came to Wraysbury in 1848, now forming part of the One from Waterloo to
Windsor. lt enabled many to travel swiftly and economically outside the
village for the first time, shortening travelling times by horses and
enhancing trade, agriculture and the expansion of property development,
the latter necessitating the opening of a second station at Sunnymeads in
The Long Bridge looking towards the George Inn
© Wraysbury Village Archives
Following the arrival of the
Railway it was felt necessary to improve road access, and more
importantly, to alleviate the adverse effects of the annual floods which
frequently resulted in the village being cut off from the rest of the
Lord of the Manor, George Harcourt
suggested that a new road should be built on higher ground from Bowry’s
Barn to the Colne Bridge, to replace the old road which ran along ditches
susceptible to flooding.
The 1848 Tithe Map, drawn by
surveyor William Buckland shows the proposed route of the new road
(now the Staines Road - this has resulted in some of the older
building having their best side facing the River Colne and their back
doors now facing the Staines Road – in effect back to front.) Harcourt
also suggested a replacement for the old Long Bridge over the River Colne
should be built, and a new suspension bridge, designed and paid for by
Harcourt, was built by civil engineer Mr Dredge.
St. Andrews Parish Church
Werhard, a Saxon warrior, built an encampment here, perhaps on or near
the present site of the church. It is interesting to note that although
the whole surrounding area is very low lying, the church has been built
on the highest available ground in the village, presumably against the
risk of flooding.
The Approach Road to the Church from Windsor Road passes Church Farm,
only comparatively recently known as Manor Farm, on the left. The road
is lined with horse chestnut trees planted in the mid-nineteenth century
by the Gyll family. It is part of a very old right of way. Beginning at
the original Old Windsor Ferry, now no longer running, it crosses Old Ferry
Drive, Welley Road and Windsor Road to the Church Approach Road. From the
South side of the Churchyard, it passes through an iron swing stile and
crosses the fields, touching the former vicarage grounds and thence to
the ferry at Magna Carta Island and Ankerwycke Priory. A former Vicarage
was on the site of Wraysbury House next the station. The present Vicarage
is now in Welley Road having moved from Station Road.
Date Of The Building
It is impossible to say when the first Church was built on this site,
but it was almost certainly in Saxon times. In 1112 the gift of the living
belonged to the Abbot of St. Peter in Gloucester whence it passed into
royal patronage. In the reign of Edward III (1327) it was given to the
Dean and Canons of Windsor, in whose hands it remains. The date of the
oldest parts of the present building is probably around the time of the
sealing of Magna Carta, 1215. The name of the first known incumbent was
Robert de Burnell, who was Rector of Wraysbury, and Archdeacon of Buckinghamshire.
He resigned the living in 1219. The living continued to be a Rectory until
it was appropriated in 1349. Since then it has been a vicarage. Wraysbury
Church was also the mother-church of Langley until the death of the Reverend
Charles Champnes in 1855 when Langley was separated. It seems highly probable
that the Diocesan of that time, the Bishop of Lincoln, dedicated the Church
in 1215 when he came DOWN to Magna Carta from the district seat of the
BISHOPRIC. This would allow a period of 4 years INCUMBENCY for the first
In 1862 the Church was restored by Raphael Brandon, who also restored
about the same time the neighbouring Parish Church at Datchet. He gave
each Church a "Broach Spire", that is an octagonal spire set on a square
tower. The antique south porch was taken down and the present south aisle
Exterior Of The Building
The restoration of the church in 1862 radically changed the outward
appearance of the building, although much of the original fabric remains.
The North and South aisles were largely rebuilt and the present stone broach
spire added. The whole cost of this was then about K1,200. The Church tower
had hitherto been built of wood but had suffered from a fire at some unknown
date. Previously the exterior had been faced with brick and a kind of cement
but at the restoration it was re-surfaced. There is a water colour of the
church exterior in 1839 to be seen at the back of the church near the font.
Interior Of The Church
Probably the first impression on entering the church is that it is rather
dark. This is largely due to the Victorian practice of filling every
available source of light with stained glass. The Church can seat
about 290 persons.
This is always at the west end of a church as it is held that only Christians
should come near an altar. A baby cannot be a Christian until it is baptised.
The North door of a church is generally considered unlucky, as it was thought
that through it hurried the Devil when driven out of a child at Baptism.
The St. Andrew’s font is the oldest piece of masonry in the Church. The
lower portion is the inverted top of a 13th century pillar. The centre
piece is of a later date, but the rim is the oldest part of all, probably
The Tower And Bells
An earlier church tower at St. Andrew’s was of wood and very much shorter
than the present one. The new stone tower, erected at the 1862 restoration,
stands partly over the vault of the Harcourt family. It rehoused the six
ancient bells. The oldest of these is by Henry Knight of Reading and dated
1591. The remaining five are by Eldridge and dated 1657 and 1664. In 1880
two more bells were dedicated by the Bishop Suffragan of Reading at a cost
of £92, virtually raised by voluntary subscription. There was also
a gallery to accommodate a choir of ten with a small organ, given and blessed
on a confirmation day in 1839 by the Bishop of Lincoln. The gallery and
organ were taken away and a new organ was placed in front of the Lady Chapel
in the general restoration of 1862. It is hoped that one day the Lady Chapel
will be restored to its former intention.
