St Peter's Church North Hayling
About St. Peter’s Church
St Peter’s is a historic church in a picturesque setting in the village of Northney in the north-east of Hayling Island. Thanks to volunteers, it is normally open in the daytime for prayer and peaceful contemplation.
St Peter’s Church is situated in the picturesque village of Northney and whilst the church is accessable to pedestrians from St Peter’s Road please note there is no pavement directly outside the church. Please ensure caution and that you keep your party safe when walking to the Church along St Peter’s Road.
The Church offers car parking facilities including marked Disabled bays, there is also an overflow car park further to the rear of the Churchyard.
We have a modern Church Hall called the Ark attached to the Church building, the Ark contains toilets and kitchen facilities.
Visitors of all ages are welcome at St Peter’s , nursing mothers are welcome to breastfeed.
Thanks to help from volunteers St Peter’s is open during the day in daylight hours, we hope you enjoy your visit to this beautiful, historic Church.
Please also see our downloadable Accessibility Leaflet.
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 – Debbie Newbound
St Mary’s – Debbie Newbound
St Peter’s – Jo Hawley
Young People and Families
For contact details please see our Young People and Families Page.
Church Hall – The Ark
At the rear of the church is a modern extension, the Ark, which serves as a church hall.
The Ark contains a spacious meeting room, toilets and a kitchen. To hire the Ark please contact the Parish Office.
Among those buried in St Peter’s Graveyard is Princess Yurievskaya (1878 – 1959), a natural daughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia who was legitimised by her parents’ marriage and who spent the last 27 years of her life on Hayling Island, dying in relative poverty. The gravestone gives her birth year as 1880, which was the year she was legitimised.
A Panikhida, or tradition Orthodox memorial service, was held for her at St Peter’s on Sunday 2 October 2016.
Click HERE to go to a You Tube Video about her and the recent restoration of her grave.
For further reading on those from Hayling Island who fought in two World Wars see Hayling War Fallen.
For information about graves, please click HERE to see Graveyard regulations applying to burials, graves, and cremated remains.
The font, like the church, dates back to the 12th century. By the altar is an oak chest which is also probably 12th-century.
There are two carvings of heraldic beasts on the chevron in the nave, of a yale and a griffin: these are thought to be 17th-century.
There are some interesting features on the exterior of the church. On the south wall and south-east buttresses are sundials, used in former times as “mass clocks” to determine the timing of services – one of these is on a blocked-up priest’s door to the chancel.
On the south-east buttress there is also a carving in the form of a pentagram, often associated with witchcraft, but also in medieval times a symbol of the five wounds Jesus suffered on the Cross.
There is a church trail at St Peter’s. Copies of the trail are in the north entrance to church and there is an answer sheet available if you are stuck!
The organ is a small Father Willis organ, which was offered to the church in 1998 and dedicated in September 1999 during an inaugural concert given by Martin Neary, former organist of Westminster Abbey. The organ was originally built for the Wedgwood family for the church of Barlaston, Staffordshire.
St Peter’s has been given two banners. One was painted and donated by Father Frank, an artist who specialises in church banners. The other is a stitched copy of an icon of the Trinity by the major Russian painter of icons, Andrei Rublev.
Social and Fund-raising Events
St Peter’s has an active programme of social and fund-raising events. Click HERE to see our latest social events.
As part of the Portsmouth Diocese link with Ghana, St Peter’s is linked with St John the Divine, Nuaso in the eastern region of Ghana. For more information about the diocesan link with Ghana click HERE.
More History of St Peter’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.
Although St Peter’s is over a century older than the Anglican church of St Mary’s of the south central area of the Island, it was originally built in about 1140 by the monks of Jumièges Abbey not as a parish church but as a chapel of ease, Northwode Chapel, to serve the people of North Hayling for whom going to their parish church of All Saints in the south of the island was not convenient.
The original building probably occupied most of what is now the nave, and was apparently built without foundations: the central pillars rested on large sarsen stones (boulders probably deposited by glaciers during the Ice Ages). Buttresses were added later to help support the walls. In the early 13th century the building was expanded to its present dimensions, with the porch being added later. It may have been at this time that the decorative carvings were placed at the top of the rounded pillars of the nave: it is thought that these carvings were prefabricated at Jumièges and then shipped across the Channel.
The graveyard is now one of the beautiful features of the church, but until 1485 the residents of North Hayling had to be buried at St Mary’s. In that year, following representations about the difficulties caused by flooding and bad weather, the prior of Sheen agreed that burials could commence at St Peter’s.
In 2000 the Ark – which serves as a church hall – was added against the west wall. It won the Borough of Havant Design Award in 2000 and the Royal Institute of British Architects South Conservation Award in 2002. The RIBA judges said, “The extension lifts the spirit and adds value to the building, fitting within the constraints of a mature churchyard and a very ancient yew tree.”