Water Stratford Church
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 dedicated to St Giles and is usually stated to have been built by 1240AD, the date of inauguration of the first known parish priest. But the Norman tympani above the doors are thought to date from around 1150AD, so the church must have been built well before 1240 (unless the tympani were brought from elsewhere or were part of an earlier church on the site). As the chancel is not perfectly centred on the nave, a plausible sequence would be a simple barn-like nave built in the twelfth century (an apse at its east end would be typical for that period, though there is no proof of this), a chancel added in place of the apse by 1240 (the chancel arch is Early-English, not Norman), and the tower built in 1350.
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. As nothing was done, the Bishop of Oxford 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 on the church 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 a slideshow 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 and 2016 Remembrance Services and 2017 Mothering Sunday Service.
Many thanks to Revd Liz Simpson for the two delightful pictures on this page, which she took early in 2010.