Winterbourne Bassett

Winterbourne Bassett is a small village in the northern end of the Benefice and nestles at the foot of the Marlborough Downs.  It derives its name from the watercourses that run through the village in winter. The village comprises approximately 60 homes, including outlying farms with cottages and has a population of approximately 180.



Mr Peter Barry, The Old Coffee House, Broad Hinton, SN4 9PQ. Tel 01973 731589. 

Mrs Glynis Long, 22 Winterbourne Bassett, SN4 9QB.  Tel 01793 731398. Email:


Mrs Stephanie Witt,  The Grove, Winterbourne Bassett, SN4 9QB. Tel 01973 731063. Email:


Mr Martin Knight, The Manor, Winterbourne Bassett, SN4 9PU. Tel 01793 731764. Email:


Regular services are held in the church as follows:

First Sunday of the month: Holy Communion 11.15am.

Fourth Sunday of the month:: Morning Prayer 11.15am

On the third Sunday of the month a Benefice Communion Service is held at 10.30am in one of the Benefice churches on a rotational basis.

Future Special Services/Events

Thursday 21 December 2017 at 7.30pm Carols by Candlelight

Sunday 24 December 2017 at 3.00pm Crib Service

Monday 25 December 2017 at 11.15am Christmas Day Morning Prayer



Winterbourne Bassett was given by King Edgar ΄the peaceful΄ 943 -975 and grandson of King Alfred of the cakes, to his ΄faithful minister΄ Eadric, and the bounds of the parish as set out in a charter of 922 remain much the same today. It was in two parts from about A.D. 1000 and in the Doomesday Book the two holders are listed as the Prior of Amesbury, the southern part now Rabson , and Humphrey de Insula (de Lisle) the northern and bigger part.  Humphrey married his daughter Adeliza to Reginald Dunstanville and Winterbourne Bassett became the property of the Dunstanville family of Castle Coombe, and it remained part of the barony of Castle Coombe until the 16th Century or later. It was during Reginald’s tenure that the first church on this site was built on the remains of an even earlier place of worship. 

Alan Bassett, a nephew of the Dunstanville’s, whose family name was given to the village, was granted the Manor of Winterbourne Bassett in 1194 and, through his granddaughter Aline, it passed into the Despenser family at her marriage to Hugh le Despenser, Justiciar of England and Constable of the Tower of London. After the execution in 1326 of their son, Hugh Despenser  Earl of  Winchester, the Manor of Winterbourne Bassett was granted to Queen Isabella, wife of Edward III for life. After her death, King Edward gave it to his son Edward Duke of York, who was killed at Agincourt, and after him it was inherited by his son, Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, and remained in Yorkist hands until, as part of the dowry of Elizabeth of York, it came into the possession of the crown when she married King Henry VII.  It then became part of the jointure of the Queen Consort and as such was held by Queens Katherine of Aragon, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleeves, and Catherine Howard. 

After Catherine’s death it was acquired by William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke and then sold to the Baskerville family in 1614, whose memorials are in the chapel north of the nave and whose graves are in the churchyard. In 1754 it came into the possession of Henry Fox, Baron Holland, father of Charles James Fox, and remained in Holland hands until 1859. This was the family who owned what is now Holland Park in London, and why there is a Fox Row in the village. 

The church belonged to Lewes Priory from 1121 until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1556 when the patronage was given to William Herbert Earl of Pembroke. In 1714 it was given to Magdalene College Oxford until it became part of the Upper Kennet Team Ministry in 1975. On the wall to the left of the church door you will see a list of the Rectors of the church starting in 1328. The earliest recorded was Fulke Bassett , son of Alan Bassett, who had the living in 1221, and went on to become Bishop of London in 1241. 

The Church Registers begin in 1681 for baptisms, although they are incomplete till 1722, those for burials in 1724, and marriages in 1727.

The church was dedicated to St Catherine in the 16th Century. In 1848 it was known as St Peter’s, but since 1904 it has been known as the Church of St Katherine and St Peter.


