In March 2015, the Medieval Studies Forum of the Surrey Archaeological Society held a study day of two halves: one part dedicated to moated sites, the other to church sites. I prepared a paper discussing the siting of Puttenham church and what various forms of evidence might have to say about the date and context of its foundation. Unfortunately, it ended up that I couldn’t make it to the meeting to present the paper – I’m very grateful to Brian Creese for agreeing to read it out on my behalf. The script has lain around ever since (if .doc files languish thus), complete but lacking references. Until SMPCW, that is!
The church has a locally-prominent position that I’ve really come to appreciate while walking down the village street in recent years, and I’m a particular fan of how this is evoked (perhaps with a dab of artistic licence) in the above illustration, drawn at least 105 years ago, accompanying Puttenham’s entry in the Victoria County History. Churches in elevated sites are not-infrequently read as early foundations, perhaps successors to “pagan” religious structures, although even at some of the most credible suggested examples the circumstances are often more complicated than they appear at first (see my work on Thursley and St Martha’s). But how credible are these conjectures when other types of evidence are brought into play?
This post recycles the paper script and a number of photos of the church in the landscape taken last year, mixes them with other pieces of research, and bakes into the form you’ll find by clicking on the link below. If this exercise (and my research for SMPCW more generally) taught me anything, it’s that answers to church-related questions are only likely to be found by considering non-ecclesiastical evidence. It’s what has kept me going with this series of posts. One more to go, we’re in the home straight now!