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Padworth
St. John the Baptist's Church

Padworth has a perfect example of a little Norman parish church - and is one of the smallest in the county. It was entirely built in 1130. Only the windows and the roof of the nave have been replaced, in Tudor times. The porch was added in 1890. It has a small memorial to Civil War soldiers killed in a skirmish nearby after the First Battle of Newbury (1643). The apsidal chancel is typical of the Norman period, but was also used by the Saxons and, hence, it has been suggested that the building replaces a previous structure of the same plan.

The apse is particularly pleasing to the eye from the interior. Luckily, it is no longer stuffed full of the grand monuments to the Brightwell and Darby-Griffith families which have now been spread around the walls of the nave. The huge mourner on Christopher Griffith's monument (1776) is particularly impressive. Ledger stones to the Brightwells remain below the altar. These people lived at Padworth House which can be easily seen if you exit the little gate in north-east corner of the churchyard. It is now a college. The chancel arch has beautifully craved Romanesque capitals featuring foliage and mythical beasts and there is a good Norman doorway outside. A 13th century wall painting of St. Nicholas, to the right of the arch, gives some idea of how the place would have been decorated in medieval times, though it is a little difficult to make out today. Above was once a flat ceiling and the little door high up in the gable gave access to the roof space.

 

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