St Mary's Church Central Hayling
The Priory Church of St Mary’s is a historic church situated in central Hayling Island, it is a beautiful building with a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
St Mary’s has pedestrian access from Church Road and via public footpaths to the side and rear of the building. There are car park facilities including Disabled bays in the lay-by on Church Road adjacent to the Church and additional parking is available in St Mary’s Church Hall Car Park, directly opposite the Church.
We have toilet and kitchen facilities available In St Mary’s Church and in the Church Hall, separate from the main building. To access the Church Hall from the main Church safely, please use the traffic light pedestrian crossing opposite the Church, outside of Hayling College.
Visitors of all ages are warmly welcomed at St Mary’s, nursing mothers are welcome to breastfeed. The church is open each day in daylight hours, so do please enjoy your visit to this beautiful, historic building.
Please also see our downloadable Accessibility Leaflet.
The main Sunday morning services are in modern language, with a family Communion service on the first Sunday of each month. There is a said early morning Sunday Communion in traditional language, and Evensong on Sunday evenings. On the second Saturday of the month there is an informal early evening drop-in service for the young and young-at-heart. On Tuesday mornings there is Morning Prayer followed by a Book-of-Common-Prayer Communion. On Friday mornings we have Morning Prayer and a pram and toddlers service.
If you have a safeguarding concern, please contact the priest in charge, Jenny Gaffin (tel. 023 9307 0178)
or one of the safeguarding officers:
St Andrew’s – Vicky Evans
St Mary’s – Jill Kingston
St Peter’s – Jo Hawley
Young People and Families
Besides services, most weekdays there is something for toddlers, young children and their parents/carers.
Please see our Young People and Families page for details of regular clubs and events at St Mary’s or St Mary’s Church Hall
St Mary’s has a Church hall with a spacious main room with a stage, kitchen and toilet facilities . Off street car parking is available for a limited number of cars adjacent to the hall building. The Church Hall is situated across the road from the Main Church building on Church Road and is available to hire for events that finish by 9pm.
For hall hire enquiries please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 023 9307 0178.
St Mary’s has a war memorial, an extensive graveyard, and a Garden of Peace on donated land consecrated in 2003 for burials. Among the graves is that of Alexander McKee, who discovered the wreck of the Tudor warship the Mary Rose.
For further reading on those from Hayling Island who fought in two World Wars see Hayling War Fallen.
LST and Landing Craft Association banner In the church is displayed the banner of the LST and Landing Craft Association. This was an Association of veterans who steered landing craft to the Normandy beaches during World War 2. Much of their training was on Hayling Island. The Association held its final reunion in September 2011, with a moving service in St Mary’s, at the end of which the banner was handed over to the church for safe-keeping.
Prayer and Contemplation
The church is normally open for prayer and contemplation every weekday during daylight hours. We hold a Silent Prayer session for 20 minutes each Wednesday from 12pm. All are welcome to join.
Coffee or tea is available on Tuesdays from 10.45 am to 12 noon in St. Mary’s Church Hall (located opposite the main Church building). We also offer refreshments after our Main Sunday Service at 10.30 am. Do please join us.
There are also monthly coffee mornings in the homes of members of the congregation, please see the What’s On page for details.
If you would like to host a Coffee Morning for St Mary’s please contact the Parish Office .
There are normally Sunday lunches on the second Sunday of the month at 12.30 pm in the church hall. If you would like to come, you would be very welcome.
There is a 100 Club with monthly draws. For more information or to join please contact Janet Coates-Jones on 023 9246 7094.
The Friends of St Mary’s
When St Mary’s was built more than 750 years ago, it was the biggest roofed public building on Hayling Island and was very much a focus of Island life. It was a very flexible building with no fixed internal structures. During the Victorian period the Island population in general were regular church-goers and the inside of the church was changed to reflect this and make it more comfortable. Pews and other fixed fittings were introduced but, unfortunately, with them the flexibility of the church was gradually lost, together with its suitabilty for general community activities. The current refurbishment is designed to address this problem. Phase I is complete and we are now fund-raising for the interior in order to complete Phase II. Although we have made very good progress with the fundraising we are still short of the final target. If you would like to help, please join the Friends of St Mary’s or just make a stand alone donation to the Project please contact the Parish Office .
More History of St Mary’s
The earliest firm evidence of Christianity on Hayling Island dates back to Anglo-Saxon times, although it is quite possible that the religion was practised on the island in the last century or two of Roman rule. There was a Saxon church dedicated to All Saints, which probably now lies underwater following the loss of a sizeable chunk of the island to the sea in 1324.
Queen Emma, wife first of Ethelred the Unready and then of Canute, gave the manor of Hayling to the monks of St Swithun’s at Winchester Cathedral. After the Norman conquest, William the Conqueror granted most of Hayling to the Benedictine Abbey of Jumièges in Normandy, who received its agricultural income. There followed a long period of legal disputes between Jumièges Abbey and the Winchester Monks, who held on to a small part of northern Hayling. At various times over the next few centuries, during times of hostility with France, English monarchs took control of priories owned by French abbeys, including that of Hayling Island.
Building of the Priory Church of St Mary’s started in about 1250, when it became clear that the Church of All Saints was severely threatened by sea flooding. At this time the Island was still largely in the possession of Jumièges, although in 1294 Edward I took control of the priory, which remained in royal possession for some 30 years. Carved on a panel in the choir stalls are the Arms of Jumièges. One of the first priors is probably buried under a memorial stone in the chancel of St Mary’s. Henry V deprived all French abbeys of their rights in relation to English priories, and in 1414 he granted the priory of Hayling to the Carthusians of Sheen. From then on it seems likely that the prior of Hayling leased most of Hayling Island from the Carthusians.
In 1539, following the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry VIII granted the priory, along with the manor of Hayling, to Trinity College, Arundel. Subsequently the manor passed into the possession of the Dukes of Norfolk, who owned it until 1825.
The most famous person associated with the priory of St Mary’s is Thomas Hoccleve, a royal official and a major poet of the school of Chaucer. In 1394 Richard I granted Hoccleve the right to bed and board at the priory. This sort of grant was a standard way to increase the emoluments of royal officials, and Hoccleve probably exchanged the right for money, possibly a regular income paid by the priory.
In 2010 St Mary’s was refurbished. Victorian pews were removed and replaced with chairs, giving the church a much lighter and more flexible character. While masons were repairing the base of a pillar they added a carving of an elephant’s head
Inside the church are some fine thirteenth-century carvings on pillars, and two ancient fonts – one hollowed out from an Anglo-Saxon stone which was originally the base of a Saxon cross; and the other a square bowl of Purbeck marble dating back to about 1200, placed on a 13th-century base. The bell frame dates back to about 1250, but only one bell, cast or recast in 1634, survives.