St. Giles’ Church

St. Giles’ Church

St Giles’ is a beautiful Grade One listed Medieval Church with box pews. The name ‘Stoke Poges’: Stoke means a stockaded place. If sufficiently large and important it became known as ‘Stoke’ or ‘The Place’. Thus William Fitz-Ansculf who held the Manor in 1086 (in the grounds of which the Norman Church was built) became known as William Stoches or William of Stoke.

Two hundred years after the time of this William, Amicia, heiress of the then occupant of the Manor, who was known as Amicia of Stoke, married Robert Pogeys, who was Knight of the Shire. Thus the name was given to Stoke Poges.

St. Giles’, the Parish Church of Stoke Poges, dates from Saxon times with remains still existing in part of the Chancel Wall and windows There are parts still surviving from three later periods, Norman (1086) the pillars, part of the Chancel and part of the Tower; Early Gothic (1220) the nave reconstructed on the Norman pillars and Tudor (1558) the Hastings Chapel, built in red-brick.

The Church and Churchyard were formerly enclosed within the grounds of Stoke Park, 200 yards away from the old Manor House, hence their remoteness from the centre of the village.

Many notable people who occupied the Stoke Park Mansion supported the Church. The Chancel contains the tomb of Sir John de Molyns, Marshal of the King’s Falcons and Supervisor of the King’s Castles. Sir John founded the Chantry in 1338 and it contains a Piscina with two basins, a rare feature.

Originally the bells were rung from the floor of the tower. Mr John Penn made this into a Manor House pew in 1800 and constructed a ringing chamber immediately above it. Since 1924 the bells have been rung from a higher storey in the tower, accessed from an external staircase.

The Hastings Chapel was built in red brick with stone mullioned windows in 1558. Lord Hastings of Loughborough, son of the first Earl of Huntingdon, founded an alms house in 1557 and built the Chapel to serve as its oratory, also as his burial-place and for other members of the Hastings family.

There are some interesting windows. One known as the ‘Bicycle Window’ is made up of fragments of glass, one piece of which is dated from 1643, as a memorial to those who fell in the Second World War. It is not possible to deduce the original complete design. Another pair of windows commemorates the death of a small child belonging to the Howard-Vyse family. They show the child leaving its earthly mother and being accepted by its heavenly mother.

The tomb of Thomas Gray is outside immediately below the east window of the Hastings Chapel. A tablet on the wall also records that his mother Dorothy Gray and her sister Mary Antrobus are buried in the vault below. Gray died at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge and requested to be buried next to his mother.