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Sutton Benger

Church of All Saints, Sutton Benger

Church of All Saints, Sutton Benger Date Photo Taken 2007
Uploaded 11/02/2015 13:57:27
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Map Latitude 51.5073518323314 : Longitude -2.0775023102760315
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

Green man on a corbel in the south aisle. There is some dispute as to the age; the original is likely to have been of c.1300 but was possibly recut in the restoration of 1851. There are other representations on the outside walls of the church.

The church can be found at the junction of High Street and Seagry Road. Early records indicate that there was a Saxon church in the village and there has certainly been a church on this site since the 12th century; it was dedicated to St. Leonard before the 17th century. Both the Malmesbury abbots and the Bishop of Sarum had interests in the Church until 1265 when the Bishop of Sarum became patron and controlled the glebe lands. Malmesbury Abbey possessed the vineyards and some properties in the parish until the dissolution of the Monasteries in 1540.

The church has been graded 2* because of its varying architectural styles. The chancel and nave are thirteenth century. The south aisle was added in the 14th century and made of rough stone with pointed windows. The north wall has smooth dressed stone (possibly robbed from the defunct Bradenstoke Priory) and flat headed windows, and the pinnacled tower was a 15th century addition. The church porch and vestry were added in the mid sixteenth century in dressed stone, which may also have come from Bradenstoke Priors or another nearby closed religious house. A corbel engraving of a pagan 'green man' is visible in the south aisle and is 'of remarkable size and quality'. It is dated as being of late thirteenth century but may have been re-fashioned during the 1851 renovations.

The church and its relics have been partially destroyed over the years; the statues and relics by the Puritans in the late sixteenth and mid seventeenth centuries, and the niches and stained glass were destroyed by the Parliamentarian's horses during the Civil War. The Reverend Thomas Marsh modernised the church in 1836-1862 and the work was undertaken by John H. Hakewill. This included floor repairs and extra free seating for 135 people, along with a new lynch gate. Nikolaus Pevsner called the church 'cruelly restored in 1851'. In the 1890s improvements to the fabric and decoration of the church began. In the early 20th century the bells were re-hung and a new gate was added. Other later work included roof repairs and lime washing the interior, including the font.

The vicarage next to the church was established in the mid to late thirteenth century. Manor farmhouse also had a small chapel on the first floor of the east wing at this time with a monk in permanent residence.

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