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Welcome to St Thomas of Canterbury a church steeped in history.

There has been a Christian place of worship on this site for more than 800 years. In the 1100s it consisted of a nave, shorter than today's, and an apse. The three sarsen stones in the churchyard are often cited as evidence there  was pagan worship here before Christian times.  

The name Tangley is Anglo-Saxon. The earliest reference, in 1174, calls it Tangelea, meaning a wood or clearing (leah) on a tongue, or perhaps tongues, of land. The church stands between two of the small dry valleys that run down towards Hatherden. In the Domesday Book Tangley appears as part of Faccombe. It remained part of Faccombe manor until the middle of the 13th century.

Early history

The bishop of Winchester consecrated the chapel here in the early 1300s, but it remained dependent on Faccombe  until the present church was built in the 1870s.  

For reasons lost in the mists of history, the bishop did not consecrate the churchyard, so the villagers still had to bear their dead for burial to Netherton, where the church for the manor of Faccombe was at that time. They petitioned Bishop William of Wykeham in 1390, complaining of the difficulty of carrying corpses the four miles to Netherton. The road down to the Bourne valley and up again the other side must frequently have been muddy. There was a commission to enquire into the truth of the matter but the bishop's records do not say what conclusion it came to.  Commissions of enquiry are not just a 20th century invention!

William Cobbett

The Roman road from Winchester to Cirencester passes within 300 yards of the church, and drove roads nearby led north into Berkshire from Weyhill Fair, but Tangley was always remote. William Cobbett, who published his Rural Rides in 1821, relates:

I rode up to the garden wicket of a cottage and asked the woman, who had two children and who seemed to be about thirty years old, which was the way to Ludgershall, which I knew could not be above four miles off. She did not know! A very neat, smart and pretty woman; but she did not know the way to this rotten borough, which was, I was sure, only about four miles off! 'Well, my dear, good woman,' said I, 'but you have been at Ludgershall?' 'No.' 'Nor at Andover?' (six miles another way). 'No.' 'Nor at Marlborough?' (nine miles another way). 'No.' 'Pray, were you born in this house?' 'Yes.' 'And how far have you ever been from this house?' 'Oh! I have been up in the parish and over to Chute.' That is to say, the utmost extent of her voyages had been about two and a half miles.

Tangley in 1835

An 1835 Report of the Commissioners of Ecclesiastical Revenue offers a glimpse of Tangley two years before Queen Victoria came to the throne.  It said "William Lance became incumbent (of Faccombe with Tangley) in 1792. The living was in the gift of Rev JE Lance. The population of Faccombe was 290 and Tangley 283. Accommodation (presumably the number of pews in the church) was 300 at Faccombe and 150 at Tangley. Average gross income of the living £695."

William Lance was rector for 56 years. A plaque in the sanctuary in Tangley church says he died on 21 January 1848 at the age of 86.

Rebuilding of the church

The  church was completely rebuilt in the early 1870s. A brass plaque on the north side of the sanctuary says it was completed in 1875 by the Revd Charles Henry Everett, who was rector here for 38 years. The tower and ashlar-faced steeple were added in 1898.  

The architect who rebuilt the church, with its 14th century-style windows and flint walls, was William White. He it was who had built the brick churches in nearby Hatherden and Smannell, 18 years earlier. He also built Lyndhurst parish church, in the New Forest, and that at Linkenholt, near Faccombe.  

All that apparently remains of the mediæval chapel is part of the sanctuary arch and the twin Saxon-type windows above it. Curiously the sanctuary arch is slightly off-centre. The present apse was built on the site of the original one.

There are two other artefacts that may have been inherited from the ancient church, the font and the sanctus bell in the tower. The font is decorated with roses, fleurs-de-lis and thistles. This dates it neatly as being early 17th century, from the time of James I or possibly Charles I.

The bells

The sanctus bell is 100 years older. It was cast in 1522 and has a medallion portrait of Henry VIII cast on its waist. It is thought to have been cast by John Tonne. It hangs in the steeple, above the loft where the main peal of six bells hangs. One of these, the 3rd, was cast in1752 by James Borough of Devizes. Four new bells were added in 1900, cast by Mears and Stainbank, of Whitechapel. They were presented by Henry Merceron, who lived at Tangley House, in commemoration of the 63rd year of Queen Victoria's reign. The sixth, cast by Whitechapel Foundry, was added in 1996 in memory of Joyce Mabel Beeby.

The organ and the west window

The single-manual pipe organ replaced a harmonium and was given in memory of George Beavis by his widow. Mr Beavis was churchwarden and master of the ringers.

The small window in the tower was designed from a drawing by William White. Its two lights represent the Good Shepherd and St John the Baptist. It was installed in 1886 in memory of Miss Jane Carter, known to the parishioners as Lady Carter, of Yew Tree Cottage.

Amalgamation with Hatherden

The ancient ecclesiastical parish of Tangley was amalgamated with its southerly neighbour, Hatherden, in 1977.


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