The Old Church

Dedicated to St. Peter, the old Church stood close to the Manor House.  An ancient edifice it is thought to have been dated from the 14th century, its builder probably being the famous William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester from 1367 to 1404. Its dimensions, given by Hoare, were, a nave 49 feet long, by 34 feet 6 inches wide, the chancel 23 feet 6 inches long, by 13 feet 6 inches wide, and a tower 9 feet square.
According to a description given in the parish registers the tower and nave were built of chalk and flint, but the chancel was a very handsome structure. Formed of alternate squares of Chilmark stone and flint it was surmounted by a parapet of beautifully carved stones, and ornamented with the arms of the See of Winchester. A few of these carved stones are still preserved on a rockery in the gardens of the Manor House including one bearing the crossed keys and dagger, part of the arms of the See. The tower contained three bells, the oldest having been cast in the reign of one of the Edwards, which one it seems; could not be identified. A copy of an etching preserved in the present Church shows it to have had a “barrel or wagon” roof.
This Church was pulled down in 1813 and all traces of it virtually swept away. The reasons for this drastic step were given in the faculty granted at the time by John Fisher, Bishop of Salisbury, as “it being in a serious and dilapidated state” and also “the present situation not being convenient.”
During the demolition, part of a pinnacle belonging to a still older Church was discovered, bearing evident marks of rich sculpture, and also a few ancient paving tiles. In the interval between the destruction of this Church and the completion of the new, a faculty was granted for services to be held in a room used as a private chapel “by Francis Dugdale Astley in his mansion house of Everley.”
Materials from the old building were partly used in making a foundation to the new one, and afterwards in erecting; the present churchyard wall, but they were of little value, exclusive of the lead.
In the “King’s Book,” a record compiled by order of King Henry VIII at the time of the Dissolution, the value of the Rectory was given as £16-4-41/2