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All Saints Aston Upthorpe

The Astons Church of England Parish, Aston Tirrold with Aston Upshorpe is part of the Churn Benefice. The Churn Benefice site gives contact details for the Rector and the Benefice Office.

Church of England Church Services are normally Parish Eucharist at 9am every Sunday in St Michael's Aston Tirrold, except on the last Sunday of the month when there is a Family Service in St Michael's Aston Tirrold. Evensong is held at All Saints, Aston Upthorpe at 6pm on the second Sunday of the month. Timings may differ for Church Festivals. The times of services for the next week are displayed on notice boards outside the churches. See Services within the Churn Benefice> for the next week for all services within the Churn Benefice.

The Church is mentioned as a Chapel-of-ease to Blewbury in 1227. In 1862 a separate parish of Upton and Aston Upthorpe was formed. Only in 1924 was the Church linked with St Michael's in Aston Tirrold. The Nave may date from the llth century. There is a Norman window in the north wall, and both the north and south doorways are Norman in shape, though the first is restored and the second filled up and plastered over. They could be pre-conquest, though the plain early style probably continued until 1080 or so.

If the church is Saxon and stands, as may be the case, on the site of an earlier church, and if the battle of Assendune (Ashdown) 871 was fought in this neighbourhood as some contend, this could be the place where King Ethelred, King of Wessex, prayed before the battle. Ethelred was elder brother to King Alfred who succeeded him when he died later that year.

Saxon or not, it is an attractive little church. As well as the Norman features already mentioned, it has a 14th century roof, a 15th century west window, and a wooden north porch probably dating from the early 17th century. Inside, on the north and south doorways, are medieval (perhaps 13th century) corbel heads of a king and bishop, 15th century bench ends and two lengths of traceried panelling have been retained in the modem pews.

During redecoration in 1992, traces of wall painting were discovered on the south wall between the window and the blocked doorway. Examination and conservation the following year revealed several layers of work, the oldest (early 14th century) being St Christopher holding the Christ Child on his left shoulder (top right-hand comer). After the reformation, this patch of wall was painted and over-painted with texts, the latest being the Creed, with a heavy black border, probably of 1860 when a new chancel was built to the design of P.C. Hardwick. The pretty bell turret is presumably of the same date.

There are two bells, the treble an early product of the Wokingham Foundry, and the tenor made by Joseph Carter of Reading in 1585.

The monuments are mostly to the Slade family who, for many years, lived at Thorpe Farm, immediately west of the church.

The kneelers at the Communion Rail are beautifully worked with pictures of the wild flowers of the Downs; this theme is echoed in many of the kneelers throughout the church worked by Church members and friends, with expenses covered out of a bequest from the late Miss Barbara Engledue.

The wooden figure of the Madonna and two children in the alcove formed by the blocked south doorway is by Judy Massingham.

There is a pleasant little window in the south wall of the Sanctuary portraying St Birinus, Apostle of Wessex, who is said to have preached on the Downs in the 7th century.

For further details of the History of St Micheal's see British History on Line, The Victoria History of Britain, Blewbury with Upton and Aston Upthorpe. Scroll down the Section on Churches to All Saints.