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Wiltshire Community History

Church of St. James, Cherhill

Built in the 12th century, St James' Church has been recognised as the main church in Cherhill for around 900 years. The church, which was dedicated to St James in 1405, consists of a chancel and nave dating back to the 12th century, as well as a south aisle, south porch, west tower and north vestry. The aisle and tower were added in the late 15th to early 16th century and an east window was added in the early 18th century. A Gothick west gallery was added in 1840 and the church was restored in 1863 to designs by S.B.Gabriel by Mullings of Devizes who charged £62 for the chancel roof and £550 for other services. The church was later reopened on the 22nd November 1863.

A number of registers from the church still survive today. Registers of baptisms survive from 1690, registers of marriages from 1709 and registers of burials from 1708. Apart from registers currently in use at the church these are held in the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre at Chippenham.

The church contains three bells, one of which was cast in Bristol in 1450. The treble bell was replaced in 1619 by a bell cast by Richard or Roger Purdue. In 1641 the tenor bell was replaced by a bell cast at Warminster by John Lott and recast at Whitechapel in 1987.

Records of the patronage of the church still survive. In 1220 the prebendary of Calne provided services. This obligation was passed to the treasurer of Salisbury cathedral who carried this obligation until 1227. From the 15th century onwards chaplain and curates were appointed by the treasurer. The patronage of the church passed to the bishop in 1841 under the Cathedrals Act and the bishop nominated curates from 1842 onwards. In 1882 the patronage passed to the executors of Wadham-Wyndham, a wealthy family originating in Wiltshire. In 1889 it was passed down to Ellen King-Wyndham and then to Caroline-Pleydell-Bouverie-Campbell-Wyndham in 1908. Along with Mary-Campbell-Wyndham, Caroline remained a patron until 1973 when the rectory was united to other benefices to form Oldbury benefice, comprising Yatesbury, Compton Bassett, Heddington, Calstone Wellington and Cherhill.

Services have been held fairly regularly in St James' Church since the 12th century. However, in the 1560s services began to become unorganised. The services were not convenient to the parishioners as the curate also served Compton Bassett, there were no quarterly sermons and the church has no copy of Erasmus's Paraphrases. In the early 17th century services remained irregular and church wardens complained of the books in church being defective. In the 1760s there was only one service every Sunday. However, the church began to become more widely used in the mid-19th century. On census Sunday in 1851, 72 people attended the morning service and 125 in the afternoon. By 1861 services were running regularly every Sunday. The morning service was held at 10.30 and the afternoon service at 2.30, with additional services during Advent and Lent. These additional services were on Wednesday and Fridays and were organised by the rector of the church during the mid-19th century, William Plenderleath. Plenderleath suggests that morning services were always less popular, attracting 70-80 visitors. Afternoon services tended to serve around 90-100 people, although Plenderleath admits that this number was less on rainy days.

Church Search Results

There were 10 items found.

Church of St. James, Cherhill
Church of St. James, Cherhill

Image Date: 2009
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre


Church of St. James, Cherhill
Church of St. James, Cherhill

Image Date: 2009
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre


Church of St. James, Cherhill
Church of St. James, Cherhill

Image Date: 2009
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre


Church of St. James, Cherhill
Church of St. James, Cherhill

Image Date: 2009
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre


Church of St. James, Cherhill
Church of St. James, Cherhill

Image Date: 2009
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre


Church of St. James, Cherhill
Church of St. James, Cherhill

Image Date: 2009
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre


Church of St. James, Cherhill
Church of St. James, Cherhill

Image Date: 2009
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre


Church of St. James, Cherhill
Church of St. James, Cherhill

Image Date: 2009
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre


Church of St. James, Cherhill
Church of St. James, Cherhill

Image Date: 2009
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre


Church of St. James, Cherhill
Church of St. James, Cherhill

Image Date: 2009
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre


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