The parish church on Peartree Green
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|EU Parliament||South East England|
Peartree Green is an open space on high ground on the east bank of the River Itchen in Southampton. A 16/17th century building, Peartree House, still stands, though is today concealed by private housing. The house and the green take their name from a pear tree that grew near the parish church. Some of the original open space has been built on, but a large proportion remains as a recreational area. It contains a church and the remains of a boarding school. It overlooks the River Itchen to St Mary's Church in Southampton.
Francis Mylles, M.P. for Winchester from 1588 to 1593, built Peartree House in the late 16th century, using stone from Bitterne Manor which had previously been used by the Romans at their settlement at Clausentum. Captain Richard Smith, former governor of Calshot Castle lived at Peartree House from approximately 1617.
A small church, now named Peartree Parish Church, was built as Jesus Chapel by Captain Richard Smith in 1618. It was dedicated in 1620. Although it was not part of Southampton at that time, Jesus Chapel served the parish of St Marys Extra which was used as an overflow for the parish of St Marys in Southampton. Construction of Jesus Chapel saved parishioners from a rough crossing over the Itchen to Southampton or a long journey to the neighbouring churches at Hound, Botley or South Stoneham. The church website makes a claim to being the world's oldest Anglican church, stating that it was the first one to be built and consecrated after the English Reformation. The church was neither the first to be built nor to be consecrated after the Reformation: between 1560 and 1830 most of the existing churches in England were converted and reconsecrated to Anglican worship, and several churches were built quite soon after the reformation, such as St George's Church, Esher, built in 1540, and Old St Leonard's Church, Langho, which was built in 1557; however, when consecrated in September 1620, the service, conducted by the Bishop of Winchester, formed the basis for future Church of England consecrations, so the church can lay claim to be the first to use the revised Church of England consecration service.
By the late 19th Century, the area contained many impressive houses and villas which were home to Southampton's wealthy traders.
Itchen Ferry village no longer exists, but it used to adjoin Peartree Green. The graveyard at Jesus Chapel contains a memorial to Richard Parker of the village, who died at sea following the wreck of the yacht Mignonette off South Africa in 1884. Cast adrift without provisions, his companions killed and ate him in order to survive. It is one of the few recorded cases of human cannibalism in modern times. The subsequent murder trial R v Dudley and Stephens changed English law by establishing the precedent that necessity is no defence to the charge of murder.
Peartree Green was incorporated into the borough of Southampton in 1920. The area has subsequently experienced significant suburban development. The boarding school became an annex to Woolston School; it has since been converted into residential homes.
- Southampton past and present. Fletcher & Son. 1840. p. 72.
- The Illustrated History of Southampton Suburbs. Jim Brown. 2004. ISBN 1-85983-405-1
- Images of Southampton. Southampton City Council.1994. ISBN 1-873626-59-2
- "Pear Tree Church - Southampton". Pear Tree Church.
- "St George's Church, Esher". stgeorgesesher.org.
- "Church Building after the Reformation". victoriacountyhistory.
- David Ross. "Old Langho Church". britainexpress.
- William Page (1908). "Parishes: St Mary Extra". A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3. pp. 297–299.
- Historic England. "Peartree House (1092032)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
- Memorial Stone on the old school building
- Maritime Memorials
- Cannibalism and the common law. A.W. Brian Simpson. 1984
- Southampton in the Twenties. Eric Wyeth Gadd
- "Peartree Green gets special nature reserve status". Southern Daily Echo. 1 April 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
- Yandell, Chris (17 July 2018). "Two hectares of Peartree Green in Southampton badly damaged in blaze". Daily Echo. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
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