A short history of St. Michael and All Angels Church
The present building, the third on the site, which is a pre-historic man-made mound, was built between 1858-69 during the Victorian period of Lyndhurst’s immense popularity. Designed by William White, it is Gothic in its ethos but uses modern materials reflecting both the theology and ecclesiology of much Victorian thought.
The vision was to express something of the ancient and eternal from the Kingdom of God in the contemporary materials of the day – ancient and modern.
The church is richly decorated throughout in the Victorian manner with windows by Kempe, Clayton and Bell and the Pre-Raphaelites, Burne-Jones, Rossetti, William Morris and others.
In 1860 Frederick Leighton (later to become Lord Leighton and president of the Royal Academy of Art) offered to paint a large fresco in the new spirit medium of the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins for the cost of the materials only.
In the face of the bishop’s disapproval, the vestry went ahead with what was to become one of Leighton’s principal and most successful monumental works.
The church is also the last resting place of Alice Hargreaves (who inspired the Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll) . She lived for most of her adult life in Lyndhurst.For us she is not the “Alice” of the Adventures in Wonderland but the mother of her sons who were killed within week as of each other during the first World War. Their memorial is near the Baptistry in the Church. For the latter years of her life she lived in Lyndhurst as part of our community.
The church remains the crowning building of much that remains in the Victorian architecture of the High Street of Lyndhurst and provides an inspiring atmosphere for worship, which remains its principal use.