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Demonic Intervention
at Bray Church

Berkshire seems to have held a special interest for the Devil when it came to the building of churches. For, as at Winkfield, Bray's Parish Church also suffered from demonic intervention.

The only church in the parish of Bray used to stand at Builderswell, the area around the Monkey Island crossroads near Water Oakley. It was here in the fourteenth century that the Queen of England once spotted the building whilst out with a hunting party from Windsor Castle. The old church looked very tumble-down and neglected, and the Queen commented to her followers that it might be 'suggested' to the Bishop that the building should be pulled down and replaced by a new church.

It wasn't long before the Bishop of Salisbury was approached on the subject, and two officials were sent to inspect Builderswell Church. They quickly decided that the Queen had a point and arrangements were made for the structure's demolition.

When the rickety old church was no more, workers set about building a new one in beautiful gothic style on the same spot. After only one day the beginnings of the new edifice could be seen well above ground as work quickly progressed. But Satan had decided that now this area of Berkshire had been rid of its Christian centre he did not want another to reappear. So that night he sent a group of his demons to tear down all that had been raised the previous day. In the morning the poor workmen found nothing but a pile of wood and stone. Puzzled though they were, there was nothing they could do but start from scratch once more. At first this was just a nuisance, but when the demons returned night after night the situation became quite impossible. So the church officials were sent for again.

The officials had come up against such cases before and knew exactly the action to take. The only way to overcome the demons was to move the site of the church to somewhere else in the parish and give prayers to St. Michael who was famed for defeating the Devil. The builders did as they were told and decided on a site for the church by the ford at Bray. However, they were a little too late for there was no longer enough money available for the building to be completed. The Bishop had only allocated a certain amount, and with so much work destroyed the coffers had rapidly emptied.

In desperation the Bishop's representatives called a meeting with the local villagers to discuss the situation. After much deliberation, the people of Bray agreed that they would raise the money to build the church, so long as the diocese would pay for the construction of a chantry chapel.

At last Bray's church was put up without hindrance. The people knew that St. Michael had heard their prayers, so they dedicated it in his honour. Round behind the church the Bishop had the chantry chapel built just as promised; and to remind everyone of the troubles which the Devil had caused them an old Saxon carving of a dog from the church at Builderswell was placed in the wall.

Next: Discussion of the Legend
On to: Places associated with the Legend

 

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