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West Grimstead comprises just over 150 households with a population of around 300. This quiet, peaceful village is mentioned in the Doomsday book and has a Village Hall built in 1912/13. A Methodist Chapel was built in 1825 and closed in 2009.
We have no knowledge of anything like exactitude in respect of when St. John’s may have been built but it is well over 700 years old. Local tradition has it that it was built during the reign of William Rufus, sometime between the years 1087-1100. The first Rector is recorded to have taken up his post in 1294. In 1994, on the 700th anniversary of the recording of the first Rector of West Grimstead, a beautiful new stained glass window was commissioned. It was installed in December 1996 and dedicated at the village carol service that year. It is called The Tree of Life and can be seen in the south east aisle of the church.
In Edward Hutton’s “Highways and Byways of Wiltshire” (1917) we find the words ‘At West Grimstead there is a little old church, very reverent and homely and still. The whole humble building is worth a close and loving inspection, and is a delight on a lonely road’. We have recently had the roof tiles and felt stripped and replaced in order to treat the roof timbers.
Being a small village, nothing very exciting takes place. We rely upon quieter pleasures, such as the compliments we receive since quantities of snowdrops and daffodils were planted in the churchyard, and the appreciation of the quintessentially rustic atmosphere created around this ancient place of worship by the sheep grazing there later in the summer.