Discover the historic churches at the heart of New Forest communities

Frank Green at the launch of the second Discovery leaflet at St Mary, Copythorne, with the Rev John Reeve, Priest in Charge of St Mary, Copythorne, and team vicar of St Matthew, Netley Marsh

Published Monday 21 October 2013

The New Forest’s churches have been at the centre of local communities since at least the forest’s formation over 900 years ago and many trace their origin to a much earlier period.

The cultural importance of these buildings has been celebrated recently by a new leaflet from the New Forest National Park Authority, which provides a fascinating insight into five historic local churches.

The leaflet is the second to focus on the cultural history of New Forest churches, and provides information on St Mary at Eling, St Mary at Copythorne, St John The Apostle at Marchwood, Christ Church at Colbury and St Matthew at Netley Marsh.

The churches are of considerable historical significance, with items of interest ranging from a fine and unusual 13th century chancel arch at St Mary at Eling, to an unaltered 135-year-old pipe organ at St John The Apostle.

New Forest National Park Authority Archaeologist Frank Green said: ‘We have put together the leaflet to promote the churches so that visitors may enjoy the historic and religious content.

‘To many communities the church is the oldest surviving building and churches form the largest number of Grade One Listed buildings in the country.’

The Rev John Reeve, Priest in Charge of St Mary, Copythorne, and team vicar of St Matthew, Netley Marsh, said both churches have been undergoing restoration, with St Mary’s finding £80,000 for redecoration and roof repairs raised through grants, local businesses and community donations. These included a £4,000 grant from Hampshire and the Islands Historic Churches Trust and a further £2,500 Partnership Grant from the National Churches Trust to St Mary’s.

The Rev Reeve said: ‘The churches in the New Forest form part of the cherished landscape. They are places of gathering over many generations in both times of joy and sorrow and, as such, are treasured and hallow places within our local communities.

‘We are delighted that with this recent project the community has shown a real ownership of the church and we are now working towards the next phase with the restoration of our church organ.’

You can pick up the leaflet at the New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst or download online at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/churches.

For more details about the Hampshire and the Islands Historic Churches Trust visit www.hihct.org.uk.

-ends-

Notes to Photo Editors:

New Forest National Park Authority Archaeologist Frank Green at the launch of the second Discovery leaflet at St Mary, Copythorne, with the Rev John Reeve, Priest in Charge of St Mary, Copythorne, and team vicar of St Matthew, Netley Marsh. Both churches feature in the leaflet.

Notes to Editor:

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more.

Media Contacts:
Hilary Makin, Communications Manager, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646608
Email: hilary.makin@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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