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Places associated with the Building of Shottesbrooke Church
by David Nash Ford

SHOTTESBROOKE
CHURCH
Places to Go

Shottesbrooke is a tiny place off the B3024 between Waltham St. Lawrence and White Waltham. The village has disappeared, and all that remains is a farm and the church and hall. The two latter stand together in the middle of Shottesbrooke Park. It is easy to get a view of the house from the churchyard or footpath, but the present building was built some two hundred years after William Trussell's death, with heavy restoration in the 18th century. The Collegiate Church of St. John is quite beautiful, and you can easily see why it has been described as the "perfect English church". Its compact nave and huge chancel where the priests sat give away its collegiate function. The foundation's domestic buildings (dissolved in 1547) stood to the south, and you can still see the doorway into the south transept which the priests used to enter the church. Unfortunately the building has to be kept locked, but details of where to obtain the key are given in the porch. William and Isabelle's fine twin altar-tomb monuments can be found in the north transept, sumptuously carved from chalk and stone.

The "O.O." graveslab in the churchyard can be easily identified on the right hand side of the path, near the south transept. It looks like the oldest stone in the graveyard which, of course, it would be if we believe the legend. However, it is crumbling and moss-covered and broken in two, so you'll be lucky to read an inscription on it. I couldn't.

The story of Shottesbrooke Church is related, most eloquently, in an old ballad written by one "Peter Brown". Snippets of it are often included in books on the area, but the full length version is very hard to find. Britannia is, therefore, very pleased to be able to reproduce it for our readers.

I will end with a thought from the ballad:

Dicken Smith's fate has an excellent moral
For folks that drink beer from the pot or the barrel.
Never stand at your tipple, nor vapour, not swagger.
Never drink out o'doors, or perhaps you may stagger.
At home or abroad, drink within doors and sitting,
And you'll carry your liquor discreetly and fitting.
Above all, this advice, I would give all good people:
Never drink beer on the top of a steeple.

The Story
Folklore or Fact?


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