A Short History
There have been three Churches situated on this same site - the first a medieval one which was built around 1140. The early clergy may have included Benedict, the chaplain of Sproatley, recorded c.1200, with the first recorded Rector being William de Taney in May, 1230. This first Church was given to Sproatley by Ralf de Gosla and Walter de Ver, son of Adam of 'Sprotele'.
Over the following centuries this early thatched-roof property gradually fell into such a serious state of disrepair that it was eventually demolished in 1819. A replacement 'white-brick' church was built on the same site and completed by 1820. The Reverend Charles Wapshare was the Rector at that time. This new, larger Church allowed greater attendance capacity and provided for congregational comfort during Church Services by the addition of at least one hundred seats (in medieval times the congregation simply stood for the duration of the service that they were attending).
Originally the medieval church was dedicated to St Swithun but that dedication was changed to All Saints when the Church was re-built in 1820. It was later re-dedicated to St Swithin in 1840 and has remained so since that time.
The Church was once again rebuilt in 1886, this time by Smith and Brodrick of Hull - mainly at the promotion of the Rector at that time, C. J. Wall. This is the building which remains on the site today. Constructed of grey brick with stone dressings and a graduated slate roof it celebrates the Gothic Revival style. St Swithins has a 3 stage west tower, a 3-bay aisled Nave with a north porch, a 2-bay Chancel and a north Vestry.
It was during 1886 that the organ was gifted to the Church (see link in main menu for further information regarding the organ).
The Church's Tower houses two 14th century bells which were restored during the late 1980's. The Tower also holds a set of 8 tubular bells which were presented to the church by its Rector in 1888. Both sets of bell-pulls are to be found in the church's Vestry which is situated directly below the Tower.
St Swithins Church became a Grade II listed building on July 6th, 1987.
When visiting the church one anomaly is often in evidence which is the spelling of 'Swithin'. On the notice boards, both under the Lych Gate, in the church porch and at other points in the interior it is spelt 'Swithun'. 'Swithin' is the modern-day spelling of the name 'Swithun'. St Swiþhun (old English), Bishop of Winchester, was born around the year 800 and died on 2nd of July 862 at Winchester (Hampshire). He was reputed to be a diligent builder of churches in places where there were none before and a repairer of those that had been destroyed or ruined. His reputation as a weather saint is said to have arisen from the moving of his body from a lowly grave to its golden shrine within Winchester Cathedral which was delayed by incessant rain.
The weather on the anniversary of this (15th July) indicated, according to the old rhyme, what it would be for the next forty days:
St. Swithun's day, if thou dost rain,
For forty days it will remain;
St. Swithun's day, if thou be fair,
For forty days 'twill rain na mair.
Whoever told the story about the 'St. Swithuns' day saying was obviously well aware that summer weather patterns established by the beginning to the middle of July tend to be persistent throughout the coming few weeks. In fact this is statistically true in 7 to 8 out of 10 years.
For more detailed history of both Sproatley and St Swithins Church please refer to the 'Links' page.