108-118 Lower Road
108 Lower Road
Previously known as The Rectory, and now known as The Old Rectory, the present building dates from the 17th century, although there was an earlier structure. There were several additions to the current building, some of which have now been demolished. These included the 19th century west wing, behind which stood a tithe barn, a large black building with a thatched roof. During the latter half of the 19th century there was a Blanket Fund in operation in the village. A stock of blankets was held in the tithe barn. When winter arrived, any parishioner could apply for a blanket for each bed. At the end of winter all the blankets had to be returned. They were washed by the Parish ladies with water from huge boilers lit in the Rector’s Yard. They were then dried and mothballed until the next winter. Canon Alderson always had a magnificent American car, which he kept in the tithe barn, and would usually drive in the middle of the road. The barn and Georgian wing were demolished in 1978, to make way for the new rectory at 118 Lower Road.
George Herbert was one of our greatest religious poets. Well born and academically gifted, he appeared to be marked out for high public office, but eventually he turned to the priesthood in 1630 at the age of 37, when he was appointed to be Rector of the parish of Fugglestone-cum-Bemerton. He became known as an exemplary pastor, writing a guide ‘The Country Parson’ which remains influential to this day. He was also able to refine and develop his poetic skills here and put the finishing touches to ‘The Temple’, his famous collection of devotional poems. He died of consumption (TB) in 1633 and is believed to be buried under the floor of the chancel of St Andrew’s Church opposite. Further details of the building and how it was modified can be found on the George Herbert website.
118 Lower Road
The current modern property was built in the 1970s, when it was known as the New Rectory. It was used to accommodate a member of the clergy but was subsequently rented to Alabare Christian Care Centres to house people in need; the building was then known as Port House. After a five-year period, the house was returned to the Church, renovated and eventually renamed Herbert House in recognition of the 16th century poet and Rector, George Herbert.