Preston Candover lies on the B3046 on the southern edge of the catchment area for The Basingstoke Gazette. It is not often mentioned as part of Basingstoke history, but I would like to highlight a particularly interesting small church in the heart of the village.

The Old Church of St Mary the Virgin, although at first glance seems to be a simple building, holds a number of surprises.

Its impressive flagstone floor dates back hundreds of years. Flagstones, tiles and ledger stones were moved when the original building was demolished in 1885, and used in the construction of the floor, including 32 medieval tiles.

The majority of the floor memorials date from the 18th Century and a brass memorial to Katherine Dabrigecort to 1607.

Basingstoke Gazette:

An interesting feature is the memorial to Elizabeth Soper, who is shown as having died in 1733/4 highlighting the difference in dates between the Julian calendar, (which Julian Caesar made official in 46BC), and the Gregorian calendar.

Dates prior to 1752 were usually calculated to the Julian calendar which differed from the Gregorian.

This caused a shift of a day every 128 years, resulting in a huge disparity over a span of centuries. Because of this dates were often recorded with both calendars.

In 1851, the population of the village was recorded as being 524 and the old church as having 250 seats.

A fire in 1683 severely damaged the building and three restorations followed until 1872 when it was decided to abandon the old church and build a new one on higher ground. This was completed in 1884.

Following part demolition in 1885, the old church was then used as a mortuary chapel with the west wall and doorway being added in place of the chancel arch, incorporating a fragment of a 13th Century stone coffin lid and other interesting carved stones rescued from the original church.

On the south side, is a blocked priest’s doorway and to left, a mass dial used in medieval times to announce the times of services.

In 1984, the chapel was eventually designated as redundant and taken into the protection of the Redundant Churches Fund, which is now the Churches Conservation Trust.

There are many points of interest at this fascinating building. A visit is highly recommended.