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Wiltshire Community History

Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington

In 968, King Edgar gave his estate at Edington to the house of Benedictine nuns at Romsey Abbey in Hampshire. They held it until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539. The date of the first church at Edington is thought to be before the Conquest. Remains dating from the Norman period were found during 19th century restoration, but no documentary evidence exists before 1225.

A chantry, the endowment of priests to say masses for the dead, was established in 1351, thanks to the wealth of William of Edington. Land was purchased to form the foundation of the chantry and this became profitable. The antiquarian, John Leland, records the first stone being laid on 3rd July 1352, and the church was consecrated by the Bishop of Salisbury in 1361.

This was then changed into a regular religious house in 1358, under the rule of St. Augustine, and the inmates were known as the rector and brethren of the convent, conventual house or monastery of Edington. A royal foundation charter was granted to the new house and more property was provided by William of Edington, including money in his will for the rector and brothers. Other benefactors also left property. The original cartulary is in the British Museum.

In 1382 there were 18 brothers, dropping to 13 by 1539. Visitors in 1463 included William Wey, who stayed there to write an account of his journeys to the Holy Land.
The dissolution in 1539 resulted in the land going to the King, and then in 1541 it was granted to Thomas Seymour by Henry VIII. After his execution in 1549, the lands reverted back to the King and a survey of the time mentions that the property was 'not yet defaced'. By 1551, the whole was leased to William Paulet, Earl of Wiltshire and was sold to Joshua Smith of Erlestoke Park, later going to the Watson-Taylor family.
Joshua Smith pulled down most of the original house, and the remains can be seen north of the churchyard.

The survival of the church after the dissolution of the monasteries was due to the adjoining house being occupied by the tithe owners, who kept the church in good repair; this was unusual in a place with such a small population. By the 18th century, the churchwardens mention areas of disrepair, such as the windows, leaded details and the pews, but all was in good condition by 1810.

By 1857, a description of the interior suggests that restoration was required, which was carried out between 1887 and 1891, under the instruction of the architect C.E. Ponting. The cost at this time was £7,000. Many post reformation details were retained such as the marble floors and plaster ceilings. More recent restoration was carried out between 1954 -1968, costing £35,000.

The church was built for the double purpose of monastery and parish. It is Perpendicular in style, cruciform in plan, with choir and transepts, aisled nave, a central tower and a south porch of three storeys. The monastic buildings, which have completely disappeared, lay to the north, and the north aisle formed one side of the cloister. The total internal length is 154 feet and the width across the transepts is 71 feet 8 inches. The central tower is 67 feet high, to the top of the parapet. The cloister and conventual buildings have disappeared, but the stone ornament in the chancel and transepts, and the stained glass in the north clerestory, north aisle and north transept have survived.

The south transept was furnished as the chapel of St. George, and contains the war memorials and British Legion Standards. The chancel is entered through a restored pulpitum or double screen dating from c.1500. Originally there would have been solid panels behind the tracery, thereby closing off the monastic part of the church from the nave. The chancel is decorated with care, and is described by Nikolaus Pevsner as 'an exquisite composition, not over-decorated yet of the finest craftsmanship in the manifold but subdued enrichments.' The east window is flanked by niches, which would have originally contained statues, two of which survive, albeit in a damaged state. The ceiling probably dates from 1792, when repair work was undertaken, and has thin ribs in a gothic pattern, replacing an earlier open timbered roof. The altar rail dates from the first half of the 17th century, and has alternating flat balustrades, with spiked tops. Beneath the chancel is the vault of the Watson-Taylor family, converted into a vestry and reached from the outside.

The north transept, the Lady Chapel in monastic times, has the original roof of king post and tie beam construction, but with a later ceiling dating from 1663. The east and west windows have original stained glass, depicting a crucifixion in the east window and angels with part of an organ and lute in the west window.

The north aisle houses the vestry and the organ, and the western bay houses the baptistery. The font has a medieval stem and a wooden cover dating from 1626. The altar from St. Giles' church in Imber, stands at the east end of the aisle.
The nave altar dates from 1891 and the roof over the nave is also king post and tie-beam construction. The main parts of the pulpit and tester date from the 17th century, with 19th century restoration responsible for the elegant staircase and balusters. The windows contain more 14th century glass depicting figures of saints. The west doors were replaced in the 19th century but the original door furniture remains.

The tower is reached by climbing a staircase at the south west corner of the church and walking along the roof. The bells were originally rung from the crossing, but this was altered by raising the ancient bellframe and forming a ringing chamber at the bottom of the tower. This proved unstable and ringing was stopped in 1967. At that time there were six bells. The peal was then increased to ten, adding in five bells from Imber, and replacing the old bellframe with a new metal one, incorporating a steel structure. One of the Edington bells was used as a spare bell for the clock.

The parish registers date from 1678 (burials) and 1695 (baptisms and marriages) and apart from those in current use are held at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham. A church wardens account book covers 1577-1625, and there are a number of other documents relating to the church, including four volumes of the records of the overseers of the poor, dating from 1806-1827.

The church plate consists of a chalice and paten, hall-marked 1738, a silver and pewter flagon and two pewter plates. The Imber plate includes a chalice of 1576, a paten of 1680, a silver plated 18th century flagon and a silver dish of an unknown date. The church contains two stone effigies of knights dating from the 14th century. These came from the church of St. Giles in Imber, along with other artefacts, after Imber was amalgamated into the parish of Edington in 1943.

There are a number of tombs and monuments including an effigy of a Bonhomme, his head resting on a cushion and his feet on a barrel, the Cheney tomb of c.1400 with details of heraldry and, perhaps the most impressive, the monument to Lady Beauchamp and her husband, Sir Edward Lewys. They lived in the Priory house, north of the church, and she died in 1664.

Church Search Results

There were 16 items found.

Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington
Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington

Image Date: c.1910
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre


Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington
Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington

Image Date: 1930s
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre


Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington
Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington

Image Date: 1930s
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre


Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington
Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington

Image Date: c.1908
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre


Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington
Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington

Image Date: c.1880s
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre


Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington
Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington

Image Date: 1929
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre


Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington
Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington

Image Date: 2011
Image Location: Michael Marshman


Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington
Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington

Image Date: 2011
Image Location: Michael Marshman


Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington
Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington

Image Date: 2011
Image Location: Michael Marshman


Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington
Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington

Image Date: 2011
Image Location: Michael Marshman


Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington
Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington

Image Date: 2011
Image Location: Michael Marshman


Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington
Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington

Image Date: 2011
Image Location: Michael Marshman


Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington
Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington

Image Date: 2011
Image Location: Michael Marshman


Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington
Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington

Image Date: 2011
Image Location: Michael Marshman


Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington
Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington

Image Date: 2011
Image Location: Michael Marshman


Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington
Priory Church of St. Mary, St. Katherine and All Saints, Edington

Image Date: 2011
Image Location: Michael Marshman


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