Sunday, 12 May 2019

St Edward the Confessor, Netley

St Edward's sits close by the impressive ruins of Netley Abbey, the best preserved Cistercian House in the south of England. The village and its church, however, are creatures of the 19th century, and particularly the establishment of the Royal Victoria Military Hospital in 1856: the hospital, once the longest single building in the world, was demolished in 1966 (though its chapel still remains).

St Edward's was built in 1886 to the designs of J D Sedding, one of the most noted Victorian church architects, perhaps best known for Holy Trinity, Sloane Street. The exterior is handsome, with the offset square tower providing a pleasing focal point, as one crosses the spacious lawned churchyard. The nave and tower both have long lancet windows; the round west window is an interesting composition, with a single large quatrefoil containing four trefoils.

The interior is a little disappointing: the long, whitewashed nave delivers something of a tunnel effect from the west end; things improve moving eastwards towards the chancel, as the two-bay aisles (set where one would expect the transepts) provide more visual interest and the careful detailing becomes apparent. It has a fine red marble pulpit, font and low chancel wall (in place of a rail). In the south aisle is a rather badly damaged monument rescued from Netley Abbey (originally placed in the castle) of a knight, c. 13th century.

St Edward the Confessor, Netley Abbey, Southampton SO31 5FE

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