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All Saints’ Church in Thorney Hill – a New Forest church steeped in history

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JUDE James, the previous writer of this Reflections column, has been a great mentor to me with my local history studies. His advice is invaluable, writes Nick Saunders. He encourages me to research the local churches as there is a remarkable amount of history to be discovered and studied in the religious buildings of the New Forest. Often, they are the oldest building in a Forest village or town, and their architecture and contents are a valuable resource for historians.

One church that is fairly modern in comparison to others is All Saints’ Church at Thorney Hill, near Bransgore. This is a spectacular architectural gem and well worth a visit. The history linked to the church is fascinating.

All Saints' Church in Thorney Hill
All Saints' Church in Thorney Hill

The church was built in 1906 by Lord John and Lady Constance Manners of Avon Tyrrell. Lord Manners had won a considerable fortune in 1881. He was a serving officer in the Grenadier Guards when he accepted a wager to purchase, train and ride a winning horse in the Grand National of that year. Riding the horse ‘Seaman’ to victory that year won John Manners £28,000, which is the equivalent of £3.6 million today. John and Constance were married in 1885. They used some of the money to build Avon Tyrrell House on land inherited by Constance in the New Forest. The house was completed in 1892. Lord and Lady Manners had five children. Their eldest daughter Mary Christine was known as Molly. She was followed by twins, Betty and Angela. Lord and Lady Manners’ son John Neville Manners was born in 1892, with Francis their youngest boy born in 1897.

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