A little overview…

“In 1226, Henry III granted to the church of All Saints on Binfield a piece of ground for making a courtyard”.

All Saints’ is a Grade II* listed church with a history going back to the 12th Century. It was originally one of the chapels of the Royal Manor of Cookham, that was given to the Abbey of Cirencester by Henry I, and records show that the church was appropriated in 1347 by the Abbot. The church which stands today dates back to the 14th Century, with mid 1800’s additions and restorations designed by the architect, Benjamin Ferry.

There are many historical features including the Norman font bowl, the 14th Century carved wooden porch, and a 15th Century window with glass depicting St. George and the Dragon. In the chancel you can see the oldest half-effigy brass memorial in Berkshire in honour of the Rector of Binfield, dated 1361.

The church has remained an integral part of the community over the years. The poet Alexander Pope lived nearby and sang in the church choir as a boy in the early 1700s and John Constable spent his honeymoon at the Rectory in 1816 and sketched All Saints’ Church twice.

Today, we celebrate many baptisms, marriages and funerals at the church. Did you know the Queen attended a Christening at All Saints’, just after she was married, in 1948?  All of these occasions are added to the Parish records which date back to 1538. Perhaps there are records of your ancestors here?

Read on for more detail…

The Church Exterior
The early Norman church, originally built on this site, was constructed mostly of wood, but in 1350 more durable local materials were used. The outer surface was covered in pebbly ironstone bonded together with lime mortar. The East end was rebuilt in Victorian times and can be identified by the facings of split flint.

The tower was added in the 1440s and the battlements and stair turret were constructed in Victorian times. Five of the bells were originally from 1698, an additional treble bell was provided in 1822. The clock was a significant addition in the 18th century and is in its original wrought-iron frame.
The porch, providing a covered entrance to the South door, was at one time in front of the North door. Much of its timber dates from the mid-14th century. The axe-hewn beams and the crown post supporting the gable are original.

The Font.
On entering the South door, one of the first items to be seen is the font, the bowl of which is thought to be the only relic from the original Norman building.
Note the date of 1628 carved on a panel of the Pulpit. The sounding board was for many years stored in the vestry, but was replaced in 1907.

The Hour-Glass
The hour-glass near the pulpit is dated 1636 and is a rare example of hammered ironwork. It is decorated with oak leaves, acorns, a rising sun and Tudor dragons and features the arms of the Farriers’ Company of London.

St. Catherine’s Chapel
St Catherine’s chapel in the South East corner of the church was modernised in the 1960s to a design by architect P. N. Perkins and donated by Mrs. R. H. Muir. The altar is worked from a single block of Portland stone and is supported on concealed brackets with cross and candlesticks mounted on the wall, The altar rail is of beech wood with twisted and gilded metal supports.
The three figures in the window above the altar represent Faith, Hope and Charity. St. Catherine is in the centre with lady saints on either side.

Water de Annefordhe Brass
On the floor in the Choir is one of the oldest brasses in Berkshire. It is the half-length figure of a priest apparelled in an Amice, with Alb ornamented with Quatrefoils. It has an inscription in Norman French :- WATER DE ANNEFORDHE GIST ICY DIEU DE SA ALME EIT MERCY. Water was Rector of Binfield before 1361.

The Roof
Look out for two original octagonal chalkstone pillars and arches on the South side of the aisle. They help support the mid 14th century barrel-shaped timbered roof. It is believed that this roof could be attributed to Walter de Anneford and perhaps accounts for his honoured burial place beneath the floor of the chancel.

North Door
The hood moulding on the outside of the Victorian North door is terminated on either side by the heads of Bishop Wilberforce of Oxford and Queen Victoria.
The Bishop reopened the church on 12th December 1848, after considerable improvements were introduced under the direction of architect Benjamin Ferrey. The improvements included removing galleries, reseating the whole church and building a new North aisle.

A medallion on the South wall commemorates CATHERINE MACAULAY GRAHAM (1732-1792). An owl, the symbol of Athene, Goddess of wisdom, surmounts the portrait. She was a woman of strong opinion and an ardent republican, who often clashed with Dr. Johnson. She wrote an eight volume “History of England”, from the accession of James 1 to 1742. She married twice, the second time to a Surgeon’s mate in the Indian Navy. She visited George Washington in 1748 to see the new American Republic and wrote regularly to him until her death. His letters to her indicate the considerable esteem in which she was held. She died in Binfield aged 60

There is a memorial to HENRY DYSON GABELL (1764-1831) on the South wall. He was headmaster of Winchester and retired in 1824 when he came to his Rectory at Binfield to which he had been appointed in 1821.
On the North wall there is an outstanding memorial to LADY JUDITH, COUNTESS OF STERLINE, with a fine Achievement of Arms.
There are, of course, many other fine historic memorials in the church, including, on the West wall, one to ADMIRAL SIR WILLIAM HOTHAM who, as a Lieutenant of the Victory, served under Nelson.
The list of those from Binfield who served and fell in the two world wars and the Falklands conflict is inscribed in an oak tablet, with folding doors, on the West wall.

The Lighting.
In the 1960s new lighting was installed which is in keeping with the early Victorian chandeliers of St. Catherine’s Chapel. The hanging pendants of sheet iron are the work of Mr. John Hutchinson, who manufactured them entirely by hand in the workshop on the Allanbay Estate. They are a gift of Major John Wills.

Additional History

Can be found here: A British History Online