FROM Linkenholt to South Hayling and Hinton Admiral to Yateley, Anthony New has sketched them all.

Over 76 years Mr New, a retired architect, has spent thousands of hours looking closely at and drawing Hampshire’s ancient parish churches, more than 150 in all.

From the famous Hospital of St Cross, the oldest charity in the country, to the humblest little church far off the main routes such as St Andrew at Chilcomb.

It is a unique artistic and architectural record of the county’s medieval churches.

As a teenager he was at St Bartholomew’s in Hyde, Winchester, in August 1943 soon after the Luftwaffe dropped a stick of bombs on the area killing seven civilians. As recently as last June Mr New captured St Bartholomew’s in Botley.

The book includes several churches that have since been demolished including St Martin’s in Winnall, knocked down in the 1970s for the widening of Easton Lane, St Maurice’s on Winchester High Street (the expansion of Sheriff and Ward store, now Debenhams) and St Matthew’s at Otterbourne, the remains of the chancel of a medieval church swept away in 1970 the year after Mr New’s visit.

Several have been converted to secular use, such as St Peter Chesil, now a theatre, whilst others, redundant for regular religious use, are now looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust, formerly known as the Friends of Friendless Churches.

Every sketch has details of the church which includes fascinating nuggets. Who knew that St Boniface set off to evangelise the heathens of Germany from the monastery close to the church that bears his name at Nursling?

The book also manages to evoke another age. At the end of the Second World War Mr New was in the Royal Navy based at HMS Mercury (then called Leydene) at East Meon. On a fine summer evening he would cycle around the area including St Nicholas in Bishop’s Sutton in July 1946. He notes: “Often I would clock up 25 miles or so before daylight faded. Consequently those pencil sketches were done far too hastily!”

The Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Nigel Atkinson, has contributed a foreword: “This fine book will I hope encourage Hampshire residents to visit older churches across the county and explore their architecture and contents.”

And as the book says: “In spite of all the changes the great majority of the dozens of buildings depicted remain essentially as they have been for centuries.”

Some may scoff, but most will probably remain the same for centuries to come.

Published by Phillimore Book Publishing. It is available from the author, 45a Woodbury Avenue, Petersfield, GU32 2ED, or 01730 262363. Price £18.