St.Peter's Church At Winterbourne Stoke

A Brief Guide To The Church:

Winterbourne Stoke was part of an area given to one of the generals who took part successfully in the Crusades in the 11th and 12th centuries. These Crusades were military expeditions undertaken by the Christians of Europe to recover the Holy Lands from the Mohammedans. The church itself belonged in 1331 to the Priory of Hayling.

It appears in the Domesday Book which was a survey of the lands of England, their extent, value and ownership and liabilities made by the order of William the Conqueror in 1086. It says:- This church has 1 hide of land. The Abbot of Jumieges holds this church and land value 60 shillings.

Since those days and during the last 700 years or so, people have worshipped and come for peace of mind or when they are in distress to this Church. You will see the list of Vicars on the board and notice how names have changed as the years have gone by.

The Church is made of flint and rubble and has two Norman doorways. The north doorway being rich in moulding while the south doorway is more simply decorated and has been blocked up. On the wall of the nave is the iron bracket which used to hold the hourglass which safeguarded against sermons going on for too long. This was no bad thing and perhaps we should have it again! On the eastern wall there are brackets which in former days held the figures of saints. The tower is embattled and has gargoyles and some charming windows.

The font has a cover of good style Jacobean carvings with volutes and balusters. At its foot there are some medieaval tiles with foliage. Further up the church there is a rich but flat beautifully carved Jacobean pulpit. In the transept (the north sidehas been rebuilt) there are graves or monumental stones with inscriptions. Richard Greene, Gent, 8 Dec 1635 and William Reeves Nov 1693 and Here lyeth the body of Simon Croker Combere, Minister of this place who died 4 Nov 1656.

In the south east corner of the churchyard are four graves of eight poor people who were burned in their beds in March 1819.

It is interesting to note that the idea of the two acres of churchyard was to repay church repairs presumably by burial fees. The Parsonage House which can be seen to the north was described as a small house erected in 1586 by John Wigan (Vicar). Presumably much has been added to the house since then.

On the south side of the church is the estate of Druids Lodge and the river Till. This glorious setting gives the church a wonderful feeling of beauty, wild life and serenity.

Winterbourne Stoke itself has approx 200 inhabitants. Three miles to the west is Yarnbury Castle which is a huge earthwork with triple ditches some 50 feet deep. They are drilling for oil nearby! Yarnbury was thrown up in the Iron Age some 2,000 years ago. It is thought to have been a line of fortresses to protect the southern Plain. Much history has been made around this area with Yarnbury, the barrows, Stonehenge, and indeed our little Church of St. Peter’s. We welcome you today to our simple but lovely church whose dimensions are: nave 49’ long, 16’ 10” wide; chancel 28’ 6” long, 15’ 2” wide; transept 13’ 9”, 31’ 1” wide.

The fine wooden ladder, may interest you, leading up to the bells. We have four grand bells but can only ring one at present although we hope to repair the bracket in due course. The ladder was used to go down into the wells and get water from the partly dried up streams/wells in the drought of 1936.

We have two services each month (Evensong and Holy Communion). Our choir is about ten strong.