Church of St Peter and St Paul Wantage

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Date of travel

July, 2019

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The market town of Wantage is chiefly famed as the birthplace of Alfred the Great who is said to have been possibly christened on the site where the church of St Paul and St Peter now stands.

Mentioned in the will of a Saxon noblewoman, a church has stood in Wantage at least as early as AD 950. The present church was not founded until after the Norman Conquest.

It is said that the poet John Betjeman worshipped here, and a short distance from the church you can find a small public garden named in his honour.

St Peter & St Paul’s is cruciform in design, with a large central tower and large transepts.

A fine, full length brass dating from 1414 of Sir Ivo Fitzwaryn, the father-in-law of Sir Richard ‘Dick’ Whittington can be seen on a crossing pillar in the north Transept.

To the left hand side of the High Altar is an early 14th century demi-brass figure of a priest (one of the oldest of its type in England). There are 18, 15th century stalls in the Chancel which have misericords and fine natural carvings on the bench ends.

Over the south door is the earliest shape of window containing glass from another building, depicting St Stephen and an unknown bishop. The tower piers are 13th century with crusaders’ crosses scratched into their bases.

The organ was originally built by Allen of Bristol in 1860. It was moved and substantially rebuilt in a new case in 1997.

This church has been subjected to many changes and contains ancient treasures which are worth stopping to see.

Caroline Hutchings

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