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Brief History

The Church

Dating from 1162, Walter Gifford, Earl of Buckingham gave the church to Notley Abbey, Buckinghamshire. Following the dissolution of the monasteries, Christ Church, Oxford became the patron.  Rectorial rights were restored in 1916. The church today consists of chancel, north and south chapels, north vestry, nave, aisles, south porch and west tower.

An 1857 church plan shows two rows of pews in the north chapel, facing south. Also there was the organ, the organist facing east. This remained until 1987 when the present organ was installed.

At this time the vestry was built, half its present size, which explains the exterior window facing into it from the east end of the north (Vanderstegen) chapel. It was enlarged in 1883.

The plan also shows a gallery at the west end, for 70 children, this was built in 1605 as a singers’ gallery.

The twelfth-century font of Purbeck marble was immediately south of the pillar facing the porch, where today flower displays are placed. It was for many years buried in the Old Rectory garden.

The tower was partially destroyed in the civil war in 1643. It was rebuilt in timber and then replaced by the present tower in 1878. It contains a ring of 8 bells, the oldest (Fourth) bears the inscription ‘Prayes God 1637’. The 1663 weathervane now resides by the Altar.

The south aisle was added in 1878, the pulpit then being rotated slightly to its present alignment.

In 1924 the chancel was extended ten feet and the south (Ladychapel) added. The existing three-light east window was moved into this new chapel and a new five-light window installed in the extended sanctuary.

The restored south doorway is twelfth-century, with a small cross on its east jamb.

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Michael Crosbie

Adjacent lands

People have lived here for thousands of years, not surprisingly a most desirable part of the Thames valley with luscious meadows and building materials.

The finds beneath the soil have recently been documented by both Wessex Archaeology and Thames Valley Archaeological Services. Their findings reveal the occupation of Neolithic Stone Age folk, Bronze and Iron Age settlement, to extensive medieval and Saxon history up to the building of St. Peters Early Norman Church and its Priest house and Rectory. The TVAS report is available online.

Aspects of the Medieval Rectory and its gardens excite historians with unique features of Wall construction and Kitchen Garden management. Read more at the Friends of Caversham Court website