Friday, 2 November 2018

Wootton Wawen

Visiting Wootton Wawen was to celebrate the life of our DiL's father, a well respected local farmer - his farm and land dwells in Shakespeare's Warwickshire. 
The service was held in the church of St. Peter which sits atop of a small mound overlooking the village, but it reminds us that British architecture embraces hundreds of years of history in and around so many of its buildings. 
This building was founded as a Saxon monastery in 730 by Aethelric, sub-king of the Hwicce, a province of the great Kingdom of Mercia. A copy of the Charter granting him the land for 'ecclesiastical possession' survives and is signed by Aethelbald, King of Mercia.
793 - first Viking raids
871-899 Alfred the Great
980 - Vikings ravage here in Warwickshire
1000 AD - Wootton Wawen is named after Wagen,
the Saxon thane who was lord of this farming settlement before the Norman conquest. During Viking raids the monastery disappeared and the church was damaged, but Wagen repaired and rebuilt it.
1020 - Period of monastic revival begins under Cnut and Edward the Confessor
1066 - Battle of Hastings. 
After the Battle of Hastings, all Lord Wagen's lands were given by William the Conqueror to his friend Robert, the new Norman Earl of Stafford who policed Wootton with a small garrison and a Motte and Bailey castle. The manor remained in the Earl of Stafford's family for the next 500 years. 
However, what happened to Wagen is unknown but it is thought that he may have died at the Battle of Hastings.
Robert, the Norman Earl of Stafford, gave this church to the Abbey of Conches, in Normandy. By 1100 they established a Priory here to ensure that a tenth of all the estates produce was shipped off to France. 
1135/54 - The Anarchy 
Combining England and Normandy together under William the Conqueror finally resulted in a civil war between them causing a widespread breakdown of law and order.
In order to appease and boost the local economy, the French monks endeavoured to turn Wootton Wawen into a market town.
However, in 1140 Beaudesert which is just 2 miles away, was licensed to have a market outside its magnificent castle, and with the rapid development of nearby Henley, this meant that the grand plan for Wootton Wawen came to nothing. 
1189/92 - Third Crusade
1215 - Magna Carta
1265 - Henley and Beaudesert destroyed after the
Battle of Evesham
In 1443 Henry Vl confiscated the priory at Wootton and transferred the ownership of this church to his newly established King's College at Cambridge University. Under their ownership the church was extended to become the building as seen today.  
This brief potted history simply covers the first 700 year period associated with this church. Hopefully it conveys a small insight and a sense of the history that has encompassed not only this building but all of the ancient buildings across these Isles. 
    Within the church of St. Peter is this c17th typically Jacobean style monument which is more than 150 years later than the events already mentioned. It commemorates one Francis Smith (d.1605) lying in what appears to be an extremely uncomfortable posture, but he sleeps peacefully and has done so for the past 413 years - so let's take our leave, but quietly please. 

27 comments:

  1. I love learning more about England's rich history. I wonder if I would ever travel to anywhere else if I lived there. You could easily spend a life time visiting all the interesting places in the UK. Thank you for another great post. I know very well how much time it takes to create them.

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    1. Dear Catherine - our own history is linked in with so many of our continental neighbours that this makes me wish to visit and see things from their view too. I have had an interest in history from a young age and although I have visited places all across this country, as you suggest you could easily spend a life time visiting them. Thank you Catherine I am pleased that you enjoyed this post.

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  2. What Catherine said is so true, the UK is incredibly rich in history and gorgeous buildings. I so enjoy your posts and learning more about your fascinating part of the world. I must revisit England someday soon!

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    1. That is such a very kind comment - thank you. The fact that you enjoyed the post makes me happy - do come back and visit us again.

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  3. History beckons at every corner in the UK, it seems, and I am willing to follow. Having such a long recorded history must do something to the psyche of the people living there, I imagine. Perhaps all of us should step back and take a long, long look at how today's actions will be viewed in 100 or 1000 years. This church is magnificent. I would love to walk that curving path to the door in the second photo.

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    1. That is very astute of you Lorrie, and you are spot on as far as I and others that I know are concerned. Most of the people at the memorial service were very local with generations that could be linked back to these earlier events, creating greater stability, I believe, in rural communities.

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  4. The church is a beauty. You can feel the history in its walls.

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    1. I always enjoy and admire seeing the different periods of architecture and history in one building.

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  5. Hello Rosemary, The wonderful thing about Britain is its deep layers of history, attested by such vestiges as Roman walls and this Saxon stonework you photographed. I would love one day to do an "early Britain" tour. When I research Ohio and find something dating from the 19th century, this seems like the primeval beginning of time, yet is nothing from an English perspective.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - I do hope you do have a chance to fulfil your desire to do an 'early Britain' tour. It is something that you could readily do yourself if you hired a car and most importantly joined the National Trust and English Heritage too. You could then begin your tour with the Stone Age at Avebury or Stone Henge.................

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  6. Dearest Rosemary,
    History literally being written in stone, for the ages to be studied, admired and photographed by present day citizens.
    All those battles, the one after the other for conquering areas, have left their marks.
    Often tragic and sad and yet time after time humans have managed to rebuild and move on.
    Thanks for sharing this and condolences to your DiL and family.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - importantly your comment - humans have managed to rebuild and move on.
      Thank you for your kind condolences

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  7. Dear Rosemary,
    I am thinking about your DiL's father, "a well respected farmer" conjures up so many memories of living in a tiny farm community when I was growing up. I remember the long hours and back breaking work a farmer had to endure if he wanted to be successful and take care of his family and his land.
    I would love to hear more about him.

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    1. Dear Gina - my husband also has very similar memories to yours when growing up as his father too was a farmer. He remembers his father working out in the fields all day long in the freezing cold and the wet weather. Knowing personally just how tough the life is, he never had any great desires to be a farmer himself.

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  8. You've just summed up very succinctly why I always love exploring our churches. My father was a farmer too but by the time I was in my mid-thirties I realised that there were better ways to spend my life and got out of it.

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    1. Thank you John - I particularly appreciate your kind comment as I along with many others enjoy the posts that you do on our ancient churches and buildings.

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  9. Wonderful place.
    Have a lovely weekend
    Warm regards
    Maria
    Divagar Sobre Tudo um Pouco

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  10. A beautiful and very solid looking church and an interesting history !

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  11. Like the reclining statue. Fascinating history.

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    1. He might have found a soft pillow more comfortable than resting his head on a metal helmet.

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  12. I love, love, love your churches and churchyards, Rosemary!
    And I swoon over names like Aethelric and Aethelbald!
    And though it is a kind of digression: I was one of the few students in Mayence/Mainz who really "devoured" Beowulf.

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    1. Ah Britta you are such a great lover of the epic and the ancient - how many people I wonder have devoured the heroic poem Beowulf?

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  13. We have such wonderful history all around us. At last I have caught up with your posts, I didn't realise I had been absent for so long!

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    1. Lovely to hear from you Polly - thanks for your comment and hope all is well with you.

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