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Upton Scudamore

Church of Saint Mary, Upton Scudamore

Church of Saint Mary, Upton Scudamore Date Photo Taken 2009
Uploaded 03/09/2009 17:13:06
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Map Latitude 51.22812082773886 : Longitude -2.195197641849518
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

The church of St. Mary the Virgin stands to the south of the village, on the site of a smaller Anglo Saxon church. It is a mixture of dates and styles, the earliest being the Norman surround of the north doorway, which is late 12th century. It is probable that the first building consisted only of a nave and chancel. 'Long and short' quoins in the north wall and the Norman font, pictured here, are surviving examples from this period. In the late 13th or early 14th century a small aisle or chapel of two bays was added north of the nave. The chancel was probably rebuilt in the 15th century. The tower was rebuilt in 1750, when, according to Colt Hoare, the rest of the church was also rebuilt.

In the mid 19th century the church was extensively remodelled in the 13th century style by G.E. Street. The chancel and south wall of the nave were entirely rebuilt. A north porch was added, the west door renewed and an external frame was built on the tower to hold the bell. There were three bells in 1750 but two were sold to pay for church repairs. The remaining one was re-cast in 1882 with two more bells being added.

Inside the church, in the north aisle, are two effigies of knights. They date from the 13th and 14th centuries and are probably members of the Scudamore family. Another item of interest is the Scudamore organ. At the restoration in 1855 the rector found himself unable to afford an organ, and so he designed his own single manual instrument with no pedals. It was built by Nelson Hall, an organ-builder who lived in the village. The case was designed by G.E. Street. This idea was taken up by many other churches due to its cheapness and small size. Hall built organs in churches all over the country.

Several rectors have held a long incumbency at Upton. William Seaman, head of the family holding Park's Farm, held the living from 1628-80. Three generations of the Barry family served successively in the 18th century. Thomas Owen (1779-1812) translated classical works on agriculture into English. John Baron (1850-86) published works on theological and antiquarian subjects. Around 1835 the average income of the church from tithes was £456 (worth nearer a six figure sum today). It was the second richest living in Wiltshire.

In 1967 Upton came under the jurisdiction of the vicar at St. Denys in Warminster. More recently it has become part of The Cley Hill Team in the Heytesbury deanery. The church registers dating from 1654, apart from those currently in use, can be seen at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre in Chippenham.

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