St Clement's Church
The church at Ashampstead was built in the late 12th century as a chapel of Basildon. The massive timber roof and the bell-turret are of 16th century date.
Berkshire is not best known for a proliferation of medieval wall paintings in its churches, yet Ashampstead Church has some of the finest in the country. They appear to have been painted in the 13th century by a Benedictine monk, perhaps from Reading Abbey or even Normandy. The style is certainly of the 'Windsor School' of this period and the technique used was similar to fresco painting. These colourful pictures were used by the priest to help instruct the congregation about the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity and the appearance of Gabriel to the Shepherds.
The figure of Christ and the Apostles over the chancel arch is particularly powerful, with souls being dragged down to Hell on the right and admitted to Heaven on the left. The artist paid particular attention to detail, right down to the dogs barking at the archangel.
The new wave of Protestantism in the 16th century did not agree with such religious art and all the paintings were then plastered over. They were further covered in Biblical texts during the 18th century. But, in 1886, some of the plaster fell off during a storm and the vicar discovered his church's hidden treasure. They have been treated to ensure their future preservation in the 20s, the 50s and, most recently, in 1990.
St Clement's has shown to be a popular church for weddings, christenings, etc not least as its setting is so beautiful backed by open fields and in a country lane with classic cottages and houses.
A local team of volunteers keep the interior clean and fresh and arrange beautiful flowers on a regular basis. Outside, the church yard is also maintained by volunteers, though a professional grass cutter ensures the grass always looks in good order.