The Medieval Church

Many references can be found in books and web pages about the history of the church, probably based on the findings of I.C. Hannah and W.H. Godfrey which were published in 1929 and 1940 respectively.  These accounts differ in various respects due to some archaeological evidence having been obscured by successive structural changes to the building over the centuries.  However, excavations and a close inspection of the flint work of the south wall carried out in 1980 by a local historian and archaeologist revealed further evidence enabling a more complete account to be compiled.

These extensive excavations in the churchyard revealed footings beneath the south and west walls of the old part of the present church but these continue westwards for some considerable distance.  The footings were identified as Saxon on account of their width and construction as they contain fragments of Roman tiles from the ruins of the Roman villa that was less than half a mile to the NW of the church.  Similar findings at other sites in England indicate that the Saxons made use of such debris where it was available rather than quarrying for new material.

 

Saxon churches were frequently built of a length approximately three times their width and had three small windows equally spaced along the length of the building.  The locations of two such windows have now been identified at high level in the flint work of the south wall of the old part of the present church and the third would have been towards the western end.  Evidence of an entrance was found in the form of a stone threshold in the foundations at the west end, which had jambs on either side indicating a narrow doorway.  A similar set of windows may have existed in the north wall but this could not be verified as the entire north wall had collapsed by the 19th Century.

The Normans partially rebuilt the church in the 12th Century and reduced it in length by building a new west wall containing two narrow slit windows fitted with external shutters.  If the west end of the earlier church was intact at that time, it was probably demolished but the thickness of the other three walls was increased to 3 feet by the addition of knapped flint facings above ground level on the outside which thus overhung the Saxon foundations.

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