Wiltshire Community History
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|Title :||Church of St. Giles, Imber|
|Author :||C. E. Ponting|
|Journal :||WAM Vol. 25, pages 13-15|
|Full Text :||This Church is one of the seven in the county dedicated in the name of S. Giles; it is simple in plan, having only nave with north and south aisles, chancel, and western tower, but it has many points of great interest.|
As is frequently the case the oldest feature is the font, the bowl of which appears to be Norman work of about the middle of the twelfth century. This would indicate the probability of an older Church than the present one having stood on this site, and this probability receives support from the extreme narrowness of the aisles. The present aisles were built at a time when it was customary to make them of much greater width than before, and that this was not done here is probably due to the foundation lines of a Norman Church having been followed. We may, therefore, fairly assume that a Norman Church with aisles once stood here. The foundations of Norman work-at least down to the middle of the twelfth century-were almost invariably bad, and this doubtless accounts for the re-building of Churches having so often become necessary within so short a time of their original construction. The re-building here began with the side walls and arcades of the nave which are probably the work of quite the end of the thirteenth century. The west end of the north aisle was most likely built at the same time, for the two buttresses there are of the work of that period.
The great wave of Church building which swept over the country in the fifteenth century did not miss Imber, for at a date not later than 1420 the north and south aisles - with the very usual door in each wall, the square-headed windows in the side walls, and the pointed one in the east end-were re-built and the north porch and tower added. The nave was also re-roofed in the waggon-head form so prevalent in the south-west of England but less commonly met with in this county. This fifteenth century work is bold and massive, and it must have been no slight task in those days to get up to Imber the large quoin and bonding stones which may be seen on the outside. Owing to the peculiar treatment of the turret staircase the tower has five corners, and although it has lost a pinnacle it can still claim to possess the same number of pinnacles as many other towers which have been less unfortunate. It will be seen that the staircase is fair with the east face of the main body of the tower, and is treated as an integral part of it, the parapet and cornice being carried all round.
It is possible that, either during his lifetime, or at his death,, the knight, whose effigy lies under the beautiful recessed tomb in the south aisle, was a benefactor to the Church at this time, and the piscina adjoining the tomb indicates a chantry founded for his benefit. There is a recumbent effigy of a second warrior under the last bay of the south nave arcade, his head resting on a cushion supported by angels and his feet upon a lion. His shield bears the three lions rampant, but I believe his identity has not yet been established. [Heralds Visitation, 1620, mentions Rous of -------- (Imber) three lions rampant. (Hereford 44.)] There are a few bits of old glass in the windows of the south aisle and tower, the most noticeable being a representation of our Lord's head, with nimbus, in the upper part of the east window of the chapel at the end of the aisle.
This Church is unusually rich in post-Reformation oak work. The pews and pulpit in the nave and the two benches and two chairs in the chancel are good examples of the earlier work of the seventeenth century. There is a characteristic oval window in the south Wall of the aisle-inserted, probably, to light the squire's pew - an interesting relic of the early Georgian era, which should be retained in any restoration, as a mark of history : it will become increasingly valuable as time goes on. The chancel and vestry were erected in 1849, and there is no record of what the old chancel was. The only remains of it are the two carved label terminals, representing a king and a bishop, to be seen inside the vestry.