[Religion - Christianity]

Christianity

It is not clear when, or how, Christianity came to Britain. Although pre-reformation scholars believed that Celtic Britain may have been Christianised early, religion in Roman Britain for instance consisted originally of Pagan worship. However, Christianity eventually spread throughout Roman Britain, largely taking hold first among the rich urban classes. How this affected the common man is difficult to say, but by the end of the fourth century there is archaeological evidence of Christian worship, and it is a matter of record that Christian missionaries came to England from Rome in AD 597.By this time, of course, the Romans had long since left our shores, leaving the country open to invasion by the Pagan Anglo-Saxons.

For the Anglo-Saxons, the most important thing was to believe in a god who could protect them. They gradually converted to Christianity, but obviously they didn’t immediately cease to believe in the existence of their own, old gods. Eventually English Christianity was forged through its relationship with the Pagan beliefs of the Anglo-Saxon – a slow transition during which Paganism gradually absorbed Christianity, without losing its own identity. [Celtic Cross]

How soon Christianity reached Fovant is a matter for conjecture. We know that a Saxon Cathedral was built at, relatively nearby, Sherborne in 705, so almost inevitably our area would come within the sphere of its influence. However, that the Saxons who settled, and named, our village Fobbefunta, the Fountain of Fobbe, suggesting a regard, if not a reverence, for the springs which abound in the village, is surely an indication of remnants of Paganism. Undoubtedly in time Fobbefunta became Christianised, and there is some suggestion that a Saxon place of worship, Pagan. Christian, or an amalgamation of each, was set on our current Church site. However, there is no proof of its existence.

After the Norman Conquest a parochial system was quickly established. It would have been during this period that our initial Church was built, but, like many other rural parish churches of the period, it fell into such a state of disrepair that it was virtually rebuilt in the 15th century.

The buildings may have fallen to pieces, but by this time Christianity was well established throughout the country.

J.O.H.
April 2006

Content last updated
9 June 2006

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