St Peter’s Church, Hayling Island, Hampshire & A Russian Princess

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On a visit to Hayling Island in June, 2017, we visited this ancient 12th century church, which had a lovely sign with the magical words…..Church Open…..that makes me so happy.  St Peter’s is the oldest church on the island and is situated in the north.  Built in 1140 and is a grade 1 listed building.


The font, like the church, dates back to the 12th century.

A little history for you……..The church was originally built in about 1140 by the monks of Jumièges Abbey not as a parish church but as a chapel of ease, Northwode Chapel, to serve the people of North Hayling for whom going to their parish church of All Saints in the south of the island was not convenient. The original building probably occupied most of what is now the nave, and was apparently built without foundations; the central pillars rested on large sarsen stones (boulders probably deposited by glaciers during the Ice Ages). Buttresses were added later to help support the walls. In the early 13th century the building was expanded to its present dimensions, with the porch being added later. It is believed that St Peter’s three bells are one of the oldest peals in England, on suspended wooden axles and half wheels. The tenor bell has been dated by the Whitechapel Foundry as from about 1350.


The church is partially surrounded by a ditch, and has a substantial graveyard. Among those buried there is Princess Yourievsky (1878-1959), a natural daughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia who was legitimised by her parents’ marriage and who spent the last 27 years of her life on Hayling Island, dying in relative poverty.




7 Replies to “St Peter’s Church, Hayling Island, Hampshire & A Russian Princess”

  1. Wonderful that this is still the original structure. Seems like a lot of them get torn down and rebuilt. Marvelous church. It’s interesting how much older the church looks in the black and white photos. I think our minds have learned to associate B & W images with oldness. 🙂

    1. Yes its amazing that it wasn’t messed around with, I suppose being on a island, although not too far from the mainland helped. I think you are right about the black and white and in our minds it related to oldness. I remember we had a black & white TV and it seemed very strange when my Dad bought a colour one, just didn’t seem right for a long time 🙂

  2. Another beautiful and fascinating ancient church – another of my favourite subjects. You’ve captured the spirit of the place so perfectly – I’m very interested in ‘place’ at the moment. Thank you for the history – it adds to the images.

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