St Botolph

This 1000 year old Pilgrims church situated adjacent to the Ridgeway Path in a valley surrounded by fields of sheep and in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a haven of peace and continuity.

About this church

The present church at Swyncombe was built probably by Saxon workers under the command of the Normans. It is situated on the Ridgeway once a major road from Avebury in Wiltshire to the flint mines of Norfolk.

Just prior to the Norman invasion the lands around Wallingford, including Swyncombe were in the hands of Wigod a staller to Edward the Confessor. Once Harold had been defeated at the battle of Hastings Wigod allied himself with William as William sought to take control of the rest of England.

The stained glass window on the east side of Swyncombe church shows Abbot Herluini, indicating that in the early years of the stone church there were strong ties to Bec Abbey. Bec Abbey was a Benedictine Abbey. The Benedictine rule gained popularity in England in the 10th century. Its introduction was controversial because it required its members to be celibate and cut off from the outside world. They were to be independent, self supporting communities.

Bec Abbey built a manor house at Swyncombe in the 13th century and the site has been occupied continuously since. The church would have served many of the people around the Swyncombe area.

The living, a rectory, was one of the poorest in the deanery, and few of its medieval incumbents were particularly distinguished. In the 14th century the advowson was confiscated by the Crown, and from the 16th century most rectors were presented by the Lord Chancellor on the Crowns behalf. The Reformation caused considerable disruption and Roman Catholic recusancy was encouraged during the 17th century by a resident lord of the manor, who maintained a private chapel. .

That pattern was reversed in the 19th and 20th centuries, when the church was restored and the rectory house rebuilt by several long serving incumbents.

Every February, visitors enjoy the churchyard carpeted by snowdrops and aonites as well as the famous home made cakes and Snowdrop Teas.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Fascinating churchyard

Visitors information

  • Level access to the main areas
  • On street parking at church
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets nearby
  • Café within 500m
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Space to secure your bike
  • Church shop or souvenirs

Other nearby churches

St Bartholomew

The earliest parts of St Bartholomew are 13th century, including a stair turret and a number of lancet windows, notably in the chancel.

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