John Keble, leading figure in the ‘Oxford Movement’ and the Anglo Catholic revival in the 1860’s, supervised the building of St Mark as a chapel of ease for Ampfield and an example of what a ‘sacramentally meaningful’ church might look like in Victorian England.
St Mark: The church Keble built
St Mark was founded as a chapel for Ampfield in the enormous parish of Hursley in 1838. John Keble was Vicar of Hursley at that time. This new church was a laboratory for Keble, and the Oxford Movement’s ideas about ritual and liturgy in worship and what sacred architecture should look like. The Friends of St Mark help keep this valuable historical building viable and thriving.
For theological reasons Keble and his co-leaders of the Oxford Movement rebelled against their view of a Church of England afflicted by barren buildings and slackness of worship. St Mark and the other ‘new’ churches in Hursley Parish were to be workshops for this liturgical and architectural insurgency.
Every element of St Mark’s design: from the repeated groups of three steps, signifying the Trinity, to the conscious, if free copying, of medieval windows remains as a memorial to Keble’s intent. Equally, internally the design was equipped for a rich and sacramental worship.