The Church of St Thomas à Becket, Warblington
The church dates back to Saxon times, when Warblington was
a much larger settlement and the town of Emsworth didn't
exist, only the centre portion of the Saxon Tower still
remains. Medieval documents refer to the Church of Our Lady
(or St Mary) of Warblington but the present dedication is to
St Thomas à Becket. This change of name took place in 1796.
The Church of St Thomas à Becket remained as the parish clhurch of Warblington and Emsworth untill the 19th century when St James, North Street, was built by public subscription and consecrated in 1840.
In the thirteenth century the church was rebuilt between 1290 and 1340 as a consequence of the rapid growth of Emsworth:
· A new nave was constructed to the west of the old building
· A Chancel arch inserted in the lower part of the tower
· the tower was also built up to be clear of the new nave roof
· In1300 the Chancel was rebuilt on the foundations of the old church,
· a chapel was added to the north (now the Vestry)
· In 1340 the North Porch was built.
Further rebuilding took place in the 16th century and after a period of neglect in 19th century when a spire was added to the tower.
On Sunday 16th January 2011 it was found that a fire had broken out in the first front two pews of the church which caused extensive smoke damage before it was extinguished. Restoration is now complete and the church rededicated by Bishop Christopher on Sunday 31st July.
Warblington churchyard occupies an area of a little over an acre and was probably extended northwards in the early 19th century. It was closed in 1894 when the new urban district cemetery was constructed. There are around 630 monuments in the churchyard. All but a few date from the early 18th century through to the end of the 19th century The earliest surviving memorial is to Thomas Till. 1707.
The churchyard is particularly notable for its ancient yew trees reputedly1,700 years old and two early 19th centuary grave watchers huts.
A guide to the Church may be downloaded HERE