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Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Wiltshire

by Peter Kessler & Karen White, 9 January 2020

Salisbury Part 1: Churches of Stourton, Harnham & Salisbury

Church of St Peter, Stourton, Wiltshire

The Church of St Peter, Stourton, is on the south side of the High Street at the western edge of the hamlet. This site also means that it edges onto Stourhead Gardens, looking out over the neo-Classical eighteenth century landscape that was designed by Sir Henry Hoare II. The earliest record of a church here dates from 1291, and it seems likely that the north nave arcade and tower belong to that period. The lordly Stourton family have a vault under the north aisle.

Church of St Peter, Stourton, Wiltshire

In 1717 the Stourton estate was purchased by Henry Hoare. He renovated the church in 1722, building a large altar piece to span the entire east wall, and his own family vault. A later rebuilding in 1848 inserted a Hoare family pew, complete with its own fireplace for comfort. In the north chapel is a Norman font, brought here from the redundant church of Monkton Deverill. Also in the north chapel is a large altar tomb to the Fifth Lord Stourton and his wife (circa 1536).

St George's Church, Harnham, Wiltshire

St George's Church, Harnham, is accessed via Old Meadows Walk to its south-west, and also Lower Street to its north. This Norman church was built by 1115, when Henry I signed a charter granting it to Salisbury Cathedral. The chancel was lengthened in the Early English style during the 1200s and, probably in the early 1300s, the Trinity Chapel on the south side was built. Some remodelling was done about 1300. The tower is mostly early 1800s, possibly a replacement.

Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Salisbury, Wiltshire

Salisbury Cathedral to the immediate south of Salisbury city centre is bounded by North Walk and Bishop's Walk. More formally known as the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, its foundation stones were laid on 28 April 1220. The first part to be completed were the three eastern chapels which were named for St Stephen, Trinity, and St Peter. The building of the new cathedral was greatly helped by the energy of the bishop and the patronage of powerful people.

Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Salisbury, Wiltshire

Henry III donated trees from Ireland and estates in Wiltshire for the roof timbers, doors, and so on, while one Alice Brewer gave marble for twelve years from her Purbeck quarry, which provided capitals, shafts, columns, and bases inside, and some shafts outside. The cathedral's main body was completed with consecration on 29 September 1258. The project as a whole also included the west front, the cloisters, the Chapter House, and the (now demolished) detached bell tower.

Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Salisbury, Wiltshire

All of those areas were probably completed by 1266. The cathedral close was subsequently surrounded to the north and east by a protective wall. Stone for this was robbed from the now redundant cathedral and houses at Old Sarum, along with some re-used carvings that can still be seen today. Even more spectacularly, the cathedral was enlarged upwards between 1300-1320 by the addition of the tower and spire - the tallest in England (with later repairs).

One photo on this page kindly contributed by Carol Nourse, and five by Andy Mulhearn, Sam Weller, Karen White (two), and Maria MK, all via the 'History Files: Churches of the British Isles' Flickr group.

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