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Berwick Bassett

Church of St. Nicholas, Berwick Bassett

Church of St. Nicholas, Berwick Bassett Date Photo Taken 2012
Uploaded 15/02/2013 22:13:35
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Map Latitude 51.4607220967089 : Longitude -1.8595218658447266
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

Tower and 19th Century Tower Porch.

The parish church of Berwick Bassett, dedicated to St. Nicholas by 1331, was built between c.1199 and 1221. The prebendary of Calne, who owned the tithes in the parish, may have been responsible for the building of the church. Prior to this date the inhabitants of Berwick Bassett attended the church at Winterbourne Bassett. By the 15th century and probably earlier, they had rights of baptism, marriage and burial at St. Nicholas church.

In 1783 a curate living at Wroughton served Berwick Bassett, Broad Hinton and Wroughton churches. Eighty years later, in 1864 two services were held each Sunday, with additional services on the principal days of the liturgical calendar.

In 1970 Berwick Bassett parish united with those of Avebury and Winterbourne Monkton as the Avebury benefice; this in turn merged with other parishes in 1975 to form part of the Upper Kennet benefice. The church of St. Nicholas itself was declared redundant in 1973 and is now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.

The church is of rubble and red brick construction and consists of a chancel and a nave with a south porch surmounted by a tower. The chancel dates from the 13th century, although alterations and partial rebuilding in the 18th and 19th centuries have masked most early features. The nave was rebuilt in the 14th century and windows were added in the 15th century. In the 18th century the porch and tower were built primarily in wood. Restoration of the church took place by T.H. Wyatt in 1857; this included rebuilding parts of the nave and chancel walls. In addition a new chancel arch was built, the tower reconstructed in stone and a vestry was built on the north side of the chancel. The vestry had been removed by 1994.

In 1553 there were three bells in the church. In 2012 three bells dated 1605, 1663 and 1694 remain in the tower.

Internally, the church contains a 13th century font and a 15th century rood screen. On the north wall of the nave a tablet memorialises the establishment of an educational charity by Henry Webb, who died in 1776.

Parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials survive with intermittent gaps from 1674 to 1956 for marriages, and to 1970 for baptisms and burials. Bishops Transcripts have survived from an earlier date, 1580, although also with intermittent gaps. All are at held at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre in Chippenham and may be consulted there.

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