Christ Church, Ramsdell
The Ramsdell area was settled by the time the
Romans built the Portway from Silchester to Bath, crossing the present parish
near its northern boundary. In Norman times, there was a dwelling with a bailey
at Woodgarston. However, it was not until 1867 that Ramsdell or Ramsdale became
a separate parish with its own church.
|The Clock tower
||The gate to the church
of the church
The parish includes West Heath and Charter
Alley, and it extends to the Basingstoke to Newbury road in the south-west Most
of this area was detached from the parish of Wootton St Lawrence, but parts came
from Monk Sherborne and Tadley. Both spellings, Ramsdale and Ramsdell, appear to
have been in use in Victorian times, but the parish was named Ramsdale until it
was officially changed in the 1970s, long after rise more familiar spelling bad
become generally accepted.
The credit for raising the £1,100 needed to build the church belongs to the Revd
Walter Bigg Wither, then Rector of Wootton. A wooden tablet in the north-west
comer of the church records a donation of £35 from the Incorporated Church
Building Society, subject to the condition that "all sittings were to be free
unappropriated". This recalls the tradition of family pews for which
rents were paid, a practice which, by this time, was felt to be divisive.
The church was built of local materialsóbrick, flint and tile. In those days,
and indeed until 1979, there was a brickworks just along Monk Sherborne Road
where the Ecophon budding now stands. A list of the vicars, of whom the first
was Revd Joseph Fuller, hangs in the porch. The vicarage, facing the church
across Baughurst Road, was built in 1869. Mr Fuller had a curate, as well
as thirty acres of glebe land. Further building work was undertaken in 1876,
when the tower at the north-west corner of the church was added. It contains the
bell, shaped like an inverted cup, and the turret clock, with its eight-day
movement supplied by Willis of Basingstoke.
One of the first features striking the visitor on entering is the decoration on
the roof beams, which, according to local tradition, is the work of Mr Puller's
daughters. The Puller family, who came from Speen, now part of Newbury, are
commemorated in. several of the windows, in particular the east window dating
from 1906. The war memorial in the north nave, erected in 1922 and
consisting of a window and two plaques, is the work of William Glasby, one of
the most noted craftsmen of the time. The window, signed in the lower right-hand
comer, shows the influence of Burne-Jones and Glasby's early commissions for
Morris & Co. For the plaques, naming twelve parishioners who died in the First
World War, he used a technique called epus sectile, known from Roman times and
used in the thirteenth-century pavement by the high altar in Westminster Abbey.
The letters are cut in stone, filled with a paste of ground marble, then
polished. There is no memorial for the Second World War, the one
parishioner who died being commemorated at Monk Sherbome. Before mains
electricity came to the village in 1952, the church was lit by oil lamps and
candles, and marks left by soot can still be seen in some places. A new and
greatly improved scheme of lighting was installed in 2000.
Also in 2000, a time capsule containing everyday objects of the day was buried
under the nave and marked by a stone tablet. The silver can only be seen during
services. The communion plate is of the same age as the church, and the cross
and candlesticks were given to commemorate the parish centenary in 1967.
The organ was pumped by hand until an electric blower was installed in 1962. The
pump, which still works, can be seen by the vestry door. The organ was
completely dismantled and refurbished in 1995.
The churchyard, dominated by a venerable cedar, contains the graves of many
parishioners and some parish clergy. It is still used for burials. It is
maintained with an eye to keeping the memorials tidy while retaining a haven for
wildlife. With this in mind a programme of tree planting was initiated in 1979.
The benefice was merged with Baughurst in 1953, and since 1980 it has been part
of a larger benefice including the parishes of Wolverton and Hannington.