Wedding photography - St. Marys Church, Alverstoke
Wedding photography at St. Marys Church, and what is still known locally as Alverstoke Village, lie within half a mile of the shore of Stokes Bay and near the head of a creek which extends a mile westward from Portsmouth Harbour. Up to the early 19th Century the parish was about 4.5 miles from North to South and 2.5 miles from East to West. It was bounded on the East by Portsmouth Harbour, on the South by the Solent and on the West mainly by the Parish of Rowner. On the North it adjoined Fareham and Titchfield parishes. Large parts of the North and East of the parish were formed into separate parishes between 1840 and 1913. Thus the parish, which was once a large agricultural one containing the villages of Alverstoke and Gosport now comprises a smaller and mainly residential area within the Borough of Gosport. “Alverstoke” is a corruption of the name Alvara, a former Lady of the Manor, and Stoke a settlement on the area known as the Marsh Ground.
St. Marys Church is not mentioned in the Domesday Book. The first known reference to its existence is dated 1122. There is slender evidence to support the belief that there was a Saxon church at Alverstoke and that this was succeeded by a Norman church entirely rebuilt in 1625. In 1724 the roof was raised and in about 1737 a gallery was built at the West end. In 1834 the nave was rebuilt between the older tower and chancel.
The present church was built in three stages. In 1863 the old chancel was demolished and the present chancel extended further east and the first bay of the present nave and aisles were built onto the old nave. In 1885 the remaining four bays of the nave and aisles were built, the roof coming above the top of the old tower.
The present tower was built in 1904/5 to commemorate the end of the South African War. (The tower has 8 bells weighing between 183 kg and 681 kg and are in memory of those who fought and fell in the 1914-18 war).
The church is a fine example of Victorian Gothic and is listed by the Ministry of the Environment as a building of special architectural or historic interest.
As with all wedding photography, there’s nothing like a grand door to shoot in front of. As you enter the church through the South door, facing you on the North wall is a list of the names of all the Rectors of Alverstoke from 1290 until the present day. The list includes many men of considerable distinction, one of whom was Samuel Wilberforce who was Rector of Alverstoke from 1840-45 and the stained glass window above the main altar was given in his memory and a brass plaque in the sanctuary records this fact.
Wedding photography relies on good light. Many of the stained glass windows are memorials to others associated with Alverstoke as are also the font, pulpit and lectern. On the North wall is a memorial to those from the parish who fell in the first and second world wars. St. Mary’s was bombed in 1941 but fortunately not drastically devastated. One major area of damage was the Lady Chapel where the stained glass windows were blown out and were beyond repair. These were replaced with windows of local interest bearing the seal of the “Men of Alverstoke”, and the crest of the Borough of Gosport, and traditional symbols associated with St. Mary.
St. Marys today has two daughter churches. St. Faith’s in Tribe Road is the successor of the Mission Room opened at Leesland in 1887. It was completed in 1909 and reconstructed internally in 1977 to provide both a church and social centre. St. Francis’ in Clayhall Road was built in 1905 as a Church Institute and following various uses was adapted as a church in 1960-61. To the East of the church is the Old Rectory, known today as Stokehurst, which was in use as such until 1947.
Ellie and James made a great choice in getting married at this wonderful church. The reception was held at HMS Collingwood with the weather well and truly on their side. Here’s a selection of shots from their day.