Monday, June 30, 2008

Winterbourne Monkton church

Winterbourne Monkton, 761 ha. (1,879 a.), lies in the upper Kennet valley north of Avebury. ) The eastern head stream of the Kennet flows through the parish from north to south and by 869 had given the name Winterbourne to lands there.
From: 'Parishes: Winterbourne Monkton', A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 12:

Female giving birth to what? note blue waves. The figure looks like it has been carved in at a later date to the zig-zag, this probably accounts for some of the discrepancy in the body, having scratched the 'waves', out the carver was unable to 'add' the face - so is this medieval graffiti relating to a pagan story......

Winterbourne Monkton Church

A probable cap stone brought to the church in the 18th C from the nearby Mill longbarrow, destroyed by a farmer
staddle stones under the old wooden building by the church

Colouring in the font - this seems to be a window

note blue paint on Norman zig-zag

slight protuberance (the only one) on decorative work below the female depiction
There are two interesting fonts in this particular area, the one at Avebury and the Winterbourne font. Some would argue that the above is a Sheela na gig figure but it is not that apparent, is she giving birth to foliage? why is her face blank? And why do her arms seem to represent twisting snakes or even perhaps similar to an Indian goddess.
the font seems to have been carved in the 12th century, and has the definitive Norman 'wave'
zig-zag highlighted in blue paint in places. Red paint also appears, some just beneath the figure and some on the decorative arcading beneath.
The land around here was owned by the Benedictine Glastonbury Abbey, and can be seen as a monastic grange, with lay brothers probably farming the land. The desmene lands here at Winterbourne totalled 550 acres; in addition the abbot held a further 235 acres of hillside pasture, open to all tenants in the manor. ( The Monastic Grange in Medieval England - Colin Platt)
Note; B.M. MS Harley 3961 - On the desmene land, 1 acre was occupied by the site 32 acres were meadow and pasture, and 517 acres were arable.
From the above it can be seen that it was mostly an arable farm, and this would account for the windmills in the village itself for grinding corn, and of course the old staddle stones under the wooden building at the front of the church keeping the rats and mice at bay from the grain.
A windmill was built west of the village for Abbot of Glastonbury 1265 (Adami de Domerham Glast.Cart.) was let in the early 14th century. A new windmill was built in the early 16th century. Another windmill stood north-east of the village in 1815 but was disused in 1889. In 1980 only the stones if its base remained beside Windmill house.
Before 1229 Winterbourne Monkton vicarage was endowed with certain small tithes and all offerings. (fn. 135) The hay tithes of Winterbourne Monkton and 1 qr. of corn and 1 qr. of oats, due annually from Cirencester abbey's lands in Avebury, were then added. (fn. 136) An additional payment to the vicar of 3 qr. of wheat and 2 qr. of barley from the abbey's Avebury lands and of all tithes from a piece of land called 'old land' was agreed in 1268. (fn. 137) All the allowances of grain were replaced c. 1630 by a yearly pension of £8. (fn. 138) At least two further augmentations of the vicarage were made but in neither case is the date or donor recorded. In the 1670s the incumbent received hay, wool, lamb, and lesser tithes from all but the demesne of Winterbourne Monkton manor, and corn tithes from a few acres in the parish. (fn. 139) In 1815 grain tithes from 100 a. and other tithes from all but the 640 a. of the demesne were paid to the vicar.....
From: 'Parishes: Winterbourne Monkton', A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 12: Ramsbury and Selkley hundreds; the borough of Marlborough (1983), pp. 192-198.
The dedication of the church of ST. MARY MAGDALENE has not been traced before the mid 18th century. (fn. 161) The church is built of coursed sarsen rubble and has a chancel with north vestry, a nave with south porch, and a timber-framed and boarded tower rising from the west end of the nave. The bowl of the font is of the late 12th century but the earliest part of the building is the 13th-century chancel. The nave was completely rebuilt in the 14th century. Beside the chancel arch there are cusped niches and a small piscina to serve an altar. In the 15th century the east window and the nave roof were renewed and the porch was added. The tower, the date of which is not known, is supported on the west side by the nave wall. On the east side there are two heavy cylindrical wooden posts which rise from the floor of the nave. The church was refitted in the 17th century. A communion table of 1678 and an early 17th-century pulpit survive and there were formerly pews and a communion rail of similar date to the pulpit. In the 18th century a gallery was built at the west end of the nave. It was removed before 1878 when the church was restored
From: 'Parishes: Winterbourne Monkton', A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 12: Ramsbury and Selkley hundreds; the borough of Marlborough (1983), pp. 192-198.
Christianised megaliths in Brittany St.Michel chapel on top of tumulus in Brittany..
The above two christianised sites in Brittany are included to show that the heavy foot of the church came down heavily on anything that had pagan beliefs or a pagan past which included the worship of stones.
Richard Hayman in his article Green Men & the Way of All Flesh, argues that such things as sheela na gigs and green men found in church stone decoration are the result of style related to christian beliefs and stories. In fact that the sheela na gig came to this country in the 12th century, it had previously started in the 11th century in France. How does he translate them then? it is in the transition between secular and sacred, Christian art showing the opposition of both virtue and vice......

1 comment:

Tony said...

I've just posted about Winterbourne Monkton over at

I hadn't spotted the red window. Fascinating.