The framework of the nave is formed by original 13th century pillars
and arches. The pillars are massive and uncommon in design in that they
are square and have keel edge rolls at the angles. A line, a few feet above
the top of the arches, indicates the probable existence of a flat ceiling,
erected in the early days of the Reformation. At the same time the nave
was filled with tall box pews for the use of the wealthier inhabitants.
Above the chancel arch were two large tablets containing the Ten Commandments.
These are no longer in existence. Interesting also are the typical Early
English decorative flower carvings at the head of the tower arch capitals.
The North Aisle
At the east end of this aisle is the Lady Chapel, dating from the early
1500’s. There were niches on either side of the altar wall for statues
of Our Lady and St. John. These were blocked up with cement, possibly during
the Civil War by Cromwell’s orders. It is unfortunate that this ancient
Chapel is obscured by the organ and that it should be necessary to use
it as a vestry. In the future, subject to available funds, it is hoped
to restore it to the sacred use for which it was built.
The South Aisle
This was restored in 1862 after a previous destructive fire. The present
chapel here was restored in 1956 by local labour, the expense being largely
borne by Mr. and Mrs. Godfrey, in memory of their son Cyril. The Chapel
Sanctuary Lamp was given by the children of the Catechism.
The present pulpit (1680) was originally the top part of a three decker
which towered by on the north side of the chancel arch. The Parish Clerk
sat in the lower portion. From the centre portion were read the lessons
from the Bible, and from the top were given the sermons by the Priest.
Over this was a sounding board, which can now be seen at the west end of
the church and used as a table. It is hoped that, one day, it will be restored
to its original use.
Here, although restored, is the oldest remaining part of the church.
The restoration of November, 1928 revealed a doorway and lancet window
in the north wall, previously blocked up. These are thought to date from
the 15th and 13th centuries respectively. The door communicates with the
Lady Chancel (now the Vestry) and is splayed in an easterly direction towards
the altar, although the reason for this is not clear. A portion of the
original red tiled floor, at the original level of the chancel may be seen
on the threshold of this doorway. On the north wall also can be traced
portions of early wall painting, reminding us that in Early English churches
the walls were richly decorated in many colours. The chancel arch also
is about seven hundred years old.
The ceiling was most beautifully painted by a local artist in 1955.
The ancient wooden beams around the base of the roof most probably indicate
its original height.
On the floor of the chancel are some interesting brasses. The small
one (9 in.) by the altar rails is of a youth, John Stonor who died in 1512
aged 16. From the diminutive size of the figure it has been supposed to
represent a student of Eton College or a Bluecoat Boat, but the costume,
a long gown with a furred border and a close-fitting hood with streamers
surmounted by a round cap bound with fur, is probably that of a Doctor
at Laws. He was the son of a Tudor Wraysbury squire. The brass of
a Knight (2 ft. 6 ins.) is in Tudor armour of the early sixteenth century
and is set under a rich canopy. His lady is missing, for she and other
brasses were stolen, probably during Cromwell’s Commonwealth period. In
the chancel floor also is set a stone to Edward Gould, a servant of Charles
II, who accompanied his King in exile and after his restoration to the
throne in 1660.
In the South Wall are the 13th century carved Piscina (for washing the
sacred vessels) and Sedilia (seating for the clergy during services). There
is an ancient beam in the roof from which hangs the Blessed Sacrament Lamp,
given in memory of Cyril Cobb, a former parishioner. The modem altar is
adorned with six silver lights, given in memory of the Reverend Lewis Hake,
for forty years incumbent of the parish. The magnificent white embroidered
altar frontal is in memory of Mr. Greatrix, whose grand-daughter, Mrs.
Poulter, recently had it renovated. Mention should also be made of the
new red carpet in the Sanctuary, given in 1963 by voluntary subscription
by members of the congregation in memory of May Bicknell, a faithful church
worker over many years and other faithful Parishioners. It is intended
to extend the carpeting down the Aisle when funds permit.
The Church Plate
The Silver Chalice and Paten are of 1634. The Chalice is large and only
used at Christmas and Easter when large numbers receive Communion. A smaller,
more recent, chalice serves for the remainder of the year.
George Lipscomb wrote a four-volume history of Buckinghamshire in 1847
and leaves the impression that Wraysbury Church was a rich treasure house
of monuments, but many have apparently not survived successive restorations
of the building. The eighteenth century monuments in particular are interesting
not so much for those they commemorate as for their workmanship and inscriptions,
so typical of the period. A later tablet is in commemoration of Gordon
Gyll (1802 – 1878), who wrote a history of Wraysbury containing some 200
pages, and published in 1862. It was he who rescued Lipscomb the historian,
from a pauper’s grave.
The monuments and plaques are too numerous to describe individually
but a full descriptive list is given in Gyll’s "History of Wraysbury".
The New Porch
This is a comparatively recent porch, built in 1935 and given in memory
of William Warwick de Buriatte, 1888 – 1932, by his wife. The family for
many years ran the paper mill on the parish boundary beyond the station.
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