The Old Tower

 

The old tower which stands in the churchyard at St John the Baptist Church is all that remains of the first ‘Chapel of Ease’ built on this site in 1828. The land was given to the Reverend William Garnier, Rector of Droxford, by the Bishop of Winchester. Prior to this Chapel being built parishioners belonged in Droxford parish but because Droxford is a fair distance from Shedfield, parishioners used to worship at either Wickham or Bishops Waltham. Shedfield became an Ecclesiastical Parish in 1843. The chapel eventually seated 272 parishioners but after 40 years the roof of the chapel began to leak and at a vestry meeting in 1873, Frederick Townsend proposed that a new church should be built in its place.

By the late 1980s the Old Tower was in a state of serious disrepair, and posed a danger from falling masonry, etc.

Largely at the initiative of the late Eve Evans, a previous verger and sacristan at St John’s, an imaginative project was launched to renovate the tower, with wildlife in mind. With the help of several dedicated parishioners including Cynthia Tester, Anne Bailey and Betty Daysh, and with the support of local architect Richard Guion and David and Madge Goodall of the Hampshire Bat Group, the Shedfield Old Tower Conservation Society (SOTCS) was founded in 1992.

This restoration project was entirely independent from the church. Financial support was given by many local organisations including the Hampshire Buildings Bureau and the Shedfield Parish and Winchester City Councils. Following a major fundraising effort, the breakthrough for the completion of the project was a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Restoration of The Old Tower was completed at a cost of approximately £35,000, and it was officially ‘opened’ by Chris Packham in 1999. It is a Grade II Listed building, incorporates a ground floor exhibition, and includes a hibernaculum for bats on the top floor.

The SOTCS was wound up in February 2016 and management of the tower passed to the church. The Old Tower is open to the public several times a year, and by arrangement.

For further information or visits, please contact the parish office.