Water Stratford Church
Links to online services past and present appear HERE
Cumulative village-related material from our Benefice magazine, The Link, appears HERE
The annual reports for 2019 are shown HERE

The parishes of Biddlesden, Shalstone, Tingewick, Turweston, Water Stratford and Westbury make up the West Buckingham Benefice, part of the Buckingham Deanery, which is part of the Oxford Diocese of the Church of England.  Details of services at Water Stratford can be found on the A Church Near You website.

Water Stratford church is a Grade I listed building and is dedicated to St Giles.  It is usually stated to have been built by 1240AD, the date of inauguration of the first known parish priest shown in Victoria County History. However, as the Norman tympana above the doors are thought to date from no later than 1150AD, the church must have been built well before 1240 unless the tympana came from elsewhere or from an earlier church on the site.  The chancel is not perfectly centred on the nave and the chancel arch is Early-English, not Norman, so the simple barn-like nave surely pre-dates the chancel.  An apse at its eastern end would be typical for the Norman period, though there is no proof of this, with the chancel subsequently replacing the apse.
National and local history may also be factors in constructing a plausible date sequence. 1150 is during The Anarchy, so the more settled times before the end of Henry I's reign in 1135 could well be more likely.  The village's overlord at this time was Robert D'Oyly the younger who founded Osney Abbey at the request of his wife Edith Forne and gave some of the village to the abbey.  So the
building of our nave 
may be directly due to Edith or indirectly through the abbey.  The date of 1240 for the chancel seems fine, being in the reign of the very religious Henry III, but the date of 1350 usually given for the tower, though falling in the great reign of Edward III, coincides with the Black Death.  So an educated guess might approximately date the nave to 1135, the chancel to 1240, and the tower to 1345.  Research is hindered by the fact that our records are mostly held in Lincoln; the County of Buckinghamshire was only transferred from Lincoln diocese to Oxford diocese in 1837-45.  Indeed, Oxford itself was part of Lincoln diocese until 1542.

There is a date stone of 1652 above the south door.  This is the year following the final triumph of the Parliamentarians in the English Civil War, so could indicate when the church was stripped of any remaining ornamentation.  By the early nineteenth century the church was in such disrepair that the churchwardens were told to make it safe and, as nothing was done, the Bishop issued an Edict ordering that the church be taken down, stone by stone, and rebuilt.  Thus in 1828/9 the nave and chancel were rebuilt with the original outstanding features reinstated.  The tower was thoroughly repaired but remained standing, although at some point it was reduced in height to the present situation where it is barely taller than the nave.  Joseph Bosworth is said by Myres to have 'restored the chancel' while he was Rector (1858-76), and further work was done in 1890.

By 2008 the church was again in need of repair and a Restoration Appeal produced enough funds to re-tile the entire church roof and redecorate the interior.  The work took place in 2009, starting on 5th October and ending just in time for our Carol Service to be held in the refurbished church on 20th December.  As well as the usual service, we formally reopened and gave thanks for the restored church, and our carols were accompanied for the first time by a wind band comprising the rector and five villagers.  The final work using the proceeds of the appeal was the rebuilding of the southern half of the churchyard wall late in 2013.

Further pages give a guide to the church, features on the village war memorial and the Franckyshe family memorial, and pictures of the churchyard in different seasons.  The list of past Rectors shows which ones are known to be buried here and there are potted histories of some of them, in addition to the major entries for the two famous Rectors, John Mason and Joseph Bosworth.  Transcriptions of parish registers and churchyard records are also on this site, as are notes on the agricultural celebrations that we try to observe in our church and the text of our 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018 Remembrance services, the 2017 Mothering and Midsummer services, the 2018 and 2019 Christmas Day services and the online-only Easter 2020 and Summer 2020 services.

Many thanks to Revd Liz Simpson for the two delightful photographs on this page, which she took early in 2010.