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Church of All Saints, Alton Priors

Church of All Saints, Alton Priors Date Photo Taken c.1970
Uploaded 09/01/2013 16:22:03
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Map Latitude 51.358033099722725 : Longitude -1.8447911739349365
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

The present Church of All Saints is of more recent construction than that of St. Mary's at Alton Barnes; the original was a chapelry of the church at West Overton and was served from there. In 1291 the church was assessed for taxation at £6 13s. 4d. The vicarage in 1534 was worth £20 and the vicar then received a pension of £1 18s. 9d from the appropriated rectory. For a short time in the 17th century the two congregations of Alton Priors and Alton Barnes were united but were separated in 1660 because the Rev. Wills who became curate of Alton Priors in 1656 was ejected. Once again, the two Altons were briefly united from 1829 to 1833 when Augustus Hare, rector of Alton Barnes, unofficially served the chapelry. The separation continued until 1913 when the rectory was united with the chapelry of Alton Barnes. In 1977 £34 had been paid yearly to the hospital from Alton Priors since the 19th century.

The Church of All Saints is built of freestone, rubble and red brick, having a chancel, nave and west tower. The original church was 12th century and the chancel arch survives from this church. In the 14th century the nave was rebuilt and widened towards the south. In the late 15th or early 16th century the tower was added, while around the same time the chancel was reconstructed and a rood stair put in the north wall of the nave, Both nave and chancel roofs were renewed in the later 18th century; the chancel walls were refaced with brick in the early 19th century and the nave walls restored later in that century. Further restoration of the building took place in c.1960 and c.1976.

The limestone and octagonal font dates from the 19th century, and the chancel arch with beaded moulded imposts from the 12th century. The two tablets in the nave date from the 18th century. The late 17th century saw the oak baluster rails installed. The screen on the tower arch dates from the 20th century and in the sanctuary is a limestone chest tomb of 1590, against the north wall. The brass in the floor is from 1528 and on the south wall a white marble tablet with a small crest dates from 1769. On inventory rolls of 1553 the absence of bells is recorded at Alton Priors, a likely indication of the deprivation exacted on the chantries, colleges and gilds by the Commissioners of Edward VI, but in a recent history of Fyfield's chapel mention is made of the transference at sometime of one of their three bell to the empty tower of All Saints. This bell, probably the undated one, now hangs with those of 1709 and 1936 whilst Fyfield still lacks a replacement.

The church was declared redundant in 1973 and was taken into the care of the Redundant Churches Fund in 1977. The parish registers from 1702-52 and from 1813 (baptisms), and from 1702-59 and from 1759 (marriages) and from 1664 (burials) are held in the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre at Chippenham. Records of earlier baptisms and marriages from 1682 are in the registers of Fyfield parish church, also held at the History Centre.

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