St Mildred Church
The origins of this church goes back to the Anglo-Saxon times and was dedicated to Saint Mildred, who was the daughter of King Merewald, of Mercia, and his wife Ermenburga, [sometimes known as Domneva, a Princess of Kent]. At an early age Mildred was sent to an abbey in Chelles, France to be educated but was not treated well and returned to England joining her mother who was Abbes of Minster-in-Thanet. During her life she was known for her tranquillity and generosity to the poor, on the death of her mother she became the Abbess. She died after a long illness on 30th July AD 732, and her tomb in Minster became a place of pilgrimage her image is often shown with a deer, or hind.
The church at Whippingham was founded by William Fitz Osborne in 1066, and remained in existence until 1804, when it was demolished to make way for a new church designed by John Nash (1752-1835). Around 1855 a new church was built by Albert Jenkins Humbert [who later built Sandringham the home of the royal family in Kent], though no proof exists it is believed the Prince Albert was involved in its design. In 1861/2 the church you see today was completed and Prince Albert was very much involved, and I believe that the style reflects his German upbringing.
Albert was born in Schloss Rosenan, Bavaria on the 26th August 1819 and married Queen Victoria [born 24th May 1819] on the 14th December 1840 at Windsor Castle, becoming the Prince Consort. When the church was completed in 1861, it became the royal church of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert along with all the family and servants when they were resident at Osborne. On the on 14th December 1861 Prince Albert died at Windsor Castle of typhoid, the infection is believed to have come from the castle drains. He was buried in a mausoleum at Frogmore and on her death in 1901; Queen Victoria was laid to rest with him.
In 1885, Princess Beatrice [1857-1944] the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria’s [she was also the Queen’s companion] and Prince Henry of Battenberg [1858-1896] were married in the church. Whilst serving on the Gold Coast in Africa with the army in 1896, Prince Henry contacted malaria and died aged 38, his body was brought back to the UK and he is buried in the marble sarcophagus in the Battenberg Chapel. There is also part of the decking from H.M.S.Blonde, which brought his body back from Ashanti. On her death in 1944 aged 87 years Princes Beatrice was initially buried at Windsor but later laid to rest with her husband at Whippingham. The chapel is linked to the royal family, the name Battenberg being changed to Mountbatten and in 1917 King George V changed the royal name from Hanover to Windsor.
The church is maintained in excellent state of repair with a very attractive interior with many historical artefacts within, and is well worth a visit. The font was given by Queen Victoria and the pulpit erected by the parishioners of Whippingham in memory of her. There is a Reredos at the alter end of the church that was presented by King Edward VI.
Situated on the balcony above the entrance door is the original pipe organ built around 1860 [technical information can be found in the National Pipe Organ Register] and this is still used on a regular basis.
Across the road from the church are the picturesque Victoria and Albert Almshouses, erected by Queen Victoria in 1880 for use by her loyal retired servants, however these are now private residences. ‘Colberg’ design by Prince Albert as a German hunting lodge is in the locality, but this to is now a private residence.