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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, 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
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, 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.
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, 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
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