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Great Bedwyn

Church of St. Katherine, Savernake

Church of St. Katherine, Savernake Date Photo Taken 2014
Uploaded 26/01/2015 14:55:36
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Map Latitude 51.382907137225644 : Longitude -1.6392776370048523
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre


Second World War gravestone of a Polish airman.

St. Katherine's is a grade II listed building erected in 1861 by the architect T. H. Wyatt for Mary Caroline Herbert, 2nd Marchioness of Ailesbury. It was reconstructed in 1952 after an ammunitions explosion.

The church was consecrated in 1861 by the Bishop of Salisbury as a second chapel to ease the mother church of Great Bedwyn. It was dedicated to St. Katherine in memory of the Marchioness of Ailesbury's Russian mother, Katherine Woronzoff, Dowager Countess of Pembroke.

The building is constructed of flint with Bath oolite banding and has a tiled roof.
The church consists of a nave and north aisle with the south porch positioned under the steeple. There are two-light windows with foiled roundels in heads and three-light windows to the west. The tower is of three stages with gabled buttresses and a quatrefoiled parapet. The spire is limestone. There are steps to a vault at the east end supported by cast iron railings.

The interior is made up of a five bayed nave, with the north arcade now blocked to form a meeting room. The two east bays are combined into an openwork geometric stone screen. The ceiling is open timber with cusped brackets to the wall shafts and corbels. The chancel is raised by three steps with an arch on elaborate vine leaf corbels and there is an arcaded gallery running from the chancel to the pulpit on the north side. There is a marble communion rail raised by two steps and medieval encaustic tiles throughout.

In 1865 the church school was opened to educate girls up to the age of nine and boys up to the age of eleven. In 1897 there were 45 pupils, rising to 95 in the 20th century. St. Katherine's C of E primary school is still open today.

St. Katherine's suffered bomb damage in 1945 that was caused by an accidental explosion in a nearby ammunitions dump. The roof and stained-glass were destroyed and the north wall was significantly weakened. In 1951 a diocesan committee suggested the entire nave should be demolished, but with restoration work pushed in opposition to this plan the church was reopened after six years of uncertainty on Easter Day 1952. The parish is now held in plurality with Savernake and Great Bedwyn.


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