The Saxon Sanctuary Exhibition, designed by Blast Design of Birmingham, traces the story of a tiny Iron Age settlement through to the turn of the Third Millennium.
Underlined links on the Exhibition’s ten panels refer the visitor to a handbook for more information. The two examples below show how it works. Click on the text links to see how the handbook takes up the story.
The Britons and the Roman interlude
Who knows what kind of rituals went on on this hilltop 2,000 years ago? What is the mysterious tump in the churchyard? Who built the gigantic Puck’s Dyke? What was, and is, so special about this place?
The Romans boxed Arden in with three great trunk roads. A Roman ‘shortcut’ passes behind the church to cross the Alne and connect with an important military road on the other side of the river.
Later an Anglo-Saxon tribe turned the ancient network of farms round here into a territory called Stoppingas, which in turn was absorbed into the small kingdom of the Hwicce. With the rise of Mercia in the 7th century, the Hwicce lands became Mercia’s new Diocese of Worcester to which this church belonged for over a thousand years.
Wauneswotton: war and plague
In spite of the growth of Henley, St Peter’s was still the most important church around. At the churchyard cross Friars urged people to join the Crusades; here too the Bishop of Worcester came for his Warwick Visitation. The church was magnificently enlarged.
The monks were having a rough time. They were French, and for a hundred years England was at war with France. They lost their rights to the tithes, and the Priory sank into decline. In 1443 it was closed by Henry VI and the church and its estates were given to his new King’s College in Cambridge, which is still patron of the parish.
For the ordinary farming families of Wootton, life was hard. A domestic enclosure deep in Mayswood may have been a retreat from the Black Death, which killed the Prior and probably wiped out most of the village around 1350.