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Church of St. Swithin, Patney

Church of St. Swithin, Patney Date Photo Taken 2014
Uploaded 04/12/2014 13:40:50
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Map Latitude 51.32465840877251 : Longitude -1.8985909223556519
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

Church from the south east.

The church at Patney is first recorded in the 12th century when it belonged to the prior and monks of St. Swithin's in Winchester. The bishops presented the rectors until the 19th century, apart from 1280 and 1639 when the King presented and 1573, when Henry, Earl of Pembroke presented. In 1869 the right was transferred to Oxford and then in 1953 to the Bishop of Salisbury. The rectory was held with the united benefice of Chirton with Marden from 1951 and united with it in 1963. Charlton and Wilsford were also added to this benefice in 1976. Since the closure of the church in 1992 Patney residents have worshipped at Chirton church.

In 1291 the church was valued at £5 and by 1553 valued at £19; this represented all of the tithes of Patney and also included some land in All Cannings. At the time of inclosure in 1780 the rector was allocated 15 acres to replace his glebe land and 112 acres to replace his tithes. This estate was called Rectory Farm and the net yearly income in the early 1830s was £225. In 1928 the farm was let to H.W.H. Snook who died in 1975 and his son, David Snook then took over the tenancy.

A rectory house is mentioned in 1341, 1608 and 1705, and the property that was standing in 1829 was demolished and a new house built on the same site, south of the church, in 1833 by William Dyer of Alton in Hampshire. This was let as Rectory Farm c.1949 and used as a farmhouse. It has a distinct clock on the east wall facing the road, installed by a former rector, and has the letters 'Patney Rectory' instead of numerals.

The rectors did not normally reside at Patney. John Ilsley who was rector from 1307 to 1318, for example, took leave of absence to study and he later became Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was usual for a deputy to be appointed in such a case. Thomas Romsey, rector from 1401 to 1405, was head master of Winchester College; Geoffrey Bigge, rector from 1593 to 1631 was master of St. Thomas's Hospital in Salisbury, and James Wedderburn, rector from 1631 to 1639 was bishop of Dunblane and helped to compile the 1637 prayer book.

In 1783 services were held alternate mornings and evenings on Sundays and included sermons. There were no services on weekdays. Holy Communion was only celebrated at Christmas, Easter and Whitsun. On Census Sunday in 1851, 65 people attended the morning service and 70 the afternoon service. In 1864 two Sunday services were held averaging 30 people in the morning and 45 in the afternoon. Only 8 people took communion that year.

The church building is located west of the village and is built of rubble stone with freestone dressings; it consists of a chancel, nave, north vestry, south porch and bellcot. The late 13th century church had windows with grouped cusped lancets. The building was partly rebuilt from 1876 to 1878, and restored to the original by Henry Weaver of Devizes. The west gallery was removed, the north vestry was added and the interior was refitted. The 12th century font with Jacobean carved bower at the base was retained, as was the 14th century piscina. The 17th century pulpit was moved from the south east to the north east corner. The chancel arch was taken down and a new one erected and an ancient stone coffin with no lids or remains was discovered on the north side of the altar. A licence was awarded to perform divine service in the schoolroom while this restoration was undertaken. The final cost of the restoration was £1,240 and the church was re-opened in February 1878.
The altar table was made of oak from the timbers of a former reredos with a slab of Kilkenny marble. The slab of the former table is fixed to the back of the frame.
In 1553, 3oz. of plate were taken and a chalice of 10oz. was left for the use of the parish. In 1976 the plate consisted of this chalice of 1706, a paten of 1722, a flagon of 1766 and a plated alms dish; all of these had been presented by Miss Lewis of Wedhampton in Urchfont. There were 2 bells in 1553. In 1980 these were described as a treble (smaller) bell inscribed with a simple cross and 's' shaped mark dating from the 15th century and a larger tenor bell beautifully cast dating from the 14th century, 'both are excellent in tone and tuning'. The small bell, known as the parson's bell is probably 18th century. Parish registers can be viewed at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre in Chippenham and date from 1592 to 1990 with some gaps.

The Parish AGM of April 1992 was the last held at Patney. The church was taken over by the redundant churches commission on April 1st 1992. A short service of thanksgiving was held outside the church building and a procession then walked to Chirton. At the bridge the procession was greeted by the churchwardens and congregation from Chirton, and the group then walked together to Chirton church describing this as a symbolic act of unity. Newspaper reports of the time say the church had to close because essential repairs were more than the tiny congregation could afford.
The church is now in use as a residence. Planning consent was granted in 1996 for conversion of the church to a house, and archaeological reports at this time show evidence of 13th and 14th century burials. Removal of a window allowed the painted glass, dedicated to the memory of Matilda Lewis (1802-1873) to be re-used on site. Other family members are commemorated on a slab on the nave floor as well as on a marble plaque to the west of the window. A separate modern graveyard remains.

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