Tilbrook history

Inside All Saints
Inside All Saints

In the Doomsday Survey, lands in “Tilebroc” were held by a certain William de Warren and 20 “Sokemen”, but there is no mention of a church, although we know that it must have been begun almost immediately afterwards. Our list of Rectors ( to be seen near the entrance to the tower ) dates from 1234, and the value of the living in 1291 is given as £10 13s 4d per year!

As an indication of the history attached to All Saints’, there is evidence of construction dating from every century from the 12th to the 16th, Victorian rebuilding in  the 19th century and 20th century renovations.

The oldest side of the church is on the north, hidden away from view as one approaches the south porch from Church Lane. The south porch itself is, nevertheless, old by normal standards, dating from the 14th century, as is most of the external structure of the church.

The very oldest parts of the church ( 12th and 13th  century) are on your left as you enter. In the centre of the church there are two 12th century columns, being the remains of late 12th century arcades. The church of that date would have been about half the size of the present one, terminating at an altar somewhere just to the east of the present entrance. There was probably also a small central tower which was removed in the 13th century when the two other bays of the nave were added and the north aisle widened.

About 1330 the chancel was built on its present site together with the adjoining north vestry, and a few years later the new north aisle was extended eastwards to link up with this.

Later in the 14th century, the tower and spire were built into the last arch of the nave arcade. Quite why it was decided not to simply extend the church westwards to build a tower is not known. Perhaps the present public footpath through the churchyard was even then a public right of way which prevented this. The spire was restored in 1960.

The original church would have been very dark with small thin windows, one of which, rebuilt in the 13th century, is at the end of the north aisle. In the 15th century the high level windows above the north aisle roof were added. It is assumed that similar windows were also added in the south wall of the nave but these were replaced by the existing much larger windows in 1866. All Saints’ only has small fragments of early stained glass – the two roundels near the top of the east window are 16th century and portions of  St. Christopher in the south chancel window are 14th and 15th century.

The roof of the nave is a 19th century replacement, at which time most of the south wall was also rebuilt. The north aisle and side chapel still carry a late 15th century roof, which was restored in 1962-64.

Inside the church there are many interesting fittings and details from throughout the history of the building – two tombs and brasses from circa 1400 ( since covered by the organ ), a selection of 15th and 16th century wooden screens ( a particularly beautiful section of one of the 16th century originals is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum), stone water basins, a squint (supposedly to allow lepers to view the priest whilst being kept separate from the rest of the congregation ), a 15th century font, numerous carved angels and faces, not to mention some amazing gargoyles.

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