St. Clements was built in the late 12th Century on the site where, it is believed, the gospels where first read under a yew tree, the remains of which has been built into the Northwest corner of the church.
St.Clement was an early Bishop of Rome. He was banished by the Emperor Trajan to work in the mines. He was an effective missionary and so unpopular with Roman authorities that put him to death by throwing him into the Black Sea bound to an anchor.
A considerable part of the original 12th century church survives. The porch and the three lancet windows were added in the 16th century when the roof was also rebuilt. The heavy buttresses were added in the 18th century and major renovations took place in 1849 and 1894. Look for the small scaffolding holes on the outer walls of the church.
The wooden bell turret was common to poorer villages in Berkshire where public subscription rather than a wealthy donor financed the church. Before this the church would have had a small bell hung from a frame on the gable end. The single bell in the bell tower is inscribed ‘Henry Knight made mee in 1662’. There was a thriving family of Knights in the parish at the time and ‘made mee’ may have meant ‘provided me’.The inside of the church was originally decorated with painted biblical scenes. Congregations were mostly illiterate and these paintings reinforced the stories told by the priests. The wall paintings were covered over in the puritan period during the 17th century and rediscovered in 1895 and more in the 1930’s. For more information see: www.berkshirehistory.com/churches/ashampstead_wall_painting.html or
St. Clements has served the local community for 800 years and, with the ministry of Rev. Will Watts and Katy Weston, member of the Ministry Team, it is still the focus for Ashampstead parish life.