St Dunstan’s - The Parish Church of Monks Risborough
Of the many interesting features of this medieval church, the two most historically significant are not apparent to the casual eye, its site, and the bounds of the parish, which it has served for almost a thousand years. The settlers, who planted their community between the Icknield Way along which they had come, and the spring line watering and heavy clay lands lower down, established a boundary in Anglo-Saxon times which has persisted to the present day.
Witnessed by royalty and bishops in a Charter dated 903 AD, with landmarks still identifiable, it is the oldest certified parish boundary in the country.
There has been a church on the current site for over 1,000 years. From 993 AD the land was in the possession of the monks of Canterbury, and to their interest must be attributed the provision of a building somewhat grander than might be expected, and its dedication to one of Canterbury’s most honoured saints. Every age subsequently has contributed to its embellishment, from the twelfth century ‘Aylesbury’ font, one of several in the area of a unique and beautiful design, by way of enlargements as the population grew after the Black Death, through Victorian ‘restoration’ of mercifully limited effect, to a modern fibre-glass sculpture depicting Dunstan in action against the Devil.
A window, dedicated to Dunstan, was installed in 1988 as part of the ‘millennium’ celebration of the year of his death.
There has also been destruction, and the scars left by the iconoclasts of the Reformation and Civil War are clearly visible, allowing the visitor to reconstruct in the imagination ‘the occasional irruption of the ill-tempered world beyond the land at East Risborough which Aethelfrith granted to his daughter Etheigyth’ (as the old Charter states) into this quiet, courteous precinct.
The Church is open to visitors daily from at least 9.30am till 4pm. For details of all the Sunday/Midweek services and other activities please visit www.stdunstanchurch.org
Rev. James Tomkins
Tel: 01844 275944