Book Report: All Saints Church, Wing by Dr. Richard Gem (2003)

Book cover This book is a little tourist guide to the All Saints Church in Wing, Buckinghamshire, England. I certainly didn’t visit it, and I’m not sure what I would have paid for it, but I doubt it was fifty cents. The booklet is only 20 pages of text and photos, after all.

But this book like so many of the tourist-centric, very localized books I’ve read about locations in Europe (see Orvieto and Bruges from last football season, for example). Each is focused on a single city or location with the attendant pile of photographs and maps. More importantly, and more startlingly to someone who has lived in a city-within-a-city where its lustrous history extends back about a hundred years or now a region whose densely worded histories extend back a couple of hundred years, the history of Europe extends back millenia. In more narrative-driven history books, you tend to lose a little bit of a sense of wonder in the sweeping epochs and the rises and falls of civilizations and monarchies.

But All Saints Wing church extends back to when manor owners tended to take care of the churches on their manors. The church was probably built in the tenth century, as its first mention appears in the will of the manor owner in 966, and its architecture reaches back to the Anglo-Saxon period before the Norman Conquest. The guidebook points out what features survive and how the church was modified in the centuries, including during Henry VIII’s break with the Catholic church and the English Revolution. The various defilements of the historical character of the church are now part of the historical character of the church.

And in the present day, or at least in 2003, All Saints Church was not a historical venue maintained by a foundation or the British equivalent (with the additional U that is so characteristic of the Queen’s English is fouundation).

It is a church. With people attending services there and children’s programs. Just like your church, which is probably about a millennium younger than it.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories