Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Winterbourne Monkton Church

St Mary Magdalene Church
The little Norman church at Winterbourne Monkton near Avebury - not really part of Swindon at all, but just a short bus ride away (no.49) through the beautiful, rolling Wiltshire countryside. This was my first visit to the church and village see entry "Bean field on a blustery day". The church is open to the public during daylight hours and is epitomises peace and tranquility in its beautiful setting on the edge of the World Heritage Site - Avebury.
Note from a leaflet in the church:
In about 928AD Glastonbury Abbey aquired Winterbourne Monkton and the Monks settled the village. They had a small building for worship but it is not clear if this was the foundation of the present church or not. However in 1133 there was a Chapel which is now the chancel.

A detail from the famous Norman font depicting a Sheela Na Gig - a fertility goddess figure. Most of these were later destroyed under Oliver Cromwell and this is a rare remaining example. It is interesting that this church is named after Mary Magdalene as historically she is meant to be the 'the Woman who knew the all' or 'Mary the Light-giver' and is associated with the feminine trilogy ruling birth, love and death.