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Wickham
St. Swithun's Church

Wickham has the only sizeable remains of an Anglo-Saxon Church in the county. Its sturdy pre-Conquest tower is worthy of close inspection. The Saxon builders have reused old Roman tiles and small Roman columns at the windows: evidence of the small Roman town or "vicus" which existed on the site and which is remembered today in the name of the village. The structure is generally thought to have been erected in its hilly location as a standalone look-out tower with associated beacon, though this would not have precluded it doubling as a church. The entrance at first floor level would have been reached by a ladder which could be drawn up in times of trouble. It may also have served as a balcony from which to display holy relics to the masses. Unfortunately the adjoining medieval nave and chancel were almost entirely rebuilt in 1845-9. They do, however, house a fascinating group of papier mache elephants decorating the beams of the north aisle's roof. Four were bought at the Paris Exhibition of 1845 and another four were later commissioned to join them.

Architecture: Anglo-Saxon flint tower adjoining a mostly Victorian Church.

 

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