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Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Woodborough

Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Woodborough Date Photo Taken 1869
Uploaded 20/12/2012 14:14:05
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Map Latitude 51.33982739421743 : Longitude -1.838175505399704
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

Pen and Ink Drawing of the pre-1850 Church.

The Church of St. Mary Magdalene is an located on the northern periphery of Woodborough village, and along with Manningford Bohune is part of the diocese of Salisbury. The church today is a product of the 19th century, but there is proof that two previous churches have existed on the site, the first during the reign of Richard I. The registers (other than those in current use these are available at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre in Chippenham) date from 1567 and, apart from a gap of a few years after 1660, are complete.

The present church was built in 1850 by William Butterfield from snecked squared limestone, although the nave with its tiled roof was added by T. H. Wyatt in 1861-2. The chancel has a stone slate roof as well as a lean-to vestry and organ recess. The gabled porch is south-facing with quatrefoiled lights at the side, while the bellcote is positioned over the west gable, carried on a series of offsets on the wall. Previously there was no bellcote, only a wooden tower. There are two distinct window types; two, three and four square headed windows to the nave, and a two light west window with a roundel above, as well as a three light east window with slender tracery.

An account book from the early 1900s describes later alterations; the first being the replacement of the southern part of the main roof which was re-laid with felt in 1920. The northern aisle was also restored and the end wall rebuilt. The work was carried out by Mr Blackford of Calne and G. Stratton of Woodborough, and amounted to £264 15s 10d. The Diocesan Board of Finance paid £20, and White Bequest £50 but the rest was raised by the parish.

The church interior is relatively modern with few remnants of its ancient past. The stained-glass windows hold particular attraction with their simple but bold design, and may be a product of the Arts and Crafts movement. There is an arcaded altar rail and a striking tiled wall behind. The organ by Bryceson Bros. and Ellis is located in the north aisle and is painted with a plain but attractive design. The limestone octagonal font with its quatrefoil panels was made with the church itself in the 1850s. The chancel has two bays with a trussed rafter roof, with the royal arms of Charles II, from the previous church, hung over its chamfered pointed arch. There is an ogee-headed door to the vestry and a limestone pulpit leading to the chancel.

Record books from the early 20th century describe further interior decoration. In 1917 a blue sanctuary carpet was laid, and two dozen footstools donated. In 1923 two new stoves were fitted by the London Warming Company costing £45, although the cost was again shared as the White Bequest paid £10, the Diocesan Building Centre £5 and the parish the remaining sum. In 1924 the old church piano was sold to Prince & Son of Devizes, and a new one purchased from Mrs Harry of Stockham for £15. An oak pulpit rail, described in English Heritage Listed Buildings, was presented as a thanks offering in 1946, while in 1962 a visitors' book and small covered oak table were given by Arnold Waite and his family.

The monuments adorning the inside of St. Mary Magdalene church consist of seven wall tablets; including one from 1675 to Sarah Francklyn, and another from 1840 to William Robbins and family. In the chancel there is also a Latin inscription from 1813 by King of Bath to George Gibbs.

Church accounts are available from 1756, when 3s 2d monthly was usually spent on bread and wine, with the six church wardens receiving 5s 4d, rising to 6s 2d in 1838. There is also mention of fees of court which cost 2s 6d, as well as new Bibles and prayer books costing a total of £5 15s 6d, register books and parchment sheets amounting to £1 6s 3d. In 1764 the Church account book recorded Thomas More and Benjamin Hayward marking the rate the parishioners had to pay towards the church at 3 pence for the pound. Most money was paid by William Moore, the farmer, who gave 15s 4d per year, while other villagers paid between 6d and 11s 9d. Although these figures are recorded prior to the redevelopment of the church, it is likely similar figures would have been seen following the building work. In 1850 the pews had numbers painted on them, suggesting that the parishioners had to pay the church for use of their pew, an ecclesiastical custom often seen during this period.

There were several changes made to the church design during its rebuilding in the 1850s. In the 12th century it consisted of a nave and chancel, and in the 1200s a new west window was inserted. In the 14th century new north and south windows were placed in the nave and the bell-house on the nave roof was likely added, preceding the reroofing of the nave roof in the 1400s. In 1850, however, the bell-house was replaced by a bellcot, in addition to the rebuilding of the chancel in 13th century style. A new nave and aisle were designed and built in 14th century style as well as a new vestry, organ chamber, and south porch (replacing that built in the 1700s). Two bells existed in 1553, but were replaced by one from London in 1849, which is still in the church. Additionally, an 8 oz chalice was replaced by a new one in 1849, and the plate added to with a paten of 1850, a flagon of 1851 and three alms-basins.

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