Diary of a Rambling Antiquarian

Tuesday, 3 September 2013


Today I walk a mile further north of Wilder's Folly to the village of Sulham, where Henry Wilder was rector of the parish church of St Nicholas. The original Norman church (itself probably replacing an earlier Anglo-Saxon church) that Henry would have known was demolished in 1832 and replaced by the present church, designed by Henry's son John Wilder, and consecrated in 1838.

St Nicholas' Church, Sulham

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}

Built in the "Early English" style, with Caen stone and flint,
but the design is influenced by small Florentine churches that John Wilder saw on a trip to Italy.

Chancel of St Nicholas' Church

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}

Henry was a descendant of Nicholas Wylder, to whom Henry VII had granted land and arms after the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. In 1497 the Wilder family acquired Nunhide Manor, and in 1712 Henry's grandfather, Henry Wilder, acquired the manor of Sulham and the advowson of the living for the parish of Sulham. In 1785 Henry (the younger) became rector of Sulham, the first of five Wilders who held the benefice almost continuously from then up until 1943.

Inside the church, on the wall by the north door, are a collection of memorials to various members of the Wilder family, including one that tells us that Henry lived to the age of 69 and Joan to the age of 89.

Memorial to Henry Wilder (1744–1814) and Family in St Nicholas' Church

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}

Before I make the half hour walk back to work, I have just enough time to peek in at Henry Wilder's home, Sulham House, last seen between the arches of Wilder's Folly. Actually this was only one of his two homes, as the Wilders were also lords of the Manor of Purley, and owned Purley Hall, just to the north of Sulham.

Sulham House from the North

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}

Oh, for the life of an 18th-century country parson.


Berkshire | Churches

Index of Rambling Antiquarian Blog Posts

Rambling Antiquarian on Google Maps