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St BONIFACE OLD CHURCH, Bonchurch
St Boniface Old Church, Bonchurch, is a gem for any church or heritage lover. It is one of the few medieval churches in Britain dedicated to this Saxon monk, who was martyred in the Netherlands in 755. Originally from Devon, but later based at monastery at Nursling near Southampton, he is believed to have preached in Bonchurch at Pulpit Rock on the downs above the village, close to where there is a legendary St Boniface Well. Boniface helped spread Christianity in Germany, became Archbishop of Mainz and has been credited with introducing the first Christmas tree.
The old church, which was replaced by a larger parish church, also dedicated to St Boniface, in 1848, is tiny and secluded. It is believed to date from the 11th century, but some windows are later medieval or Tudor and other features are 17th century. High on the north wall of the nave are the remains of rare Romanesque wall paintings believed to date from the early 12th century.