Knowlton Church and Earthworks
There has stood something on this land since neolithic times. The remains of a Norman church which was extensively remodelled during the 14th century sits amongst a pagan henge.
Reputed to be haunted by a variety of ghosts from weeping nuns to shadowy men in top hats, we visited this site on a somewhat bleak day. Adding to the overall sombre and esoteric atmosphere, the clouds heavy and grey overhead, the only thing which could have made it feel more arcane would have been a heavy fog, much like the film Woman in Black.
There is a large section of the church left, mostly walls, the roof disappeared a long time ago. The site is managed by English Heritage but there are no entrance fees to pay or queues to navigate, we had the site to ourselves. It is well managed and easy to navigate, obviously climbing amongst the henge is undulating but the church itself is surrounded by gravel, whilst it makes it pleasant to walk, I feel it detracts from the church itself which perhaps should sit more naturally in its environment.
The more modern additions can be seen in the flint and stone walls, most notable by the smoother finish of the stonework and more sophisticated construction techniques. The tower is a clear new addition and there is also a section of clay brickwork on one of the remaining arches, which is presumably an early 19th century repair.
The henge itself is a grassy mound which surrounds the church. It almost looks like a moat with the church sat in the centre. I haven’t done the research, but I would presume this is one of the only, if not THE only church which sits on a pagan site of this nature. It consists of a ring bank with two entrances and it is presumed that it was of ceremonial use.
We took our cat, who regularly comes on walks with us, and bizarrely when entering what was left of the church tower his hackles went up and his tail brushed. There was also a corner of this tower where he sat, almost contemplatively, and when we walked away from this corner he kept dragging us back…..take from that what you will.
It won’t take you long to visit, allow perhaps half an hour tops, there is nothing around its location bar a few houses and a farm so no coffees to be had, I suggest you bring your own.