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Church of St. Matthew, Rushall

Church of St. Matthew, Rushall Date Photo Taken 2013
Uploaded 11/03/2015 16:10:26
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Map Latitude 51.30169638040905 : Longitude -1.8167231976985931
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

1788 tablet to Edward Poore and his wife Barbara, the daughter of Paul Methuen of Bradford on Avon.

The Domesday Survey of 1086 records that a church at Rushall was held at that time as a chapel belonging to the Abbey of St. Wandrille de Fontenelle, near Rouen; the Abbey had established a cell at Upavon. Between 1142 and 1281, however, patronage of the church had been granted to the lords of Rushall manor in exchange for a pension to be paid to the Abbey. By 1423 the pension was paid to Ivychurch Priory in Alderbury, near Salisbury, and this continued until the Dissolution. The parish had an incumbent rector by 1281 and parochial status was achieved by 1395 and a graveyard established.

From 1285 to 1747 the advowson was held by the lords of the manor; in 1747 it was sold to Merton College, Oxford. The link with Oxford University continued when, between 1778 and 1819 trusteeship of the church was vested in Merton, New and Brasenose Colleges.

On Census Sunday in 1851 there 59 and 70 worshippers were in the congregations of the day's two services.

Rushall church was united with that at Charlton between 1920 and 1939 when patronage was shared between Merton College and Christ Church, Oxford, the latter being patron of Upavon church. When, in 1939, Rushall church was united with Upavon in 1939 patronage was shared between Merton College and the Lord Chancellor, who was the patron of Upavon.

A new church was built in 1332 to replace the earlier structure of which no information survives except that of its existence, although a 12th century font in the church, standing on a section of a Norman capital, may survive from the building. In 1402 the church was recorded as St. Andrew's but was subsequently, and to the present day, known as St. Matthew's. The remaining parts of the 14th century structure are the chancel arch, nave buttresses, two windows reset in the north wall after restoration and a short stretch of the north wall itself. The tower was built in the late 15th or early 16th century and benches in the church also date from the 16th century. A chapel with a vault beneath were built by John Poore in 1789. The chapel contains a memorial to Edward Poore but is now used as a vestry. Benches in the church also date from the 16th century. In 1812 the chancel, nave and porch were rebuilt in brick and 61 years later, in 1873 the chancel walls were lowered and its roof rebuilt with a steeper pitch. The church underwent a major restoration in 1905 designed by the architect who was responsible for numerous such restorations of churches in Wiltshire, C.E. Ponting. Following this restoration the church is of brick, stone and flint, with a chancel, nave, north chapel, south porch and west tower which has three bells dating from c.1400, 1606 and 1740.

An important feature of the church is the pipe organ manufactured by Hill & Son of London in 1855 or c.1870. This has been listed by the British Institute of Organ Studies Register of Historic Pipe Organs as being "an instrument of importance to the national heritage and one deserving careful preservation for the benefit of future generations". It has a Grade II* classification. This organ was acquired in 1982 to replace the harmonium organ then in place.

The registers of baptisms, marriages and burials in the parish date from 1651. Original parish registers held at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre at Chippenham are as follows: Baptisms 1652-1987; Marriages 1652-1723; 1725-1739, 1743-1990; Burials 1653-1991; Banns 1754-1811, 1823-1992.Bishop's Transcripts, with gaps, dating from 1622 are also held at the History Centre.

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