Church of St. Nicholas
In this small village, in part of the most lovely countryside in the Vale of Aylesbury in the County of Buckingham, the Christian Faith and its Church have formed a major part of village life for at least 1,000 years. In the early 11th Century, the Manor was an estate of Queen Edyth, the wife of Edward the Confessor. It seems likely that by then there would already have been a flourishing community and church in Nether Winchendon.
Nether Winchendon today is still a tiny, unspoilt mediaeval village with only 57 households within the parish. There is no pub, no shop, no school and no village hall. The church is our only public building; we hold our Parish Meetings here, just as they did in the Middle Ages, so the church is, in a very real sense, the centre of the community. As a result, everybody in the village (not just those who go to church) is concerned to maintain and preserve this building, which is so much a part of our village life.
The Manor was acquired by Walter Gifford after the Norman Conquest and in 1162 one of his descendants gave Nether Winchendon as part of his endowment of Notley Abbey for Augustinian canons who had come from Arras. The church was reduced to a chapel of ease in 1182 and the Parish was administered as a grange or "farm" of the Abbey by monks and lay brethren.
In 1483, parochial status was restored and from then until now the succession of Vicars, noted beside the South door, has been continuous. During that time, the Parish has been variously connected with Chearsley, Cuddington and Long Crendon. It is now part of the United Benefice of Long Crendon with Chearsley and Nether Winchendon and is administered by one Vicar, living in the Vicarage at Long Crendon.
A service is held here every Sunday, being Holy Communion, Matins, Family Service and Evensong in turn. Times of the services are displayed on a notice in the Porch. In keeping with the traditional character of this church, the King James Bible is still used exclusively and all services are conducted using the Book of Common Prayer.
The Parish Church of St. Nicholas, Nether Winchendon
The present church dates from the early 13th Century although there are traces, notably in the rough hewn stones at the base of the Tower, of an earlier Saxon building. In early times, divine services were taken by monks of Notley Abbey; later on, Langlands Cottage in this village is supposed to have housed the Priest.
At the Dissolution, the church came under the care of Oxford Cathedral, which soon afterwards became the See of Oxford, although Buckinghamshire remained in the Diocese of Lincoln until 1845. Unlike many other churches, alterations to the interior did not occur after the early 17th Century and the Chancel and Nave have retained an uncluttered and beautifully simple appearance. Except for the tiled floor in the Chancel, the building has, to a great extent, been spared the enthusiasm of Victorian restorers and it retains a character and atmosphere that can have changed little since the late 18th Century. Indeed, if you stand on the Chancel steps and look West, you will be seeing what most English country churches must have looked like until around 1840.
Church of St. Nicholas continued...