Tuesday, 12 February 2008

St Mary's Church - Rodbourne Cheney (an old Saxon Cross)

" There is no written record of a church on this site in the 13th century but two carved stones believed to be Saxon which have been incorporated into the present building may well have come from a Saxon Preaching Cross, possibly formed in the pattern known as "The Tree of Spiritual Life and Knowledge" - which would indicate the presence of an earlier place of worship on this site. The larger of the two stones, semi-circular in shape, can be seen below the ringing chamber window, some 29 feet from the ground on the north face of the tower. It appears to be the top of a cross - each point of the carving ends in seven branches , three on each side of the main cross beams. These branches end in knots, thought to represent fruit or leaves.
The other stone, rectangular, is built into the West wall of the North aisle and may be part of the cross - if theses stones are correctly identified they are very rare as only a few Saxon crosses have survived in this country". The church was much restored in 1848 - to such an extent that John Betjeman wrote of the church "so greatly restored in 1848, as practically to be a new building".
(Taken from the booklet 'History of St. Mary's Church' kindly provided by Jenny Bayliss who is a parishioner)

St Mary's Church - Rodbourne Cheney

I have been past this church many times on buses and by car and only really saw it for the first time quite recently. It is the parish church for Rodbourne Cheney which was originally a village called Hreod Burna after the stream which runs through it but later listed in the Domesday Book as Redbourne. John Aubrey wrote in 1666 "In the reign of Edward the advowson was in possession of Ralf Le Chanu, he being the posessessor of the manor, under Richard, Earl of Cornwall".