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Saxon window discovery throws light on the past

The discovery was made by architect and SPAB (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) member Andrew Plumridge, of Peter Scott and Partners, during the course of repairs to the chancel of the church. The window came to light as Mr Plumridge and colleagues worked on an area badly affected by damp. When sections of inappropriate cement were removed, the ancient window was founded intact and embedded in the wall.  It is likely that it had been ‘lost’ to sight for hundreds of years.

Realising that this was a potentially significant discovery, Andrew Plumridge consulted Oxford Diocesan Archaeologist Julian Mumby and Reading University medieval specialist Professor Roberta Gilchrist, who both concluded that window pre-dates the Norman Conquest of 1066. Julian Mumby’s opinion is that this is a simple Saxon window, with a hinged inner wooden panel to let in air and light. Distinctive ancient mortar work around the opening played a key role in the identification process and future work to protect the window will also preserve this important feature.

Andrew Plumridge said: “Both the church and village are delighted with the find, especially as we believe there are, at most, just three others in the country – and this could certainly be the oldest. It raises the status of the church and confirms other Saxon evidence around the chancel.”

Matthew Slocombe, of SPAB said: “We were hugely excited when Andrew told us of his discovery. This is such a rare and unusual find. It is a great privilege to be able to see the work of a Saxon craftsman who lived more than 1000 years ago. Also, as we continue to battle the tide of inappropriate UVPC replacement windows that blight historic properties throughout the country – often causing enormous problems for the buildings in the process – it’s a delight to see that a traditional, wooden, hand-crafted window can stand the test of time more than a millennia after its construction.                                                         

“At SPAB we would love to hear from anyone who thinks they have found an earlier, wooden crafted window.”

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