Friends of St Mary's Winkfield
Registered Charity 1162342
St Mary's church is a warm welcoming church with a friendly feel and a unique interior. It is located a few miles south of Windsor, in an area that was originally part of the Crown land known as Windsor Forest.
Today, St Mary's church has a thriving congregation of old and young, with 1662 services for the former (mostly), and less formal worship for the latter including Messy Church. The traditional services (normally 11am on Sundays) are supported by a small choir, augmented by other local singers on special occasions, and by a Junior Choir. The organ is played regularly by local musicians.
The church is also used for concerts, weddings, funerals and civic services, and supports local schools.
St Mary's church is one of very few English churches with twin naves, separated by a central aisle. In the centre of the aisle are five massive oaken pillars that support the valley between the roof structures of the two naves.
The photograph was taken from the chancel, looking westwards down the aisle at the first pillar.
The village of Winkfield (perhaps originally 'Wineca's Field' is mentioned in a survey of 943AD. 1298 is date of the first recorded Vicar of Winkfield (Calfridus de Pickeforde).
The original church was built in the late 13th century and was much smaller. It was built of puddingstone, the material you can still see from outside at the east end of the southern wall of the church.
The church was greatly extended in 1592, by the addition of the second nave. This required new pillars to support the new roof structure. Queen Elizabeth I is believed to have donated huge oaktrees to form the five wooden pillars.
One of the pillars had decayed by the time of Queen Victoria's reign, and Her Majesty is credited with replacing it.
A fine new bell-tower was built for the church in 1629. It contains a peal of 6 bells that are regularly rung today.
The bell-tower was re-pointed and extensively renovated in 2006. The photograph was taken at the time that the scaffolding was being put up to allow the work to be done.
In Victorian times, the church was subjected to a very successful renovation. The current organ dates to this period; it is set beside the chancel, which has a barrel roof and beautiful tiling that depicts figures from the Bible, as well as sacred texts.
Behind the altar is a finely carved bas relief of the Last Supper.
Winkfield is celebrated worldwide by fruitgrowers as the 'source' of the 'Vicar of Winkfield Pear', a 'heritage' variety with a very good reputation for its reliability, productivity and fruit quality. (Google it!) The vicar in question was William Rham (1778-1843), renowned as an agriculturalist, who took up tenure as Vicar in 1808. Two young 'Vicar' of Winkfield pear trees were planted a few years ago in St Mary's churchyard.
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