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Wiltshire Community History

Church of St. Laurence, Downton

The estate of Downton was held by the Bishop of Winchester from at least the late 8th century and so it is likely that there was an early church here. Later this probably had the status of a minster church and locally would have served the Saxon communities of Charlton, Wick, Witherington, Walton, Standlynch and Barford as well as villages farther afield. As this would have been a fair sized church it is possible that it continued to be used until the later 12th century, when a new church seems to have been built. In the nave the three western bays of the arcade date from this time, when the nave appears to have been short but wide. In the early 13th century, when the borough was founded, the church was greatly enlarged by the addition of two eastern bays to the nave, a central tower and transepts, and a larger chancel. This was high quality work and would have both attracted new burgage holders and accommodated them, once they had built houses in the Borough.

In 1295 William Burnell endowed a chantry, the chapel being dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the early 14th century the chancel and transepts were re-modelled and raised to their present height while the aisles may also have been rebuilt during this century. In the 15th century the western doorway was inserted in the nave and some windows were re-modelled. Much work was carried out in the early 17th century, including the reconstruction of the upper part of the tower and tracery in the windows was replaced by mullions. In 1648 the porch was either added or rebuilt. In 1791 the tower was raised 30 feet higher than its present height so that Lord Radnor could see it from his estate. Battlements and pinnacles were also added.

The Victorian restoration occurred in 1859 and the tower was then restored to its former height. Much work was carried out on the chancel which, until this time, had been separated from the nave by a wall, having been used by the Bishops of Winchester as a chapel when visiting Downton. The west gallery of 1734 and the vestry were removed at this time. Outside there is a medieval cross on a raised base to the south east of the porch. The bells were increased from six to eight after the Second World War and include one from the mid 14th century. The parish registers from 1601 (marriages) and 1602 (baptisms and burials), other than those in current use, are held in the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre at Chippenham.

Church Search Results

There were 14 items found.

Church of St. Laurence, Downton
Church of St. Laurence, Downton

Image Date: 1907
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


Church of St. Laurence, Downton
Church of St. Laurence, Downton

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


Church of St. Laurence, Downton
Church of St. Laurence, Downton

Image Date: c.1901
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


Church of St. Laurence, Downton
Church of St. Laurence, Downton

Image Date: 2003
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


Church of St. Laurence, Downton
Church of St. Laurence, Downton

Image Date: 2003
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


Church of St. Laurence, Downton
Church of St. Laurence, Downton

Image Date: 2003
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


Church of St. Laurence, Downton
Church of St. Laurence, Downton

Image Date: 2003
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


Church of St. Laurence, Downton
Church of St. Laurence, Downton

Image Date: 2003
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


Church of St. Laurence, Downton
Church of St. Laurence, Downton

Image Date: 2003
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


Church of St. Laurence, Downton
Church of St. Laurence, Downton

Image Date: 2003
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


Church of St. Laurence, Downton
Church of St. Laurence, Downton

Image Date: 2003
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


Church of St. Laurence, Downton
Church of St. Laurence, Downton

Image Date: 2003
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


Church of St. Laurence, Downton
Church of St. Laurence, Downton

Image Date: 2003
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


Church of St. Laurence, Downton
Church of St. Laurence, Downton

Image Date: 2003
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


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