St Mary’s comes as a great surprise since it is a rarity, an unrestored red-bricked Georgian church built between 1768-71. The pathway from the road to the church with its dominating crenellated tower, is 100 yards long and made up of old tombstones which lie like stepping stones in the grass.
Inside there is a marvellous sense of light enhanced by the barrel ceiling of the nave painted in an attractive light blue. All the windows are of plain glass, apart from a small Crucifixion scene in the East window with four roundels alongside depicting Wheat ( the Bread of Life ), a Rose, Grapes and a Lily.
The blue reredos behind the altar has the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments written on it in gold lettering.
A great two-decker pulpit capped by a carved canopy dominates the nave. The rest of the nave is filled by high box pews, many of which have seats on three sides facing into the middle. The largest, with carved interior, was reserved for Avington House.
The pulpit and pews are made of Spanish mahogany said to have been taken from an Armada galleon captured by the Duke of Effingham. All the pews have wall pegs for hanging wigs on. At the west end the marble font is of unusual vase shape. Above it is a musicians’ gallery, with two rows of seats for the musicians and a barrel organ dating from 1830 which can still be used. Hanging from the gallery are the arms of King George III dated 1771.
A fine set of five bells has recently been hung following a substantial bequest and fund raising. The church remains largely unaltered and its congregation continues to favour traditional forms of worship.
Located on the South side of the river Itchen, Avington is a small community built around Avington Park – a private house set in stunning grounds but available to hire for corporate and private events: http://www.avingtonpark.co.uk/
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