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Wiltshire Community History

St Nicholas\' Church, Biddestone

This Anglican parish church is built of rubble stone with stone tiled roofs and coped gables. The church has Saxon foundations but is mostly Norman with a 300 year old oak door in the Norman doorway. The font is also 300 years old. The north and south walls were built to throw light onto the altar. In 1250 a two light decorated window was inserted on the south wall. The north wall's low window was blocked up from inside around 1280. The bell turret was re-built on the new east gable, c.1480 and is very rare. It was built to house a Sanctus bell which would be rung three times at points of consecration in the mass so that the ploughmen and shepherds in the fields could cross themselves even when they couldn't attend the service. A new bell tower system was developed and very few of these turrets survive. There were two medieval bells, rung by levers. One was recovered after 100 years in a Lacock farmyard in the 1920's by the Reverend Ketchley. It was dated 1553. The organ is 200 years old and was last used in 1972, but was restored in the 1990's. The sanctuary was built in the nineteenth century with stone taken from the old church of St Peters. In 1935 the west window was restored by Sir Harold Brakespears. The wall tablets (1695-1823) are for the Mountjoy family who now bear the name of Elliot.

In 1577 the church was given a Chalice by John Dickson and a small flat cup in 1672. The interior is mostly eighteenth century, with pine pews and a gallery of 1712.

The Fellows of Winchester College were thanked in 1900 for the restoration of the nave. In 1868 the Warden and Fellows of Winchester College gave land for a new cemetery which was consecrated in 1915.

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