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About Us

"Our vision is to be a welcoming community that worships God, serves others and makes new disciples"

 

 

The present story

 

“Friendliness, inclusion and a warm welcome to all”

(Church member)

 

Objectives

  • We are a welcoming community that worships God, serves other and makes new disciples.
  • We want to be an inclusive church which is at the heart of the community where everyone feels welcome and which they would like to be part of.
  • We want to be a progressive church, providing a range of worship opportunities for everyone which complements out sacramental tradition.

Developing opportunities for Children & Young People

We want to be a church for everyone, engaging them to participate in services and wider activities. Their experience of church should be of a safe, welcoming and caring environment which inspires them to go into the world following Christ’s example.

We want to be a church for everyone, with children and young people participating in services and getting involved in running the church.

 

“My children love coming to church”

(Church member)
 

Growing In Faith

We want to be a lively, spirit-filled church, providing a diverse range of services and courses for all interests. We will build on our historic experience of what works to shape and amplify our range of worship offering. We will seek to maintain our existing congregations whilst also growing a broader diverse following.

We will work to create something new and better, developing dynamic new approaches in our pathways of discipleship, and through our own growth as Christians we look to develop new congregations.

 

“A traditional church that makes changes”

(Church member)

 

Integration of the church with our communities

We seek opportunities to build relationships and support our community. We will maintain and improve our buildings and facilities to enhance their value for the benefit of all.

We want to be a church which in its facilities and its people is an asset to the community. We seek opportunities to engage with the community and support those in need.

 

“The local community is strong, valuing and including every person, but the church provides a feeling of truly belonging to something bigger.”

(Local councillor)

 

If you would like to make the story of the Church in Easthampstead part of your own, then please do get in touch with us.

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The story of our past

 

The Church in Easthampstead has a very long history. Below are some of the listed highlights of the history.

 

12th Century

The earliest reference to the Church in Easthampstead is in 1159AD when Lawrence Abbot of Westminster granted 'the church of Jezhamstede' to Hurley Priory, 'so that they may observe and venerate the Festival of the Blessed Saint Edward the Confessor, who died January 5th, 1066'. This earliest mention of a church is supported by an order from Ralph de Arundel, prior of Hurley, in 1176AD, that "Easthampstead Church shall pay a yearly pension of 4s. to Saint Mary, Hurley, for the provision of wax tapers for the 'mass of Our Lady." The payment continued until the Reformation. The church, then dedicated to St. Mary, not St. Mary Magdalene, was a stone structure, with a square tower. 

 

16th Century

In 1540 the Abbey of Hurley had to surrender to the King and the property of the old priory passed into lay hands. Henry VIII gave the manor and the patronage of the church, to Charles Howard in 1544.

 

17th Century

Sir William Trumbull bought the manor of Easthampstead in 1696 and sold the patronage to Thomas Power. Five years later Power sold it to Christ Church, Oxford, who purchased it out of the 'Fell bequest' to provide livings for needy clerks. They are still patrons to this day.

The first belfry was made of wood and was rebuilt in 1664 using bricks. A small nine-inch stone set in the outside wall of the tower commemorates this achievement, with the name Henry Boyer, 1664. He does not seem to have been one of the churchwardens so may have been the benefactor or the parish Overseer for the year of the construction. The Church is recorded as having a ring of 4 bells in 1699.

 

19th Century

At sometime in its history the Church became known as St. Mary Magdalene. The reason for this is unknown. In 1866 the tower was raised to double the height of the 17th century structure. Made of brick, it was decorated and strengthened with ashlar and heavy Victorian stone tracery and surmounted by three narrow little pinnacles and one much larger, to protect the end of the spiral staircase. The bell-loft is large with triple louvred lights on each side, ornately decorated with zigzag patterning. A further tenor and treble were added. 

Lady Caroline, Marchioness of Downshire (who resided at Easthampstead Park) and Revd. Osborne Gordon were responsible for the complete rebuilding of the church in 1867, and chose a London architect, J. W. Hugall for the task. He designed a building in the style of Victorian Gothic revival, using stone throughout except for the tower. 

When the Church was rebuilt it was dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene and St. Michael. However a few years later the church is referred to, and is to this day as, St. Michael and St. Mary Magdalene.[9]

It is a large building of ashlar stone erected, except for the lower part of the tower. It consists of a chancel, south-east vestry and organ chamber, nave, south transept, north aisle, south porch, south-west baptistery and north-west tower. 

 

Interior Features

Several notable pieces of ancient church furniture have been preserved. The original plain stone font was given a modern base and placed in the enlarged south aisle baptistry. Portions of the 15th Century rood screen were incorporated in a screen below the Organ. The pulpit is a combination of Victorian woodwork and recovered wood from the old Jacobean pulpit. Below are some of the listed highlights of the interior.

 

Font

The font, which is that of the former church, has a plain octagonal bowl on a modern base. The screen below the organ, facing the transept, appears to have been made up from the former rood screen, with 15th-century tracery below and 14th-century tracery above. There are also two shortened buttressed muntins and four pieces of 17th-century pierced ornament are placed above the screen. On the north side towards the chancel are four similar traceried heads.

 

Pulpit

The pulpit is made up of 17th-century woodwork; a panel on the north face has the following inscription: '1631, Unto this place a zeale I beare, to the widdows mit I may cumpear per me William Aylward.'

 

Monuments

Many slabs and monuments have been preserved from the former church; the oldest slab is to Edmund Thorold, who died in 1646. On the north wall is a marble slab to Elijah Fenton, the poet, of Shelton, Staffordshire, who died in 1730; on it is the following epitaph composed by Alexander Pope: 'This modest stone, what few vain marbles can, May truly say, Here lies an honest man, A poet, blessed beyond the poet's fate, Whom Heaven kept sacred from the proud and great, Foe to loud praise and friend to learned ease, Content with Science in the Vale of Peace, Calmly he looked on either life, and here Saw nothing to regret or there to fear; From Nature's temp' rate feast rose satisfied, Thanked Heaven that he had lived, and that he died.'

On the east wall of the nave is a small brass with the half-length figure of a man in a loose cloak belted at the waist, to Thomas Berwyk, who died in 1443.

In the tower walling is reset a small stone inscribed 'Henry Boyer 1664.'

There are other memorials to the Trumbull and Downshire families, to the poet, Elijah Fenton, and to the polar explorer Frederick George Jackson.

 

Windows

There are nineteenth-century stained glass windows by William Morris and four windows by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, including the great east window featuring the building's patron saint at the Last Judgment (from the Book of Daniel). This is probably the artist's best work in glass to be seen anywhere.

On 9 June 2013, a new stained glass window in the porch, by the artist Thomas Denny, was unveiled by John Nike OBE DL. The window depicts Cynegils King of Wessex's baptism, witnessed by King Oswald of Northumbria and two of the daughters of Cynegils. The baptism established Christianity in the Thames Valley and took place in Dorchester-on-Thames. The window marked the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

 

 

For more information, please do get in touch.

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