A WOKINGHAM author has dug deep to uncover an 800-year-old mystery surrounding one of the town’s best loved churches.
John Hook wondered how the heavy roof could be supported on chalk pillars and what life was like when Wokingham was just a hamlet.
He decided to reveal what he found –including why All Saints is such a large building – in a novel called Top Meadow.
It follows the story of a teenager called Minnow who lived in Wokingham as the church was being built.
“I initially decided to write an article for the parish magazine which soon became the first two chapters of Top Meadow,” explained John.
“It was not until the third chapter that mention was made that a church was being built. Historical dates for King Henry II are used as a foundation for the conjecture that forms the core of the novel.
“The main character, teenager Minnow, has difficulties with a lack of stature that excludes him obtaining typical employment as a farm worker. His qualities are eventually developed into skills by total strangers and he goes on to become respected, rather than ridiculed, within the community.”
John, who is a retired teacher, has been a member of All Saints for many years and is well known in Scouting circles. He was District Scout Commissioner for Wokingham for five years and is currently the Appointments Secretary for Wokingham Scout District.
“The novel opens with Minnow coming across some men digging large holes in the ground which would become the foundations for the church,” added John.
“It is very unusual to have chalk pillars and I wondered why that was the case at All Saints.
“At the time, Wokingham was just a hamlet which was not mentioned in the Doomsday Book so why does it have a such a large church?
“I discovered that the main road system in and around the town has not changed in 800 years. I also wanted to know what life was like back then and discovered Wokingham was something of a hub even though it was so small.
“Life would have been very hard and the main employment would have been farming or working in the Great Windsor Forest. I decided to make the main character, Minnow, a small teenager who would not have qualified for the usual form of employment. It is a sort of coming of age novel set in our town.”
John will be talking about Top Meadow in Wokingham Library on Wednesday, March 6 at at 10.30am where copies will be available to buy.
You can find out more about the novel and other fascinating facts about Wokingham on John’s blog: www.topmeadowbook.co.uk