The historic parish of Saint Alice the Hapless dates back to the ninth century when a Saxon mission built a small church on the site of what is now the parish church. Nothing remains of that building except a few shards of wood now kept within the 14th century high altar. The present building was begun in 1395, and has been added to over the centuries. A Lady Chapel was built in 1466, demolished in the Reformation, rebuilt in 1688, repaired in 1707, repositioned in 1800, re-ordered in 1899 and eventually painted in 1956. The most recent addition is a telephone cubicle in the belfry containing a Samaritan freephone connection, and an outside tap for the churchyard Milennium Hosepipe - both blessed by the outgoing Bishop of Wenchoster in 2000.
The parish remains thinly populated for most of the year but becomes a busy resort during the summer months. Thousands travel to enjoy the glorious Broadwench Sands and swim in the channel. The dunes remain an attraction for all ages - as do the narrow lanes and conveniently shaded paths. The Shrine of Our Lady of the Dunes, alas, ramains closed due to lack of maintenance funding - but it is hoped to re-open this place of pilgrimage this coming summer. Applications for postulants should be sent to the Diocesan Office.
Somewhere in this parish was located the Nunnery of Shaston Farthing which was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1536. The buildings were dismantled by local people, and many of the stones can be found today in the older houses of Overcamp. The original location of the Church (dedicated to St. Miriam the Virgin), together with the dormitories, apothecarium and refectory, is now uncertain. The Archdeaconry takes its name from this medieval female enclosed community.
Also in this parish was the village of East Broadwench which fell into the sea during the Great Gale of December 11th 1827. The whole community, including the Norman church of St. Phoebe the Thick, was destroyed in the space of 5 hours as the sea eroded the coastline. No trace of it now remains, though local legend says that at high tide on the yearly anniversary of the tragedy, the bells of the parish church can still be heard tolling under the waves. The Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Wenchoster still holds East Broadwench as his title.
To view a map of Overcamp (and a selection of other villages in Wenchoster) click HERE.