Stuart Martin of East Meon History Group acted as an excellent guide on our first visit of 2021. On a dry but overcast day, our visit started at All Saints Church where we were reminded of the long history of the village dating back to Saxon times and beyond. It was a well established community long before the founding of Petersfield which is just five miles away.
The church, which is said to resemble Winchester Cathedral in style, is dated between 1075 and 1150 and contains a black marble baptismal font created in Tournai, in what is now Belgium and is circa 1130-1140. The Tournai font is one of seven in the UK, four of which are in Hampshire including Winchester Cathedral. Another is in Lincoln Cathedral.
Opposite the church is the old Court House with a mediaeval hall dating from the 15th century and belonging to successive bishops of Winchester.
Our perambulation continued through the village looking at various buildings of interest and learning how the River Meon had been re-routed over the centuries to suit the village plan. Our tour ended at The Forge, a rather non descriptor building in relation to others we had seen but one that has united the village in recent years following a successful campaign to prevent the change of use and partial re-development. Perhaps most interestingly, the campaign and the location of the building next to the cricket pitch led to a change in planning laws which now require planning authorities to take into consideration surrounding sports facilities.
Lunch followed under a gazebo in the garden of Isaak Walton pub. It was great to be eating and drinking with like-minded friends again.