Family spent winter inside yew

Verger Edwina Johnson stands in the hollow trunk of the '1,000-year-old yew tree.
Verger Edwina Johnson stands in the hollow trunk of the '1,000-year-old yew tree.
Graeme Clark of Wet Wet Wet

Popped in, Souled Out and going strong 30 years on

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In this week’s feature following in the steps of Arthur Mee we find ourselves at St Nicholas’s Church, Boarhunt.

It is a gem, standing just over the hill behind Fort Nelson.

The font where Saxon babies were dipped. The bricked up north door can be seen also. PPP-140714-122039001

The font where Saxon babies were dipped. The bricked up north door can be seen also. PPP-140714-122039001

The oldest part was built by men who would have had no knowledge of William the Conqueror, indeed the font, in which Saxon babies were dipped, is still used today.

When the foundations were laid perhaps it was Egbert, King of Wessex from 829, who ruled the land. Or maybe Alfred the Great who was king from some time in the 880s to 899.

The first part of the building to note is the roof that holds a bell-turret that has survived 700 years of storms.

The former south door is now blocked-off, but surrounding it is a medieval mural. In the north wall opposite is a former priest’s door which has also been bricked up.

Boarhunt's St Nicholas  Church  from the south. Two of the bricked up original doors can be seen. PPP-140714-122000001

Boarhunt's St Nicholas Church from the south. Two of the bricked up original doors can be seen. PPP-140714-122000001

Verger Edwina Johnson tells me that when funerals took place the coffin entered by the south door and left by the north.

A window cut by a Saxon builder still shines light onto anyone entering the building.

Pass outside to the east end of the church and there stands a yew tree more than 1,000 years old.

It is more than 27ft in circumference and hollow.

Edwina told me legend has it that many years ago a family with nowhere to stay was allowed to live within the tree for a winter.

They were protected from the weather by a leather cape. You can still stand inside the tree today.