SS. Peter & Paul's Church
The present church at Yattendon was built in about 1450 by Sir John Norreys of Ockwells Manor & Yattendon Castle. He was the Master of the Wardrobe to King Henry VI and could well afford it. He is remembered by small sculptures at the doorway and the Norreys arms in one of the windows (although this was the geometric arms adopted by his 17th century descendants, not the ravens that he used). Ashmole records how, in 1665, there remained stained glass in the chancel asking the viewer to: "Pray for the well-being of John Norreys Esquire who built this church a-new". The main east window also featured Sir John, his two wives and four children, kneeling in pray in the manner of founders. Sadly, these windows were removed in the 18th century. The local architect, Alfred Waterhouse, added the porch and vestry in 1881 and the spire fifteen years later. He also heavily restored the rood screen. It just about retains some of the original 15th century woodwork. The staircase to the missing rood loft is a particularly fine example.
Yattendon Church is famous for the use of the Yattendon Hymnal which, in 1899, was edited by Waterhouse's son-in-law, Robert Bridges, the later poet laureate. It is a collection of ancient hymns designed for the use of a village choir and is considered a pioneering landmark in the history of texted English hymns.
The building has an interesting array of wall monuments, most of which are not listed in the Buildings of England. The is an elegant late Georgian pyramid-topped tablet to George III's dance master, Sir John Gallini, adjoining a beautifully caligraphed oval slate to the newspaper proprietor, Lord Iliffe. Thos to Alfred Waterhouse and his family are very disappointing, considering the magnificent architecture he produced. The best monument is the Rococo scrolled tablet to the Rev. John Harris, a grandson of Sir Edward Norreys. It features an appealing oval cartouche showing a skull of death, a snake of eternity, a winged hour-glass and the scales of St. Michael. Though rather plain, the chief monument in terms of interest, is that erected to the great Elizabethan soldier, Sir John Norreys. He is known as the Drake of the Army, though he is little remembered today. The long inscription tells is story. It was put up by his collateral descendant, Norreys Bertie, in the 18th century. Neville Chamberlain's Principal Private Secretary, Sir Arthur Rucker's memorial is rather plain and does not match up to the fine heraldry of his father's tablet above it.
This is not the official Yattendon Church website. Please do NOT mail me about use of the church. Visit the C of E's Church Near You website instead.
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