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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Wiltshire

by Peter Kessler, 13 August 2019. Updated 16 December 2019

West Wiltshire Part 1: Churches of Bradford-on-Avon, Semington & Imber

St Laurence Church, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire

The Church of St Laurence, Bradford-on-Avon, is on the northern side of Church Street, about seventy metres west of the meeting point with the River Avon. Its date of origin is debatable, falling somewhere between AD 700-1000, but it remains one of the country's most complete Saxon churches. It was replaced as parish church by Holy Trinity just across the road, but still sees the occasional service after having been restored from other uses such as a school and house.

St George's Church, Semington, Wiltshire

St George's Church, Semington, lies on the southern side of Church Street, about 110 metres east of the junction with the High Street. Semington's early history is closely bound to that of Steeple Ashton, as it formed a chapelry within Steeple Ashton's ecclesiastical parish. A chaplain was serving here by 1370 but the first mention of the dedication to St George dates only to 1470, with the chapel nave and porch being built in the same century.

St George's Church, Semington, Wiltshire

The chancel was added in the early sixteenth century. A tower was also added, probably in the 1700s, but this was removed in 1860 when the east and west walls were rebuilt. A small bell-turret replaced it and the interior was completely remodelled. The roof was also replaced and a new font installed. The bell at the west end of the chapel was recast around 1850 from a pre-Reformation bell said to derive from the chapel at Bulkington. The vestry was added in 1870.

Semington Methodist Church, Wiltshire

Semington Wesleyan Methodist Chapel is at the north-east corner of the High Street and Church Street junction. In 1676 the village had 207 nonconformists and two dissenters. The home of William Beaven became a meeting house for Independents in 1783 and that of David Marks for Methodists in 1797. On 27 April 1819 a Methodist chapel was opened, presumably here. A new chapel was built in 1884 with a Sunday School added in 1912. The chapel closed in 1981.

St Giles' Church, Imber, Wiltshire

St Giles's Church lies on the south-western edge of the abandoned village of Imber, overlooking the southern half of Salisbury Plain. There was a settlement here by AD 967. The land was held by the Abbess of Romsey as part of the Edington Estate. In 1086 it was recorded as being divided between Romsey and the earl of Hereford. Military activity on Salisbury Plain began in 1897, increasing rapidly during the two wars, with the War Office moving everyone out in 1943.

St Giles' Church, Imber, Wiltshire

The church occupies the site of an earlier building dating from the mid-1100s. The nave was rebuilt towards the end of the 1200s and was followed around 1400 by the addition of the north and south aisles, the distinctive five-point tower, and north porch. Then the nave roof was reconstructed. The chancel was rebuilt in 1849 at which time the north-east vestry was built. The once-rich church fittings were parcelled out to other churches in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.

Three photos on this page by P L Kessler, with two kindly contributed by David White, and one by Sam Weller via the 'History Files: Churches of the British Isles' Flickr group.



Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original feature for the History Files.