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St John the Baptist, North Baddesley

Exterior view from the South West

The church is located on a small rise some distance from the main village. It has associations with the Knights Hospitallers, whose Preceptory was located opposite on the site of what is now an 18th century manor house. The Hopitallers link is evidenced by the presence of their crosses on shields on the roof ribs and a tomb in the chancel and the south door’s ironwork. The church consists of a nave and chancel of rubble and flint with features dating to the 14th and 15th centuries respectively, although the church is no doubt much earlier. The brick tower has an external plaque dating its construction to 1674, and also bearing the initials ST and CW. Each image is linked to a larger version; to see the larger version it may be necessary to allow 'pop-ups'.

The south porch is probably 17th century. Restoration took place in the late 19th century. Some interesting graffiti was found here, mostly around the south doorway. Striking is a large hand outline on the east side of this doorway, with another possible hand outline beneath, filled with a mesh pattern. The hand is well known to the church and was the source of inspiration for the design of a modern stained glass window opposite in the north wall. There are also names, initials and dates (some relatively recent), crosses, and some possible ritual protection or apotropaic marks in the form of double Vs and a “butterfly” shape.

Hand graffito on south doorway   VV on south doorway   Initials on south doorway
Hand outline on east of south doorway   Double V marsk   Recent initials

The wooden screen bears the initials TF and date 1602 and is thought to come from North Stoneham church, thus linking the initials to Thomas Fleming. The pulpit seems contemporary and bears the well carved initials I M.

Screen with TF initials   IM initials on pulpit
Screen with initials   Initials on the pulpit


The gallery was apparently built in 1822 but contains earlier timbers. The top of the supporting king post has an impressive group of 23 overlapping compass-drawn circles at the top, which could be apotropaic in function. Along the top of the south angled brace joining it are a number of incised letters, including many Ms and Ws which may well be protective also.

King post in gallery   Circles in gallery   VV marks in gallery
King post in gallery   Overlapping compass circles   Incised letters

 

A team from Southampton Archaeology Society (SAS) visited the church on 11th September 2018. The team consisted of M Dowell, G&R James, S Hanna, S&D Stewart, K Wardley and B&J Webb.

For further information please contact Karen Wardley.