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Wilsford cum Lake

Church of St. Michael, Wilsford cum Lake

Church of St. Michael, Wilsford cum Lake Date Photo Taken 2013
Uploaded 09/03/2015 14:25:56
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Map Latitude 51.15728399043841 : Longitude -1.8086470663547516
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre


Memorial to the British ambassador to the Netherlands Richard Sykes.

The Anglican parish church of St Michael's, built of stone and flint, dates to around 1330. The history of the church on site dates back earlier, with record of its endowment in the Foundation Charter of St. Osmund's Cathedral at Old Sarum 1091, but little else is known about the original church.

The church was restored and largely rebuilt in 1850s at the expense of Giles Loder, and both the vestry and north transept were added. A licence was granted by the Bishop of Salisbury to hold services in the granary at Wilsford farmyard (which was consecrated for the purpose) during the reconstruction work. There were three bells dated 1572, 1585 and 1601, one of which was cast locally by an itinerant founder. The tower is Norman, but has been restored.

The nave and chancel are all in one building, with an organ chamber on the north, and a timber framed south porch, built by Weaver, dating to 1869.

The main fabric of the walls is strap-pointed flint with limestone dressings. Some chevron and 12th century carved stones are built into the walls, and two of the walls have 12th century lower stages, without buttresses.

Inside the church, the choir stalls, pews and communion rail are all 19th century, except two pews near the rear of the church which are likely 17th century. The octagonal limestone font possibly dates back to the 17th century, and was reset in the 19th.

The Gothic case organ was made by J.W. Walker in 1858. J.W. Walker and Sons Ltd was established in 1828, and the organs they produced were particularly popular for Gothic Revival church building and restoration during the Victorian period.

In the south chancel window there is a 15th century depiction of crucified Christ set in 14th century pieces.

There are a series of interesting wall monuments including a Gothic limestone niche and ogee cusped canopy for Edward Duke, died 1852; two wall tablets by Earlsman of Sarum to Richard Chandler, died 1784 and to Robert Duke, died 1793, and wife, died 1805; a white marble tablet with yellow marble panel, scroll and foliage supporters, to Edward Wyndham Tennant, died 1916 on the Somme; an engraved slate tablet by Eric Gill, portraying mother and child, to Wynlayne Foster Lodge of Painswick, died 1922; and a polished limestone panel to Richard Sykes, ambassador to the Netherlands, who was assassinated in 1979.

In the chancel, there are a series of six panels of cast and painted plaster angels playing musical instruments, with separate garlands over, and roundels above. Quotations from Keat's Ode to a Grecian Urn are inscribed in the semi-circular panels below.

There are two hatchments (armorial shields painted onto a diamond shape) hanging on the west wall of the church, one commemorating Robert Duke, died 1749, and the other, his son, died 1793. The carved arms in the centre are those of George III.

The church is part of the Prebend of Wilsford and Woodford, the exact date of the founding of which is unknown, but the first reference to Woodford Prebend appears in 1187. The parishes began to share a vicar at some point before the13th century, and in 1599 parishioners complained to the Bishop that they were not receiving proper spiritual attention, claiming that Wilsford was mother church with Woodford a dependent chapel.

The parish registers, dating back to the late 17th century (baptisms from 1681, marriages from 1696, and burials from 1691), are available to view at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre in Chippenham.

The registers include incidental information such as notes of Duke Family deaths from 1651, and a note of seats in the church belonging to Lake Farm, 1690. The register for baptisms also includes memoranda concerning installation of barrel organ in church 1845, list of subscribers to repair of Woodford Bridge 1814, and the destruction of the bridge and three cottages 1823 by the 'highest flood within the memory of man'.


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