St Mary’s Parish Church & old cemetery
The parish church of St. Mary
is a grade one listed building steeped in history. Basing was once an important place in north-east Hampshire and this is reflected by the size of its church: a huge triple-gabled building with a strong central tower. The building was originally built of ‘Hampshire diamond’ flints, but rebuilds have largely replaced this with local Tudor brickwork.
The church today is mainly 16th century but there is visible evidence of its earlier roots. The earliest mention of a church in Old Basing was in 1077. The original wooden church was rebuilt in stone in 1089 but the oldest structural features of the present building date from the early 12th century. St Mary’s is well worth a visit, not least because it gives a chance to relive history. It suffered at the hands of the victorious Roundheads during the siege of Basing House, and bullet holes from that war are still visible (as indeed they are at nearby Basing House and the Great Barn).
Such was the destruction heaped upon St Mary’s by the puritan troops of Cromwell that only the statue of the Virgin Mary remained intact. Tradition says it was hidden by a covering of ivy. At the restoration, the building was in such a poor state that there was a national appeal for the relief and restoration of ‘Desolate Basing Church’ which had have been “demolished, the seats and pulpits burned and bells and other ornaments plundered and taken away, the window ledges used as breastworks with firing platforms beneath them; the walls had been breached and the lead roofs disappeared.The Friends of St Mary’s
helps to maintain and refine St. Mary’s Church. Further information from: The Friends of St. Mary’s, The Vicarage, Church Lane, Old Basing, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG24 7DJ. The PIOCC Conservation Group (see club’s and societies for contact details) looks after the church grounds including a conservation area.