The first church at Woolbeding was probably built of timber and thatch some time after the conversion of the South Saxons by St. Wilfrid in the 7th century. The church and manor house would have been constructed of stone possibly in the 10th century. The church, manor and estate are mentioned in the Domesday survey of 1086.Picture1

The nave of the present church is Saxon with pilasters on the external walls. The remains of a Saxon doorway is visible on the outside of the south wall of the nave. On the external north wall of the nave original quoins, with good examples of long and short work, are visible at both corners. Other Saxon features which remain are four tie beams and primitive carved supports in the roof of the nave. The font, which is hewn out of a block of marble, is 11th century although its exterior has been re-tooled. There is also a Romanesque capitol in the church which is well worn and has what appears to be shields on its sides.

The three small windows in the upper quadrant of the 1728 tower contain the stonework of the old Saxon windows which were taken from the nave when they were replaced with larger windows at that time. Detailed plans of the church before the Victorian alterations, which show the last Saxon window in the nave, reveal that those in the tower are of the same dimensions.

On the floor of the tower is a taper sided gravestone with double ended cross of Saxon origin. Its sarcophagus base was found in the north west corner of the churchyard in 2011 and is still visible. Another Saxon grave slab in the chancel is of similar style. On the floor of the porch are fragments of the casements of brasses- one of the 15th century.

The tower was built by Sir Richard Mill in 1728 and larger windows inserted in the nave. He built a gallery at the west end of the church. Behind the altar he placed a reredos having the Creed, the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer painted on wooden panels.

In 1876 the Saxon chancel and the gallery were demolished during a Victorian restoration. A larger chancel was constructed with a barrel vaulted roof as was the nave. A new porch, which changed the entrance from the west end to the south west corner, was constructed.


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