Cholsey Church, Berkshire

Cholsey is a modest looking little church in the countryside of rural Berkshire, seemingly a bit forgotten. But it has a long and prestigious history. The church was founded as an Abbey by Ethelred the Unready around the year 986, some of the existing stonework exhibits indications of Saxon work so may date to soon after the foundation. It is considered to have been the last great Anglo-Saxon Abbey founded in England.

Rebuilding work was undertaken on the Church between 1150 and 1170 and it has remained essentially this building (on the outside at least) ever since. The east end was extended in the 13th Century, but otherwise the changes have been minor and gradual. Unusually it isn’t clear when the tower was added in its current form, but its base is largely Anglo-Saxon so the tower may be earlier than on most English churches.

All was left largely to its own devices until the Victorians arrived in 1847 and began to renovate, four new windows were added in the nave and in 1877 two lancet windows were added to the chancel replacing the four 13th Century ones that had survived that long. In the early 20th Century a new stained glass window was added at the west end of the nave.

All of this would have been familiar to the church’s most famous member, Agatha Christie, who died here and is buried with her second husband, Sir Max Mallowan, in the churchyard.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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