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'The little church in the fields' - St. Giles at Tattenhoe

Tattenhoe Church
Kick started by the rapid disappearance of once familiar countryside, it was due to the increasing developments of the New City that, many years ago, my interest in the local heritage first began. Thus before the natural environment succumbed to ‘progress,’ so commenced a mission to explore and document as much as possible, and with the area then predominantly rural, and, by association, somewhat inaccessible, a motorcycle proved to be the best mode of travel - quite apart from offering a nifty means of escape from irate farm dogs and - not infrequently - their owners. And so it was that by this means I first made the acquaintance of the ‘little church in the fields,’ St. Giles, at Tattenhoe, for the only access at that time was via a long and narrow farm track, of which a part has since become Hengistbury Lane. In fact Tattenhoe at the time of the Norman Conquest was not mentioned as a separate community, but nevertheless a fortification from where to oversee the vanquished locals was built, and the remains of the moat may still be seen. Farming long sustained the little hamlet, until during Tudor times the prevailing landowners redirected the acres to the more profitable pursuit of sheep grazing, and the resident families were curtly evicted. Following this drastic depopulation the hamlet fell into decline, but in 1540 the materials of the nearby Snelshall Priory were used in a rebuilding of the church. However, the lack of a numerous population made this rather pointless, and even a re-consecration in 1636 failed to promote a revival. Then in 1892 a restoration took place, but soon the church again descended into rural indifference, and, with only 12 inhabitants in the parish, in 1939 it was considered that ‘to render the building safe a considerable amount of structural work is necessary and it is estimated that the cost of this will be about £300.’ Fortunately salvation arrived with the coming of the New City, and, as a Grade 2 listed building, the church is now in regular use. As for the past remoteness, in fact it was this which long ago encouraged one of my all to infrequent romantic encounters, but, as subsequent events would prove, it soon transpired that, as with motorcycling, it’s best in such matters to travel light, unencumbered by any baggage!