It is some years since I started the occasional Sunday ‘Off to Church’ postings. When I started I made the point that it was not as a result of any religious commitment nor would I make any religious comment.
Churches, in the widest concept, includes Chapels, Abbey’s , Cathedrals, Places of Worship of any Faith….. have and are a part of our communities. All provide a light on our Historical Heritage. Building, culture and faith all in one location. These religious building, probably more than any other construction, provide a direct link back to our earliest recorded history, buildings that today are still used as they were many many centuries ago.
One such Church we visited many years ago, is the very tiny Church of Saint Boniface.
The Church is located on the Isle of Wight in the village of Bonchurch. There has been a settlement here almost since time began. Stone Age settlements and Roman occupation have been recorded. The Domes Day Book records the name of Bonercerce. It is in the 8th century that Saint Boniface arrives on the island. Saint Boniface built a strong following in the area and in the 9th century a wooden church was built. It is believed to be an older site of worship. This first church was dedicated to Boniface.
It is on this same site that in the 11th century a small stone church was built.
That church still exists and is used today…. a direct and continuous historical ink.
Over the centuries there have been some modifications. A Bell Cote with Bell were added in the 16th century. Then in the 19th century a Porch Doorway was added.
What hasn’t changed is that services and weddings can be held by candle light as no electricity has been added. Yes, the Church is still in use today.
The Church is also referred to in Bonchurch as ” Old Saint Boniface Church”. That definition is important. As the population and importance of Bonchurch grew and NEW Saint Boniface Church was built and opened in 1848. There followed some talk of demolishing the Old Saint Boniface, thankfully common sense prevailed. Special occasional services, including weddings, continue the link between Saint Boniface’s and the community.
To stand in this nave and look around, you stand in history. You stand in the shadows of so many that have come before you, to stand in this very spot. It may well be small by comparison to say a Cathedral, but it is equally as inspiring and full of a special aura.
If you ever visit the Isle of Wight, and amongst all the island treasures and beauty spots, do find time to head to Bonchurch. Find the narrow wooded lane that leads down the hillside and discover this little gem of history.
Maybe, no matter if you are religious or not, spare some time to evaluate the times we currently live in today…
Please Remember ….
Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other
(C) David Oakes 2020