John Betjeman called this church an ΄architectural gem΄ mostly of purest ΄Decorated΄, a style which is derived from the type of window tracery used during this period.  However there is some doubt about which is the oldest part of the Church, the chancel or the north chapel. The nave is almost certainly 14th century. The walls of the Church are built of roughly broken sarcen stones of which there are plenty in the Winterbourne Bassett area. The stones of the north transept appear to be more roughly dressed than those of the rest of the building especially on the East wall, which indicates that this forms part of the original building. The rare ΄Decorated΄ period, associated with the time of the first three Edwards 1272 – 1377, and which is a feature of this building, corresponds with the tenure of the Manor of Hugh le Despenser and the work began with the erection of the north aisle, the north transept and the nave arcade. The north transept was possibly the family chapel of the Despensers. 

It has had two major restorations ion 1610 and in 1857 and is about to undergo another. The 1857 restoration cost £1,000,  half of which was donated by the then Rector, Rev. W.F.Harrison, who died when he fell off his horse on the road to Broad Hinton. A stone on the roadside now marks the spot, and his is the railed tomb in the churchyard by the path to the Rectory.


There is no structural work in the nave before the 14th century and there are many alterations in the south wall. The part to the east of the porch, which is without a plinth, is probably earlier than the rest, though the window here is of a later ΄debased΄ type. 

The large window to the west of the porch is a fine example of mid 15th century workmanship. This part of the wall, faced with freestone and with a plinth, has been rebuilt at some time which would explain the variations in the windows. 

The Perpendicular south door has a four-centred arch and two small arches over the door with the date 1611 and the initials GA, which could possibly refer to the building of the porch.

The north aisle presents an arcade of three pointed arches without capitals, and a small pointed Perpendicular window, and the very fine north door, which is better appreciated from the outside. 

It consists of a four centred arch with carved ball flowers set in four leaves and an intricate and unique arrangement of five leaves in the fleuron in the apex of the arch. There are marks of crosses scratched on the door arch, possibly witches marks made to keep the witches from stealing the holy water to use in spells or keep out evil in times of plague, or even the devil himself who was thought to live on the north side of a church. This door was sealed up in the second restoration of the church in 1857 but subsequently reopened.

The pews in the nave and the north aisle to the left hand side of the south door are Jacobean. 

On the West wall at the back of the church is an interesting ΄Table of Kindred and Affinity΄, telling who we cannot marry, and on the North wall nearby is ΄The Millennium Scroll΄ recording the inhabitants of the village of Winterbourne Bassett on the 31st December 1999.


The Tower is Perpendicular (a period of English Gothic c .1335-1530) and dates from 1450 and may have replaced a slighter one. It is built of Corallian limestone and is the only exception to the use of sarcens. It is believed to have been built by Richard Beauchamp, Bishop of Salisbury 1450-1481, and is a splendid example of the 15th century Wiltshire style. It is four stages in height and is situated upon an unusually deep base. 



In the tower are three bells and the earliest reference to them comes in 1552 but they were replaced shortly after. The replacements were cast by John Wallis of Salisbury and had the following inscriptions - IW 1583

THR 1581 and ΄Feare the Lorde΄ IW 1609. Two of the bells were recast again and have dates of 1857 and 1883, but the oldest, the treble, remains and would have been rung in 1588 to warn the villagers of the coming of the Armada.


 The Early English font (period of English Gothic  1190-1250) dates back to the early 13th century and was moved in the restoration of 1857 from its original position opposite the south door.

It is a circular drum with decorations of large foliage round the upper section, and stiff leaf sprays with smaller single upright leaves between. The  wooden top is 17th century.


Its origins are in the 13th century but it was restored in 1610 when the roof was lowered, cutting off the tops of the windows. The restoration of 1857 put it back to its original height, and the side windows had their tops once again. Some fragments of glass from the 14th and 15th  centuries  remain in the head of the north- west window. The east window is believed to have been inserted during this restoration, and is an excellent example of the Decorated style. The glass, however, dates from 1926.

To the right of the altar is a small piscina with an ogee arch and fine tracery. On the outside of this wall can be seen four old and most probably late medieval sundials, scratched onto stones, one of which can be seen on the right side of the small south door, and another bigger one on a high corner stone.

The altar rails were made from the tops of the high Jacobean pews now at the back of the church during the restoration of 1857.

The rib of the arch from the nave ends in two stone carved heads representing St Catherine and St Peter, and fine examples of early so called ΄soft΄ Perpendicular carving.

The oak pulpit dates back to the 17th century and has fielded panelling and a frieze of an Anglo-Italian Renaissance style. The lectern has similar characteristics.

On the walls are plaques to the memory of members of the Tuckey and Budd families of the Manor.


