Local History Society

 Local History Recording Scheme: Ref. A6-4



This is the fourth article for Arborfield in the Berkshire Local History Recording Scheme, reference A6-4:

'Old & New Churches'

The ruin of the Old Church is situated next to Arborfield Hall, on the site of the original Saxon Church, or Chapel, of Eburgfield.

A Church built of chalk and flint with a wooden spire was erected before, or in the year, 1236. It consisted of a Chancel and Nave and there was a transept on the North side.

In 1863 a faculty was obtained for the demolition of the Church on the score that the roof was in a dangerous condition and the Church was too small for the congregation. This faculty authorised the removal of monuments and memorial tablets to the New Church.

Faculties were also granted for the conversion of the North aisle of the Church into two Mortuary Chapels by Thomas Hargreaves, Esq., of Arborfield Hall, and Sir John Conroy, of Arborfield Grange.

In 1869 these Chapels were erected, the one to the East becoming the Hargreaves and that on the West the Conroy Mortuary Chapels.

A marble tablet to Edward Standen and his wife and an alabaster and marble monument to William Standen, his wife and child were removed into the East Chapel and remained there until December, 1938, when they were transferred to the New Church.

Memorial Tablets to Pelsant Reeves at one time owner of Arborfield Hall and to other members of that family were removed to the New Church at some date before 1900 and tablets bearing the inscriptions on those memorials were placed in the Hargreaves Chapel.

Tablets to the memory of three members of the Hargreaves family and to two of the Washington Jackson family were erected in the same Chapel by Mrs. Thomas Hargreaves, nee Jackson, and also in the New Church.

In the Conroy Chapel there are five marble memorial tablets to members of the Conroy family and one to Thomas Mahon, a godson of Sir John Conroy.

The inscriptions on these memorials are included in the list of memorial inscriptions in the Old Church and Churchyard deposited at the Reading Reference Library.

When the Standen memorials were transferred to the New Church in December 1938 January 1939, to make room for them three pews were removed from the West end of the Nave on the North side. The monument was re-erected on new paving of Excelsior Patent Stone Paving.

When in its original position and also when in the Hargreaves Chapel, the William Standen memorial had been built with its North and East sides adjoining walls. This is shown by the unfinished condition of the left side of the effigy of the lady and the back of the child. When the memorial was re-erected in the New Church the lower parts of the North and East sides of the memorial were reconstructed of new materials and the effigy of the child was placed facing East instead of West as it had faced originally.

The dismantling and re-erection of the memorials was carried out by Mr. A. F. Jones, Mason, of Reading, under the supervision of Mr. C. Birdwood Willcocks, F.S.A., F.R.I.B.A, Architect, of Reading.

At the same time as the memorials were moved, the wooden font from the Hargreaves' Chapel was also taken to the New Church.

With regard to the windows in the New Church on the South side of the Nave. The plain glass in the third window has been replaced by a window representing the marriage feast at Cana. On the lower part are the words, "Draw out now and bear to the governor of the feast" and beneath:-

"To the beloved memory of William Vincent Died July 15, 1904 and Sarah Jane, his wife, who died Dec. 7, 1916".

The West window is a single lancet and was specially made to receive part of the glass from the East window of the Old Church. It represents the head of Aaron. The glass was painted by John Rowell of Reading.

Of this window as it figured in the Old Church, the Rev. Charles Coates, LL.B., writes in his History and Antiquities of Reading, 1802:-

'In the Church at Arborfield in Berks. is a window over the Altar of two compartments in which are represented in half length the figures of Moses and Aaron by Rowell, holding the Tablets of the Law. The colours of the drapery are crimson, blue and purple, all very rich; the breastplate of Aaron is remarkably brilliant'.

This window was given by the Rev. John Waterman, M.A., in 1744. He was Rector from 1739 to 1755.

Name and address of recorder: J. A. Anderson, Rector of Arborfield
Date event recorded: 4th March 1940.

With acknowledgements to Reading Local Studies Library

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