St Edmund's Church
The Parish Church of St Edmunds is dedicated to Edmund, King of East Anglia. In A.D. 869, the Danes under Ivar came back into East Anglia and set up base at Thetford. In A.D. 870 they invaded his kingdom, and despite Edmund's gallant attempts to protect it, he was outnumbered and captured, at Hoxne in Suffolk. The Danes had been impressed by his courage and offered him his kingdom and his life if he would rule East Anglia as sub-King under them, and not Wessex. He was also asked to worship Odin, and not Christ.
Edmund refused to do this and being beaten, whipped and tied to a tree, his body was riddled by arrows before being beheaded. His death being reported as 20 November 870. After originally being buried at Hoxne the site of his martyrdom, the body was later enshrined in a monastery at nearby Beodericsworth, later to become known as Bury St. Edmunds in the 10th century.
The church at Wootton was built on the site of an earlier Saxon church as mentioned in the Domesday Book, 1086 as Odetone (the estate within the woodland clearing). Immediately before the Norman Invasion the Manor was owned by Queen Edith, wife of Edward the Confessor. Following the Norman Conquest one Walter de Insula (the family later being known as de Lisle) was given lands at Wootton, the Chapel to the Manor House dated from 1087 it being built in the 1st year of William II, belonging to the parish of Whippinghame.
Built as a private chapel for the nearby manor house. (Now Wootton Manor Farm). The building consists of a nave and chancel. The nave is plain to severity but the chancel is bright with colour. The south entry door is a fine example of Norman architecture, with chevron and billet moulding ornamenting the arch, with a pillar on each side. The door leads into the Norman nave.
During the reign of Henry III the chancel was extended and four early English lancet windows constructed. A large east window rather later. During Edward I a small chantry chapel was added to the north side (organ and vestry at present) by de Insula.
Recorded in the Calendar of Church Rolls for the year 1378 during the time of Richard II is in part the following statement: -"It is found by inquisition that the towns of Wippyngham, Wodyton,..utterly burnt and destroyed by the enemy and by their destruction and damage the inhabitants were so impoverished that they might not pay the money falling upon them not might the collectors levy the same". There was no village of Wootton then as there is now; the "town" consisted of the Church, the adjoining Manor, and half-a-dozen nearby houses.
On 13 June 1808, the new patron, he 24 year-old Richard Walton White, presented himself to the living, a practice now illegal. He was the son of John White, armiger of Whippingham, and now was named after his godfather, Richard Walton. He was Rector of Wootton for 47 years. He married Mary, only surviving daughter and heiress of John Popham, F.S.A., of Shanklin and Kite Hill. The marriage took place at Binstead 19 November 1812, the year of Napoleon's fateful retreat from Moscow. He had three daughters, Mary, Grace and Katherine, and one son, Francis, who alone outlived his father. The son took the name Popham in 1852 under his grandfather's will, and so the family name came to be White-Popham.
The Rector lived in the old Rectory, now known as Wootton Lodge, at the corner of Church Road and High Street. The land belonging to this Rectory was extensive, stretching down what is now the High Street, then a leafy avenue of trees and along both sides of Church Road. When the Rector died, his son, now, Francis White-Popham, became the patron, but did not wish to vacate the Rectory. Consequently, when he offered the living to the Rev. Robert Hilton Scott, he did so on condition that the new Rector should live in a new house to be built on a part of the estate. This was agreed, and the present Rectory was built in Church Road in 1856, which has since been demolished and a new rectory built in a different location. The patron, Mr. White-Popham, afterwards moved to Shanklin, where he died in 1894.
The four lancet windows in the church were installed as a memorial to Mrs F. L. Makant of Wootton Lodge in 1894.
More information about the Church can be found in "The Story of Wootton Church" by the Rector, Rev. A. H. Genower, B.A. (now out of print) also in Church and Parish by Doreen Gazey, for the St Edmund's Church Building Trust.
Drawings of the Church by Elizabeth Tucker
"These two pictures of mine are on long term loan to St Edmunds Church and hang beside Doreen Gazey's framed poem on a side wall of the church. There are also cards for sale at the church."This page was last edited on: 26th January, 2022 17:50:48