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Bucklebury
St. Mary's Church

What a doorway! Bucklebury Church has the finest Norman entrance in the county and one of the best to be seen anywhere in England. Carved around 1150, it depicts row upon row of chevrons, rosettes, faces and flowers. It is topped by a strange bearded mask crowned with an orb and cross. High up on the tower there are further carvings, of the 15th century. One depicts a man combing a winch, the rebus of the Winchcombe descendants of the famous Jack O'Newbury. The family later became the Packers and the Hartleys. They lived at Bucklebury House and have a good collection of hatchments in the church: a relative rarity for Berkshire. They are also remembered on the chancel beam inscribed "1591 Francis Winchecom Esqvier build this" and the many heraldic monuments in this part of the church. Of particular note is that with weeping cherubs, to the blind Sir Henry Winchcombe and his two wives (1703), the last of the line. His heiress was his daughter, the Viscountess Bolingbroke, whose ledger stone lies within the altar rails. Other nobles commemorated here are the Count and Countess De Palatiano, with textual plaques forming part of the arts and crafts style mosaic decoration in the chancel. The Winchcombes once had funerary helms and swords on display here too, however, they have been removed for security reasons. Note the window of their family pew which features a sundial and tiny fly. The bug looks real, but is painted on the glass. The old parish chest, hollowed from a single piece of wood, is said to have come from Reading Abbey which once owned the manor. Bucklebury has the finest set of parish registers in the county dating from 1538. Vicars have included Guy Carleton, a 17th century Bishop of Bristol and Chichester, who was ejected from Bucklebury during the Civil War for his Royalist sympathies. He was imprisoned in Lambeth Palace but escaped by climbing out of a window!

Architecture: Early Norman church with 12th century North Chapel, 15th century tower and 18th century chancel.

Monuments: Sir Henry Winchcombe 1703 Heraldic.
 

    Nash Ford Publishing 2001. All Rights Reserved.