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Broad Chalke

Church of All Saints, Broad Chalke

Church of All Saints, Broad Chalke Date Photo Taken 2009
Uploaded 09/11/2009 12:29:30
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Map Latitude 51.02740089307078 : Longitude -1.9432282447814941
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

The parish church of All Saints was built c.1280 during the reign of Edward I. It is constructed of limestone ashlar and some rubble, and has a chancel with a north vestry, a central tower with transepts, and a nave with a south porch. Work on the church may have begun as early as 1258, when the keeper of Savernake Forest was ordered to provide the vicar of Chalke with timber for the fabric of his church.

The oldest parts of the church are the chancel, the north transept, and part of the west wall, including the doorway, which date from the late 13th century. It is possible that the nave had aisles at this time. The next building phase took place at the end of the 14th century, when the lower stages of the tower, the south transept, and the porch were built.

By 1550 most of the nave had been rebuilt. It is probable that the aisles were removed and the nave widened to the open plan you see today. The north and south walls were strengthened to carry the roof across the nave's width of 34 feet. The upper stages of the tower were built c.1530.

In the mid 17th century extensive repairs were undertaken, partly due to the efforts of John Aubrey. In his 'Natural History of Wiltshire' he says 'in 1659 Sir George Penruddock and I made ourselves churchwardens, or else the fair church had fallen'. The previous wardens had obviously neglected the fabric of the church, and Aubrey took it upon himself to organise repairs.

In 1846-7 the church was restored by Wyatt and Brandon at a cost of £1,720. Included in the work was a new nave roof, as the existing roof was rotten. Medieval wall paintings, one of St. Christopher on the north wall of the nave, and another of the Taking Down from the Cross, over the west tower arch, were removed. Water-colour drawings were made before the originals were destroyed.

Inside the church, the chancel contains much original work, including the seats for the priest and his assistant. The south transept was a chantry chapel founded by John Alan of Knighton in 1322 and is still known as the Knighton Aisle. The porch has a fine barrel vault roof and was originally in two stories, the upper part being a priest's room. The priest's desk and the pulpit were originally together and like the oak pews date from the 17th century. The font is 15th century.

After re-building, the church was re-opened in May 1847. Morning and evening services were celebrated, and the gentry enjoyed an excellent lunch. In the evening the school children played games and enjoyed tea and cake provided by the vicar and his wife.

This church has been part of a Team Ministry since the 1970s. The parish registers dating from 1538 (Baptisms), 1562 (Marriages) and 1552 (Burials), apart from those currently in use at the church, can be viewed at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre in Chippenham.

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