The Parish Church of Wymsey, in the diocese of Watchester, was dedicated in 1098 to the Norman saint Duveticus whose emblem had been a white duck (note the avian gargoyles on the tower). The original Saxon church had been, except for it's stone foundations, substantially of wooden construction and was raised to the ground by fire in 1089. It had been dedicated to St. Englebert whose origins lie in Norse paganism and, it is believed, derive from Engelthart a minor wind god.
Traces of the original Saxon ground plan can be seen in the off centre floor plan of the nave, this is assumed to be due to the poverty of the parish at this time. The Domesday Book refers to 'Wymseaton' as consisting of 6 freemen and 20 serfs and that the church was under the 'gifte' of the ' Abbote of Wartchester' and that of the 6 freemen 4 were husbandmen and 2 were ale brewsters.
The church and village prospered with the strengthening of England and survived the Civil War unscathed except for a few grains of musket shot which to this day are embedded in the church door.
In the mid nineteenth century Wymsey was renowned for it's church band but by the latter quarter of that century moves were afoot to replace the band with an organ. (For a real sense of the importance of the church band we recommend the novels of Mr. Thomas Hardy.) Eventually, Wymsey was one of the first English parish churches to have a Willis organ and today the church is sort out by organ enthusiasts from all over the world.
Today the Parish of Wymsey, having experienced shrinkage with the Industrial Revolution and continuing movement away from rural existence that lasted well in to the 1970's, is seeing an influx of retirees and middle class second homers who seem to have little need for any comfort that the church might have to offer. All over England rural parishes are being combined. It remains to be seen how long the Parish of Wymsey will be able to support it's own Vicar. The current Bishop of Watchester, the Right Reverend Charles Burnt-Umber - an able church politician - has a right wing, free market, view of church business but with a village like Wymsey you just can't be sure.
© charles ivermee, 1998 - 2006