St Mary's, Stoke D'Abernon

The Domesday survey, made within 20 years of the Norman Conquest, describes a church at “Stoche,” an Anglo-Saxon word which implies a timber-palisaded farmstead. The present placename of Stoke D’Abernon is an amalgamation of the original Saxon name with the surname of Sir Roger D’Aubernoun, who was rewarded with land in Surrey for his services to William the Conqueror. The original church, substantial portions of which survive on the south side, was built in the late 7th or early 8th century and so belongs with the scatter of south-eastern churches that immediately followed the introduction of Christianity to southern England in 597 by St Augustine. Its particular importance is that Stoke D’Abernon was from the beginning an "ecclesia propria", (a church built on private land by a feudal lord and over which he retained a proprietary interest, especially the right to appoint clergy) and is the earliest English example of a church which had a thegn’s gallery or Lord’s seat entered via the high-level doorway still visible in the south wall. This was probably in use until the 13th century, when the current square chancel was built, thus providing the Norman lords of the manor with a chapel of their own behind the altar, which then stood only a little eastward of the narrow Saxon chancel arch.