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Church of St. John the Baptist, Chirton

Church of St. John the Baptist, Chirton Date Photo Taken 2013
Uploaded 30/10/2014 17:04:35
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Map Latitude 51.31779078819346 : Longitude -1.8960897624492645
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

1850 stained glass window to the Warriner family of Conock.

Documentary evidence indicates that there was a church here by the early 12th century and the existing nave and chancel, with priest's door, are basically 12th century. The existence of aisles and the surviving decoration, such as the south doorway, suggest that this was a medieval church of some quality. It is most likely to have been rebuilt, or extensively altered, after its acquisition by Llanthony Priory in 1167. New windows were built in the chancel in the 13th century while in the 14th century the aisles were rebuilt and made wider internally to accommodate more people. In the 15th century the present tower was built and the south porch added. The porch contains some interesting fragments of 15th century stained glass.

Little seems to have been done in the 16th century but in 1630 repairs to the nave and chancel were made and a new window inserted in the south wall of the chancel. A major restoration by James Dutch took place in 1850 when the vestry was added. The basic shape of the church remained unchanged but the restoration was very severe on the earlier architectural details. An embattled parapet on the south aisle was removed and the tracery in all the windows of the nave and chancel was redesigned, while the shape of some of the window openings was altered. Most of the church furnishings were renewed but fortunately the 12th century drum font has survived. This has carvings of the 12 apostles, beneath arcades, around it.

The coat of arms of George III hangs above the chamfered round chancel arch while, beyond the 15th century tower arch, there are five hatchments of the Ernle, Yerbury and Warriner families in the lower part of the tower. Higher in the tower hang six bells. Five are by W. & R. Cor of Aldbourne and were hung in 1709 while the sixth was added in 1959.

There was a vicarage here from 1216 which, in 1923, was united with Marden. The living was combined with Patney in 1963 and in 1989 was known as Redhorn. The parish registers (from 1579 for baptisms and 1588 for marriages and burials) for Chirton, other than those in current use, are held in the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre at Chippenham.

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