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Wiltshire Community History

Church of St. Margaret, Corsley

The main church in the village is St. Margaret's, near the former manor house. The only source we have for the old church is a plan in Colt Hoare's Modern Wiltshire. The church consisted of a nave, north aisle, chancel, south porch, and western tower. The tower was probably 15th century, while the nave and north aisle may have been older. In 1636 the parishioners accused Sir Thomas Thynne's family of removing the chancel. His reply was that either there never was one, or that it fell down. A few years later there was a lodge built in Dartford Wood that some said was the church chancel. By 1662 a simple chancel had been added to the church.

Dissenters first worshipped in Corsley in 1769 and soon took a firm hold on the parish. This prompted the Rector of Corsley to offer a second service each Sunday starting in 1784. He hoped that dissent would fade away, but this did not happen. One of the difficulties was the geographical nature of the village. For example, 'church' children would often be sent to Sunday School at the chapel because it was closer to their home. The two churches and two chapels in the village all flourished well into the 20th century.

In 1830 the church was in a poor state of repair and too small for the parish. While the building was in progress, services were held in John Ball's malthouse. The new church
consisted of just a nave and tower. There is no chancel. The pulpit survives from the old church and dates from c.1700. The pews and other furnishings date from 1890, when the church was renovated and altered by F.W. Hunt. At that time the galleries down the sides of the church were taken away.

Corsley no longer has its own resident priest. The parish is part of the Heytesbury deanery, in the Diocese of Salisbury, and is now part of the Cley Hill Team. The parish registers dating from 1686, other than those in current use, can be found in the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre.

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