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  • 14

Not JUST a Saxon church, but an ancient treasure.

This is the Parish church at Wootton Wawen, Warwickshire, England. It is Warwickshire’s oldest church boasting a ‘Saxon Sanctuary’ Exhibition showing the development of the community over the centuries. An entire Millennium of English church architecture can be seen in this building which is an organised jumble of the interesting and quirky. A ‘must see’, top-ten church.

Stratford Upon Avon May 2013 032

Dating back to the first decades of the eighth century as is proved by the charter of Aethelbald (Saxon king) which mentions the minster which then existed in the area and founded by Aethelric. Its tower dates back to the 900s, if not earlier. It was first established as a missionary church for spreading the Christian faith to the surrounding areas and was inhabited by Benedictine monks at that time. This church was built on the “Wudu Tun” (Wootton) estate near the river Alne which still meanders through the tranquil countryside.

The preservation of historical buildings is paramount in the UK.

The preservation of historical buildings is paramount in the UK.

Today, the remains of this stone church forms the heart of the parish church of St. Peter’s, including the lower two- thirds of the tower and the four arches enclosing the Saxon Sanctuary. As it stands today, St. Peter’s represents almost every stage of English architecture, and its medieval congregation was the first in a long line to raise funds to safeguard the building.

In the barn-roofed Lady Chapel an acclaimed exhibition explores Wootton’s mysterious past, including how it got its very odd name. Wagen (‘Wawen’) was the Saxon lord of the manor a thousand years ago.

 

The  barn roofed Lady Chapel.

The barn roofed Lady Chapel.

Stratford Upon Avon May 2013 085 Visible inscriptions made by past pilgrims to St Peters. Some of these inscriptions are known to have been made by Crusaders.

As we walked in the church spoke loudly of a Catholic past, and as we moved from one part of the church to the next, I felt a deep sadness about all the Catholic churches that were either destroyed or repatriated during the Reformation. I certainly felt a connection with those Catholics who had been there before me.

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6 Comments

  1. Beautiful church and amazing history – thank you for sharing. Do you know if this church has been continually in use since its founding? Or is the parish new and reclaiming it?

    Reply
  2. Thanks for sharing this. It’s a really wonderful church, wish I could see more. Do you know if there is a book with the history of this church, and its art and “pilgrim graffiti”?

    Reply
    • There wasn’t anything on display or advertised there, an there’s not much online either. When researching churches to visit in Stratford it came up, but not much. I hadn’t even considered pilgrim graffiti before. From now on I’ll be more aware of.

      Reply
  3. In one church I visited in Russia, there was “graffiti” dating from medieval days as well, unfortunately in archaic Russian and nobody willing to take time to translate, although the guide indicated it was a lot of names (like, Sergei was here). Not much different from today.

    Also piquing curiosity, but still a mystery as to what it actually said, was graffiti from the Bolshevik days in another, ruined church–which the both the guide and our tour leader adamantly declined to comment on and changed the subject.

    Reply

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