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North Newnton

Church of St. James, North Newnton

Church of St. James, North Newnton Date Photo Taken 2013
Uploaded 14/01/2015 16:43:28
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Map Latitude 51.317995306271946 : Longitude -1.8142180144786835
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

The 15th century tower with floor beams penetrating the walls.

From 934 showed that North Newnton was held by the abbess of Wilton, who is most likely to have built the first church here. In 1291, the church of North Newnton had the church of West Knoyle annexed as a chapelry. A few years later in 1299 the church was attested to the convent church of Wilton as a prebend [A prebend is an allowance paid by a cathedral or collegiate church to a member of its clergy, or the property or tithe that is the source of this allowance].

Income was raised from the tithes and glebe [A glebe is an area of land used to support a clergyman] of the parish of North Newnton, the tithes and glebe of West Knoyle, and the tithes of land held by the abbess of Wilton in Hanging Langford in Steeple Langford. The value of the endowment was £9 6s. 8d. - excluding Knoyle and Longford.

In 1308, the first record of the cure of the parish being served by a vicar exists. Several hundred years later, in 1869 the vicarage and prebend were united by an 'Order in Council' of 1841. The benefice once again became a rectory and was held in plurality with the vicarage of Wilsford with Charlton from 1946 - 1956 when it was united with it. West Knoyle was disunited from North Newnton in 1841. The patronage of the united benefice is shared between the dean and chapter of Christ Church, Oxford, and the master of St Nicholas Hospital, Salisbury

The value of the prebend was reduced by the endowment of the vicarage. Its net value was assessed at £2 15s. 0d in 1535. After the Dissolution, successive earls of Pembroke made it a condition of their presentation that prebendaries leased the whole prebendal estate back to them. For this the prebendaries received a pension of £9 a year from West Knoyle but nothing from North Newnton.

In the 16th century the prebendary was entitled to tithes of corn and hay from the whole parish of Newnton. In 1567 the prebendal glebe comprised a house, a barn, 20 acres of arable, an acre of meadow, and feeding for 30 sheep and 6 other animals. The house was mentioned in 1709 but nothing more is known of it.

In the later 18th century the vicar allowed his curate to take his tithes. The vicar had no more than half an acre of glebe, but received an acre of wheat from the demesne farm to pay for the holy oil. The wheat was valued at 20 shillings in 1705, but the payment was presumably merged with the payment made to the vicar by the tenants of Cuttenham Farm in place of tithes.

In the 18th and early 19th centuries the non-resident vicars were nearly all relatives of the prebendaries from whose sub-lessees they received a pension. The cure was served by curates either allowed to the vicarial tithes or paid a stipend by the vicar.

Architecture of the church

The present structure, the church of St. James, dates from the 13th century. The church is made up of flint rubble, brick and ashlar, and consists of chancel, and north vestry, nave and south porch, and west tower. It was built in 1291 and the dedication to St. James is first recorded in 1442. In the 14th century the nave was rebuilt, and a south porch added. The tower dates from the 15th century. Around 1862 the nave and chancel were largely rebuilt. Together they represent the figure of Christ on the Cross.

There were two bells, one remains but the other was recast in 1606. Two more bells were added in 1616 to make a peal of four. More recently the belfry was in poor condition (1928). The 1950s saw the church being restored, and a new organ was added in 1977 to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee. The restoration of the church involved several different aspects, including re-implementation of the processional cross (1958), new candlesticks (1959), and extensive repairs such as the consolidation of the belfry, and repair of defective walls (1959). The church has recently undergone more restoration in 2006, which corrected issues with the tower, plastering, gutters and walls.

The church had no plate in 1553. By 1576 it possessed a silver cup, a silver plate, and two wine vessels. In 1854 the old plate was given in part payment for new plate consisting of two chalices, a paten, a flagon, and an alms-dish, all in the parish in 1971. Registers of baptisms and burials from 1757 and marriages from 1755, other than those in current use at the church, are held in the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre at Chippenham. The interior of the church features much intricate detail, such as the pulpit and the stone steps which lead up to it, which dates from the 19th century.

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