Parts of this beautiful historic church date back to the 12th century.
The brick entrance porch is dated 1643 and the large oak door is as old as the church. As you enter you see opposite an arcade of three bays with semicircular arches. The west bay, on the left, is larger than the others and dates back to the 13th century. The tower, also 13th century, has walls a metre thick. There are four bells and a shingle spire. Unusually the bells are fixed and are rung with strikers.
The last major addition was by Thomas Massey, who built on the chancel in 1865. He held the living for 62 years and also built the adjacent massive Massey’s folly.
The famous naturalist Gilbert White was curate for 25 years, from 1761. He regularly rode over from his home in Selborne, where he was also the curate at various times.
Jane Austen walked over to the church from nearby Chawton.
The large and attractive churchyard is unusually well kept. There is an elegant Georgian Cross near the porch and next to one of the ancient Yew trees. A famous gravestone records the death of Mary Windebank who was dragged from her four poster bed and murdered for the bags of money she kept under her bed. The bed can just be seen on the gravestone but the lengthy inscription is now impossible to read.
A recently produced and well illustrated ‘Brief Guide’ is available for sale in the church.