Mondays 7.30pm in the Church Tower
Enquiries: Angie Hodges Tel: 01935 823928
The Church Building
"One of the most interesting Churches I have seen : containing portions of extreme beauty" - SIR GILBERT SCOTT, IN 1856
The Chancel and Nave, of Ham stone, erected about 1100, formed the original Norman Church which was without Tower, Transepts or Porch.
Windows - The small window on the South side is one of the original windows. It was opened up in 1917. The low windows North and South date from the 13th century and may have been used to
warn of the time of the consecration of the elements during Mass, or possibly were leper windows. The East window (containing some mediaeval glass) and wall are 15th century. There is no physical
evidence of an Apse. (A recent electronic survey suggests however that there well might have been one). The other windows on the North and South date from about 1250. Those on the North may have been
altered in the 14th century. The Altar is Jacobean and the Rails date from Charles I.
The Chancel Arch is thought to have been rebuilt. It was restored in 1857.
The Recesses in the North and South Walls are probably the one an Eastern Sepulchre, and the other an Aumbrey. The Piscina in South East Angle is earlier than 1300.
Windows -the two small windows North and South (near the organ) are original 11th century windows. The others were destroyed to make way for the larger windows. The large South window, ‘Perpendicular', is about 15th century.
The other smaller windows were inserted about 1300. Note the splays cut the Norman windows. The West Window, ‘Decorated', is 14th century. The Window high up on the South side dates from the 15th or 16th century and was inserted to light the Rood Loft. The Rood Screen fell in 1795. A part of it is thought to be incorporated in the rail along the top of the pew on the left as the Church is entered. The Nave Walls were heightened in the 15th century. The original height, about that of the chancel walls, is clearly seen on the outside where the worked stone joins rubble and plaster, and on the inside, by the one remaining Eaves Corbel in the South Transept. The Wall Paintings disclosed in places, are 17th century. The Roof originally high pitched is now almost horizontal. The Piscina in the east pier of the arch between the South Transept and Nave is 13th century. The Font is late 12th or early 13th century and was originally centrally in the Nave. It was moved to its present position in 1916. Note stones inserted at top where lock and hinges were. The Pulpit is Jacobean. Note the Preacher's Hour Glass.
The North Transept
This was added about 1225. The North Window dates from about 1430.
The Screen at the entrance was probably brought with the stone Altar from the Chapel of St Nicholas in the Castle at West Stoke. Note the Hagioscope.
The South Transept
Added about 1300. The Piscina is the same age as the Transept. The Recessed Tomb is probably that of the Founder of the Transept, Reginald, or Robert de Monckton. Note the interesting series of little heads between the windows. The small cusp terminal above the Squint belonged to the Abbey Church at Montacute and was placed here about 1917. Note Corbel showing original height of Nave Wall.
The Porch and room above, were added about 1325. It will be noticed that it is not bonded in to the wall of the Tower. The room above, sometimes call a Parvise, may have been used for school
purposes, or as a place from which the priest or other person could watch the church. Note the peculiar marking in the plaster between the groining of the roof. There is similar work in an old
cottage a short distance from the Church. The Tympanum was walled up and mutilated when the Porch was added. It was discovered, and opened up in 1857. Two explanations of the figures:-
1) Sagittarius, representing the forces of evil, is bending his bow on the Lion who represents the Christian. Above is the Tree of Life in which are the faithful at rest. On the same level is the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God). (It has been suggested that Sagittarius represents Christ and Leo the devil who is being Vanquished.) 2) On December 26th, 1135, Stephen usurped the throne of England from his cousin Geoffrey of Anjou. Sagittarius was the crest of Stephen: Leo that of Geoffrey. Does the Sculptor here represent the triumph of Stephen over Geoffrey?
The Nave Walls
Note the original height of Nave where worked stone joins rubble and plaster.
Outside the North West of Church (near the Porch). Its use is unknown. Four explanations:-
1. It was over a door leading to a bone-house beneath the Church.
Note the ventilators.
2. A Calvary similar to that in the same position at St. John's, Glastonbury.
3. An Eaves burial -a stage in transition between burial in the Churchyard and burial in the Church.
4. A spot where the bodies of the excommunicated rested prior to burial.
Note the carving over the Norman Windows in the North and South walls, also the walled up Norman door on the South side and the Scratch Dial near by.
The Chancel Walls
Fine specimens of 12th century Corbel tables are to be seen on the North and South Walls. Note the Scratch Dial on the South side.
This dates from the 13th century. The embattled top and cornice were added in the 15th century. Notice the Gargoyles.
Near the South East end of the church is a flat stone covering the grave to Theophilus Crabbe, the Presbyterian minister of the Parish who was appointed by the Puritans in 1645. Note the head of the Old Cross near the entrance to the Churchyard.