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Church of St. Andrew, Durnford

Church of St. Andrew, Durnford Date Photo Taken 2013
Uploaded 24/10/2014 16:20:24
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Map Latitude 51.14397050214302 : Longitude -1.8062961101531982
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

Nave north wall window with reset 15th century stained glass depicting a bishop.

The church is a remarkable survival in that it dates from the late 12th to the 16th century with no major 19th century restoration and much of what we see is Norman or 13th century work.
The earliest remaining part is the nave, which was built soon after the conquest and was partially reconstructed before the year 1125. The chancel was added about 1200 and the tower in the 13th century, although Pevsner feels that the two round windows could indicate an earlier date. The north and south porches are 15th or 16th century, but the north one has been rebuilt.

Standing by the Norman font, facing the altar, you can observe all the early Norman features: the chancel arch, the doorways, north and south, and to the right of the latter traces of one of the original windows, which is filled in and blocked outside by an early Norman buttress. This shows that the work of strengthening the south wall which had begun to bend outwards under the strain of the roof was done in Norman times. It has remained effective.

The pews are 15th and 16th century mainly of oak, with panelled ends, apart from a set of simpler medieval pews at the back of the church.
There are good remains of medieval wall paintings including the lower part of a St. Christopher with the figure of a boy painted in the left lower corner. Over the south door and near it is a pattern of scroll like stems with fruit leaves. Another, either a Doom or Rood painting, is over the chancel arch but its condition makes it very difficult to identify.
The stained glass near to the stair to the vanished rood loft is probably 15th century and has a nearly complete crucifixion and figure of a bishop.

Much of the furniture is 17th century. The altar rails are a good example of the Laudian period. The pulpit is dated 1619 and has an unidentified coat of arms; it stood formerly against the south wall. The Cromwellian pulpit hanging and cushion carry the embroidered date 1657. The lectern is a good example of a 17th century revolving desk. A chained book, a 1571 edition of Bishop Jewell's "apology", which had been there for 400 years, was stolen in 1970s. The fine 17th century brass is of the Younge family.
The five bells were re-hung in 1903. The oldest, number four, is a pre-Reformation Angelus bell, which could potentially be from a monastery. In order of date, the inscriptions are:
4. Av Gracia Plena, c.1400
5. Honor the King I W 1614
3. William Munde, Thomas Waters, Churchwardens 1656
1. and 2. EH: WH: TW: IF: 1657
The Durnford vicarage was described in the terriers as being in a terrible state when the Rev. John Talman came in 1728, and he rebuilt the vicarage on the same site. There is a note in the register dated 1750. "It consists of five Saishes in front, 2 Parlers, 2 chambers, 2 Garretts and a very good staircase." There were additions in the early 19th century and early 20th. The vicarage became redundant, and was sold in 1975.

The best known of the early vicars of Durnford is Edward Holland, whose institution date is unknown, but is between 1632 and 1640. He stayed till 1673, thus surviving the Puritan ejections. It's suspected that much of the good 17th century furniture in the church is due to him and to the Younge family. They suffered exile in the royalist cause and so might be credited with the royal coat of arms.

Holland's successor, Samuel Squire, vicar for 50 years, appeared as witness on mortgages and on deeds of houses. There is some evidence that he didn't live in the vicarage, which was ruinous after his death, but in a fairly grand house somewhere along the river under Coles Hill. His son was vicar of Woodford and Wilsford 1722 to 1759, but also vicar of Poulshot. There is no evidence that he regularly lived or worked here, his name only appearing in the registers briefly, but he is buried in Durnford church.

The 19th century saw the long tenures of the Rev. John Hinxman at Durnford 1849 to 1897 who must have given stability during the period of great rural hardship.

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