ is a single manual instrument of eleven stops, build by Positive Organ Co around 1935. A specification is available on the National Pipe Organ Register

🔔Bells

St Nicolas’ has a long history of bell ringing and the current ring of ten bells was once the lightest ten in the country. It is unusual for such a small church to have ten bells and the ring is accommodated on two frames one above the other. The lower frame is partly made up of the 17th century frame from the earliest recorded installation of bells in St Nicolas. The bells are rung every Sunday for 10:30 service, at weddings by request and on other occasions such as the annual Friends of St Nicolas’ concert. Detailed information about the bells can be downloaded here.

👥Bell Ringers

The St Nicolas Band is small but enthusiastic and very friendly and has several families amongst the members; our ages range from 7 to over 70, and we have a good tradition of social activities and ringing outings. We welcome visitors who either just want to see what goes on in the tower, or who may be interested in learning to ring. Come down to one of our practises on Tuesday evenings from 7.30 pm to 9.00. You need not be from the parish; many of our ringers attend other churches or none at all. We also warmly welcome ringers who may be visiting the area or who have just moved into the locality – come and give us a try. If you would like to ensure we will be practicing, please contact the Tower Captain by email: bells@nsab.org.uk

Map

St Nicolas’ Church, Stoneham Lane, Southampton, SO50 9NW

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History

A brief history of St Nicolas’. (Click on the tabs below for more.)

Origins

The land on which St Nicolas’ Church stands (along with the rest of the parish and much of England) was originally owned by the crown. In 932 King Athelstan gave the land by charter to his Theign, Alfred, who in turn gave it to Hyde Abbey in 941. This was the beginning of the manor of Stoneham Abbitas (later North Stoneham), which would exist largely unchanged until at least 1850. Some historians have suggested that there was a church at North Stoneham as early as 885, though this is disputed. However a church certainly existed by the time of the Doomsday Book in 1086, which would have been constructed of wood. The first recorded Rector was installed in 1248.

The founding of the current stone church cannot be dated precisely. Originally there would have been only the central section of the current church, without the north or south aisles. Evidence exists to suggest the north aisle of the church was added before 1534, so the original central section must have been well before this. The earliest reference to the church having been dedicated to St Nicolas (without an ‘h’) also comes from 1534.

Croatian Stone

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.

croatianstone

Reformation

At the disollution of the monasteries in 1538, ownership of the manor of North Stoneham reverted to the crown. King Henry VIII then gave the manor to the Earl of Southampton, ending 600 years of ecclesiastical ownership. In 1559 Queen Elizabeth introduced the Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity, which the Rector of North Stoneham (Thomas Securis) rebelled against, along with the Bishop of Winchester and many others. He was ‘ejected’, and replaced with our first Church of England Rector in 1559.

Additions

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 (see video below). 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.

guyfawkes

WWII

During the second world war a German bomber on its way home unloaded its unused ‘cargo’, which hit St Nicolas’ Church.The roof, organ and choir stalls were badly damaged, and all of the windows were shattered. Repairs were made over time, with some of the stained glass windows being replaced with plain glass. Fragments of the old windows were saved and used to create shields to add to the plain windows. In 1951 a new east window was dedicated.

In 1953 St Nicholas’ became a Grade II* listed building.

Look Around

Drag the image below to pan around the church.

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