Republishing this blog for the benifit of Inspired Sunday
Aldworth is a small village set just on the Berkshire Downs near the ridgeway it is mentioned on the Domsday Book under Elleorde which in old English could have meant Old Enclosure of Old Farm. It's a very rural farming community though once boasted a village shop and school which have now gone but it does have the best pub in the area, the family owning it have had the place for the last 300 years. In 1978 the pub hit the headlines when it became the first place to charter Concord for a flight something which did not go down well with the Concord club but then they did not have one of the pilots as a local. One of my claims to fame is that I was on the flight.
So who were the Aldworth Giants, well they were the De La Beche family and in the church are figures that are supposed to be life size representations, depicting knights all over seven feet tall. According to tradition the giants were known by other names: John Long, John Strong, John Never Afraid and John Ever Afraid. The effigy said to represent John Ever afraid no longer exists, but was set in an alcove in the outside wall of the church, which has now been blocked. It is said that he sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for worldly riches. The bargain was that the Devil would claim his soul whether he was buried inside or outside the church. Burying his body within the church walls meant that the Devil was cheated of his prize.
As you walk up to the church along the footpath you can see the where grave to John Ever Afraid was.
Looking at the space I feel it is a shame that there is nothing there now other that a filled in space.
Starting on the right as you go in is John De La Beche who was the second son of Sir John and Lady Isabella. He died in 1394. Le lays recumbent with no armor and a dog at his feet.
Next along is Lady Joan, Nee De La Zouche, wife of Sir Philip. He Effigy shorter than the Recess was moved here from the nave. Her costume is 14th Century and her pillow is supported by angels
Sir Philip De La Beche second son of Sir Philip and Lady Joan, A Knight of Berks. Committed to Scarborough Castle in 1322 but pardoned in 1327 by Edward III. He was sheriff of Berks& Oxon 1332-3. His effigy is fully armored with the visor raised.
Looking over the North side of the Nave is another set of effigies which I you see as you walk in the entrance door, they are.
Sir Robert De La Beche Knighted by Edward I in 1278. The figure is in plated Armour with a surcoat. This is the first of nine effigies carved between 1300 & 1350
This fellow is Sir John De La Beche who was the son of Sir Robert who was also a knight and received his lands from his father. His feet are resting on a Lion.
Next to her lays Sir John De La Beche first son of Sir Phlip and Lady Joan. A knight of Berks in 1316 and keeper of Winchester Castle. Committed to the tower in 1322 by Edward II but pardoned by Edward III in 1327. He lies in the Armour of a Knight with his dogs and a lion at his feet.
So those were the Aldworth Giants and you may wonder why the effigies are all so damages, well it seems the Roundheads popped in during the civil war (battle of Newbury up the road) and took it out on them thinking they were royalty.
One last little story I read was that Queen Elizabeth the 1st visited the church while out for a ride. you can read a bit more in the Aldworth Website. If you ever find yourself in the area it is well worth stopping off for an hour to look round the church.
Since writing this blog Geoffrey Morgan has left a message below on his theory about the 10th Giant John Ever Afraid which could well be in St Lawrence Church Hungerford It makes interesting reading and I can see where Geoffrey is coming from on this. No doubt someone will discover what happened in time.