This is the oldest part of the church and probably part of a small original church. The three–light window has mouldings which are formed both inside and out, and are of an unusual degree of elegance. Under this window is a low broad ogee arch with carrying stands for candles, figures and a crucifix. This is an Easter Sepulchre and was traditionally used in medieval times to put the consecrated host upon for devotions during Holy Week.

Beneath the arch is the oldest monument on the church, a tomb lid on which two figures are carved, a bearded man and a woman, the woman is clasping the hand of her partner with her right hand which is indicative of an heiress in her own right. 

John Aubrey, writing before 1670 describes this as ΄an old niche, within which on a stone is the lineary figure of a man and his wife, of whose name there is no tradicion.΄ There is a note in the burial register dated 11th May 1842 in which it says a stone coffin was discovered ΄with two figures carved on the lid supposed to be the founder and his was found to contain one skull and the bones of more than one body. It had been opened before and the lid was broken and otherwise mutilated.΄ For a long time it was thought to be the tomb of Hugh le Despencer, the last judiciary and his wife Aliva, daughter and heiress of Sir Phillip Bassett of Wycombe.  However Hugh was killed in 1265 at the battle of Evesham by Roger Mortimer while fighting for Simon de Montfort and buried in Evesham Abbey. Therefore it is a possibility that it could be the tomb of  Adeliza de  Insula (de Lisle), daughter and heiress of Humphrey de Insula, and her husband, Reginald  Dunstanville, the founder of the first church at Winterbourne Bassett, and that the note in the burial register of 1842 is right. They both died around 1130 and the clothes of the figures on the tomb would fit in with these dates.

There are also two 18th century wall monuments. One is to Mary Baskerville of Richardson, who died in 1724. She was the wife of Thomas Baskerville (died 1717 ) whose tomb is below. She was the mother of twelve sons, all named on the tombstone. Another is to Margaret Baskerville, daughter of John Glanville of Broad Hinton, who died in 1696. The Baskervilles hailed from the Welsh borders and came to these parts when Simon Baskerville whose recorded monument can no longer be found, married the widow of William Hutchins of Richardson in the mid 16th century. Richardson no longer exists as a village having been wiped out in the Black Death plague. There are two Baskerville hatchments high on the west wall. The one on the right belongs to Thomas Baskerville who died in 1817, with the coats of arms of his first two wives, Anne O’Neill (showing the red hand of Ulster) and Jane Bishop, both having pre-deceased him. He died without children, so his heir was his cousin, another Thomas Baskerville, whose wife’s hatchment is next to his. This Thomas was born in 1790 and he married Anne Hancock in 1818. This hatchment was painted in 1832 when she died and would have been displayed over the front door of her house for 12 months before being put into the church. The dexter half (left side to the observer) has a white background indicating that the husband has survived: the sinister half (right side to the observer) has a black background indicating that the wife has died. The twenty four quarterings are those of her husband and the ‘escutcheon of pretence’ in the centre shows her own paternal arms. She also died childless. 


Recent drainage works in the churchyard have revealed a small medieval pit located under the north wall of the chancel from which fragments of pottery from the 11th and 12th centuries have been taken and which suggest it predates the construction of the chancel in the mid thirteen century and confirms an earlier church building on this site. 

In the churchyard are two tombs belonging to the Budd family, Commander Henry Hayward Budd, 1784-1859, and his brother Commander Hopewell Hayward Budd, 1780-1869. Hopewell Budd married Sophia, daughter of John and Elizabeth Tuckey of the Manor.

There are wall plaques in memory of three of their children on the walls of the chancel; in total they had twelve. Both Budd brothers had distinguished naval careers, and when Hopewell was invalided out of the navy he took over the running of the Manor farm from his father-in-law.  He became a progressive agriculturalist, introducing the Swedish turnip and the use of machinery. He took an active part in the machinery riots of 1830, single-handedly confronting and turning away labourers who were intent on destroying his farm machines. 

Though the churchyard appears to be empty, during the period from 1606 - 2010 there were 990 people buried there. 486 between 1606 -1836, 471 between 1836–1980,  and 33 between 1980 –2010. Around 1912 the graveyard was extended from the small bank to the iron railings. During 1963 the graveyard was cleared of tombstones and some ancient yews cut down. Some of the tombstones were used as paving stones in the churchyard and elsewhere. In 1995 a new car park was created to the west of the church to ease the pressure on the original car park in Church Way on the eastern approach.