VCH Explore

Explore England's Past

St Michael's Church

St Michael's from south-east

Basingstoke was first served by the minster church at Basing, given to the monks of Mont St Michel by William the Conqueror, but separate churches are mentioned in a document of 1155 so the first proven church was set up by the monks, who dedicated it to their patron saint. The earliest surviving structure is the flintwork of the chancel and St Stephen’s Chapel, which, in spite of later alterations, retain traces of Norman work.

From 1233 until its dissolution in1486, the Priory at Selborne were the patrons, and in 1464, they did considerable rebuilding works in the chancel, replacing windows and the great timber roof which miraculously survived the bombing of 1940.

As Basingstoke prospered in the 15th and 16th centuries, the townspeople decided to rebuild the nave, aisles and tower. The work probably began with the tower, which appears to fit a narrower nave, and ended with the porch in 1539. The work was on a grand scale, in Perpendicular style, with a handsome arcade and great windows. The nave and south aisle were faced with expensive limestone ashlar, but not the north aisle; the chequerboard flint and stone of the north aisle are probably later. It was intended to rebuild the St Stephen’s Chapel, as there is a blocked arch between the south aisle and chapel visible both inside and outside, but this was not proceeded with.
Over the years, there were various maintenance projects, including work done by T.H.Wyatt in 1879 which included the pinnacles added to the tower.

The last major addition was the War Memorial Chapel in the north-east corner, which completes the square plan of the building. Designed by Sir Charles Nicholson in style and materials to fit into the existing structure, the chapel was completed and dedicated in September 1920.


Content derived during research for the new VCH Hampshire volume, Basingstoke and its surroundings.