Witley has always just been a station I pass through each day on the way to and from work. Searching for the council tip, we drove through Witley and decided to collect the church.
Doomsday Book records that a church stood in Witlei in 1086 and was held by Earl Godwin who just happened to be the father of King Harold. From this time until the 16th century, the manor of Witley was generally passed around to royal favourites. But then, in 1599 Queen Elizabeth I sold it all for £1,613.15s.11½d. From this time on the manor was owned by common folk.
The Norman church originally consisted of a nave and chancel only with some fine herringbone masonary which could show an Anglo Saxon date but not conclusively as anyone could have done it during some AS revivalist period! There have been changes to the church building right up to 1889. An odd addition which I think was added in Victorian times, is the round turret tacked onto the side of the church.
Inside was very gloomy but it was a grey old day. There are some lovely stained glass windows including a pair depicting saints Agnes and Catherine (she of the wheel, methinks).
There's a very old font which dates to the first half of the 13th century. But the biggest surprise is the wall paintings. We didn't notice them up close but suddenly mirinda turned around and pointed them out. The Courtauld has dated them to around 1100 and they have been described as 'the most important surviving Romanesque wall paintings in the south of England.' They are a lot easier to see in the photo I took - see below.
The churchyard is very big and rambling. There's lots of tabletop tombs as well as many modern monuments. There's also a very pathetic yew tree which was planted at the millennium but has only managed to grow a couple of inches.
Next to the church, built onto the church steps in fact, is Church Steps Cottage looking all cute and Tudor.
main church page