Thames Pathway

Journal of a Walk Down the River Thames

by Keith Pauling

Boveney

St. Mary Magdalene, Boveney
St. Mary Magdalene, Boveney

Approaching Boveney Lock I was surprised to find a small church sitting in splendid isolation just a few yards from the towpath. The walls are made of chalk rubble, and garrotted with small flints pressed into the mortar. There is a wooden bell-tower that houses three bells.

This is the church of St Mary Magdelene and it once served the village of Boveney which lays a few hundred yards away from the river. The church is undoubtedly old, being known to have been in existence from before 1266 when it was part of the Parish of Burnham.

In times gone by this stretch of the Thames at Boveney was used for the loading of timbers from the Windsor Forest on to the Thames barges. This would have entailed a large workforce at the wharves, and the church would have served a large number of wharf workers and bargees in those days. The area has been much quieter over the last part of the twentieth century and the church gradually fell into disuse.

St Mary Magdalene was declared redundant in 1975, but local campaigning for its preservation resulted in the building being leased to a society known as “The Friends of Friendless Churches”, who are currently undertaking some restoration work on the church. The church is still a consecrated building although services are only held three times per year.

Naturally our friends just up the river at Bray Studies simply could not resist the allure of this place, and it has featured in several of their “Hammer House of Horrors” films.

Seats have been thoughtfully provided along this part of the riverbank making it a very peaceful place. There is a car park close by so it is inevitably also very popular.

Boveney Lock
Boveney Lock

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