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Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Wiltshire

by Peter Kessler, 13 April 2013

 

 

Kennet Part 2: Churches of Wilcot, Wootton Rivers & Great Bedwyn

The Church of the Holy Cross

The Church of the Holy Cross, Wilcot, lies at the western end of a lane leading from the junction between Hare Street and Alton Road, approximately 450 metres west of The Golden Swan public house. The small village was first recorded in AD 940, and a church probably existed by then, albeit wooden. A stone church was already standing by 1086, perhaps built immediately following the Conquest. Work on the current church began in the late twelfth century.

The Church of the Holy Cross

The church was built of rubble and ashlar, with ashlar dressings, a chancel with south porch, a nave with north aisle and south porch, and a west tower. Only the chancel survives from the twelfth century church, the rest being rebuilt in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. A dependent chapel around Draycot existed between the mid-twelfth century and at least 1361. In 1892 Oare was divided away to become a separate parish. In 1928 West Stowell was added to Wilton.

St Andrew's Church

St Andrew's Church, Wootton Rivers, is located at the south-western corner of the village, along a short lane leading from the main street. The small church was built in the fourteenth century on raised ground outside the village. It replaced an earlier church which may have stood on a site a little lower down the slope. This version belonged to the abbey of Mont St Michel and exited in 1086, one of two churches on the Wootton estate. The other may have stood at Easton.

St Andrew's Church

By 1550 the roof over the chancel was in poor repair, and the parish seems to have been a poor one. By 1812 the number of communicants had fallen to twelve, although it picked up during that century. The church was called St Andrew by 1763, but perhaps not before. It is built of flint with sarsens and has an undivided chancel and nave with south porch and west bell turret. Nearby Wootton Rivers Methodist Chapel opened in 1881 and closed in 1967.

St Mary's Church

St Mary's Church, Great Bedwyn, sits at the south-east corner of Church Street and Granary Road, close to the road itself. In the Middle Ages, the parish apparently consisted of most of what became Great Bedwyn, Little Bedwyn, and Grafton parishes. A minster church stood in the late 1000s, and a church in 1066, but its exact site is unknown. In the 1100s the church stood 250 metres south-west of the market place, before Great Bedwyn lost prestige to Hungerford.

St Mary's Church

Great Bedwyn's church was known as St Mary by 1405. It was built of ashlar and flint with ashlar dressings, and consists of a chancel with south vestry, a central tower with transepts, and an aisled and clerestoried nave. The church was already a large building in the twelfth century, when the aisles were built. The chancel was rebuilt in Chilmark stone in the mid or later thirteenth century. The crossing was built in the mid-1300s, presumably to replace a tower.

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