The Black Death
Perhaps as many as a third of the population of the country are thought to have died as a result of the Bubonic Plague after its first deadly outbreak in 1348-50. We know it visited Wootton because the Prior, Michael de la Bouche, died of it in 1350. Spread by fleas living on the black rat and by contagion, death came quickly but with horrendous symptoms. Thereafter the disease became endemic in the villages of England until well into the 17th Century. The "Plague Months" of June and July were notorious for their periodic outbreaks. The Parish registers of Wootton in the 1500s tell a sorry tale in some years. But the community survived. Widows remarried, the next generations arrived. Some arable land may have been allowed to revert to woodland - the woods around are full of old ridge and furrow ploughlands. But no tenements in Wootton appear to have been permanently deserted. Wootton held its shape with St Peterís at its heart, unlike so many villages of the English countryside, resited far from their parish church.