Possibly built by Thomas de Shocklach, whose castle was no more than half a mile away, St Edith’s has had many alterations over 800 years, although remaining much as George Haswell and Anthony Suffill saw it. It is now a Grade I listed building; the ancient cross by the Norman doorway is Grade II and the churchyard and hay meadows belonging to the church are, together, a Site of Biological Importance. The oldest part of the church, the nave, dates from about 1150, although the original foundations may be considerably older. St Edith, the patron saint, is commonly said to have been the daughter of Alfred the Great; recent research places her as Eadgyþ*, Abbess of Wilton, daughter of King Eadgar I. To dedicate a church to an Anglo-Saxon after the Norman Conquest would be unusual and suggests that the church was already in existence in 1066 (having been built shortly after Eadgyþ’s death in 984) and in the charge of Wulgar the priest, owner of the manor of Caldicote.
The original churchyard entirely surrounded the church, the west side reaching as far as the slope above the Reverend Mathias’s family grave. It was extended in 1905 and consecrated by Dr. Jayne, Bishop of Chester. A further extension was given in 1922 by Edward Thomas Tyrwhitt Drake. Permission to use this land as a burial ground was granted in 1993.
(* The symbol þ, “thorn”, an Old English letter representing “th”.)
The Norman Doorway
There is a fine Norman doorway in the south wall, facing the cross. It has a typical semi-circular arch with chevron and cable decorations. The arch ends in carved heads – very worn. There are signs that some of the upper chevrons have been replaced. The arch extends downwards below the current ground level and would seem to indicate an original floor some 18″ below the present level. The very low arch, the space beneath the current, wooden floor and the fact that the lower door hinge is at the very bottom of the door reinforces this suggestion.
Church history researched and compiled by the late Margery Waddams
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