I’m often saddened that our Saxon churches haven’t survived through the centuries, but it’s not so surprising considering that many were either built from wood, or that after 1066 the Norman invaders thought them too simple and rebuilt them. However, the closest we have seen to something resembling such a Saxon church is only around 1 mile outside our village.
Inglesham Church, in the hamlet of the same name, is a short distance away from the banks of the River Thames and dedicated to St John The Baptist. It was rebuilt in 1205 and still contains many Saxon features including rare wall paintings. The interior is very austere, so typical of the period, but for me this is part of its charm. However the wooden box-style pews were very difficult to sit in as Dr C and I attended the Christmas Carol Service on the Saturday before Christmas recently. The church was full to bursting with extra chairs having been supplied for the service, many folks from surrounding villages having braved the lashing rain and driven in to the narrow lane and tiny hamlet. We met neighbours from our own village and Craig the builder who had recently repaved part of our garden whose wife was the organiser for example. Though not Christians ourselves it is easy to see how people are becoming disengaged within their communities through the dwindling attendance of local churches.
Inglesham Church is now a redundant church, yet a Grade 1 Listed Building in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust and the church was a favourite of John Betjeman the English Poet. Sadly, they are now facing a massive bill for repair, not because it is falling down, but because the lead was stolen from the roof recently and can only be repaired using original materials which is very very costly.