Welford, St Gregory's
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: 13th-century sedilia, 12th-century round tower, Norman font
There was a church here at the time of the Domesday Book. The medieval church was owned by Abingdon Abbey until the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and the monks of Abingdon maintained a grange beside the church, where Welford House now stands. The early church was remodelled several times until it was completely dismantled in 1852. The Victorian work revealed even earlier Saxon foundations beneath the early medieval remains, and a coin from the reign of Edward the Confessor (mid 11th century) was uncovered. Some pieces of decorative medieval stonework were used to build a vinery beside the rectory in nearby Wickham. The Victorian rebuilding was incredibly thorough; for safety's sake the workmen took apart the tower, stone by stone, and re-erected it exactly as it had been before.
Below the woman's figure are outlines of no less than seven sons and twelve daughters. The woman is Lady Anne Parry (d. 1585), who served in the household of Queen Elizabeth and whose first husband was Sir Thomas Parry of Welford. The worn Latin inscription below the memorial translates as
'Whosoever thou mayst be that passest by, stay, read and weep. I am what thou wilt be;I had been what thou art; I prithee pray for me.O King Christ have mercy on the soul of John Westlake'
Summing up St Gregory's
I wasn't sure I like St Gregory's at first; that blasted combination of the round tower and Early English spire kept nagging at me, and the heavy concentration of Victorian stonework inside the church took some getting used to. But it grew on me, and by the time I left I was converted; its a wonderful combination of new and old, a time capsule, if you will, of medieval style and 19th century renaissance. Here in a nutshell is 1000 years of English history, social change and village life.
As a side-note, Welford Park is an extremely popular destination for visitors in early spring, when the woods surrounding the manor house are filled with snowdrops. By sheer luck we arrived on a sunny day in February when the snowdrops were out, and the little village was quite busy. We resisted the urge to explore the woods, as the churchyard itself was overflowing with snowdrops!
About Welford, St Gregory's Church
Address: Welford Road, Welford, Berkshire, England, RG20 8HU
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: Beside Welford Park. (note that the official postcode of the church is RG20 8HA, but if you use that in a satnav you'll end up in Wickham!)
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Welford Park - 0 miles (Garden)
Wickham, St Swithun's Church - 1.3 miles (Historic Church)
East Shefford, St Thomas' Church - 1.5 miles (Historic Church)
Boxford, St Andrew's Church - 1.6 miles (Historic Church)
Great Shefford, St Mary's Church - 2.2 miles (Historic Church)
Chaddleworth, St Andrew's Church - 3 miles (Historic Church)
Donnington Castle - 4.2 miles (Castle)
Lambourn Woodlands, St Mary's Church - 4.7 miles (Historic Church)
Nearest Accommodation to Welford, St Gregory's: