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Church of St. Mary, Alvediston

Church of St. Mary, Alvediston Date Photo Taken 2012
Uploaded 26/06/2015 16:31:08
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Map Latitude 51.01487006036769 : Longitude -2.0346057415008545
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

17th century tower from the south.

Alvediston had a church by the 12th century (with Alvediston itself first recorded by name in 1165). It was part of the Chalke prebend in Wilton conventual church by 1288. There were vicars of Alvediston from 1299 to the mid-16th century at which point it became one benefice with Broad Chalke and Bower Chalke and with the main vicarage at Broad Chalke and Alvediston and Bower Chalke chapels. The livings remained combined until 1861 when the perpetual curacy of Alvediston was created. The living was held alongside Berwick St. John rectory in 1945 - 6 and 1947- 55, and in plurality with the united benefice of Ebbesbourne Wake with Fifield Bavant from 1956. Alvediston formed a benefice with these in 1963. This was served by the Chalke Valley group ministry. Ebbesbourne Wake with Fifield Bavant and Alvediston, Broad Chalke and Bower Chalke and Berwick St. John became a united benefice of Chalke Valley West in 1981.

From 1299 - c.1450 the prebendaries of Chalke held the advowson of Alvediston. The advowson then passed with the prebendal estate to King's College, Cambridge in the mid-fifteenth century. Then when the perpetual curacy began in 1861 the vicar of Broad Chalke became the patron. This was then passed to the bishop of Salisbury.

St. Mary's Church as it stands now is primarily mid-nineteenth century with the font and the nave believed to date to the original 12th century church. Some of the fabric of the tower is seventeenth century and the north and south transepts were both 14th century. In 1585 the church is described as 'down'. This coincided with complaints of clerical neglect about the lack of a resident vicar; in 1553 there had been no sermon for two years, services were irregular in 1565 and in 1584 there were no services for several months. Once the combined benefice with Broad Chalke and Bower Chalke was established the church began its recovery from its low point. The church was extensively restored to a design by T.H. Wyatt in 1865.

There were four bells in 1553. Others of 1630 and 1640 were still hanging in the church in 1983 along with a third 1811 bell. The 'Church Plate of Wiltshire' records a good Elizabethan cup without hall mark or inscription, a band of engraved strap work around the bowl without foliation with knot and cable moulding similar to others in the diocese, and a paten of 4.5 inches diameter of plain plate with a single depression. A second paten of 6 and 7/8 inches diameter does have an inscription. There is a plated flagon with the same inscription given by the Rev. Rowland Williams (vicar of Broad Chalke).

There are various interesting monuments and memorials within the church. There are four grand Wyndham family monuments on the walls, the two earlier being for Sir Wadham Wyndham (who helped allocate land and property after the fire of London), and his wife Lady Barbara. The recumbent knight in the Norrington aisle is most likely a Gawen. For Hutton, in Highways and Byways of Wiltshire, the interest in the church did not lie in the building but in this 14th century effigy of a knight in full plate armour. The design could indicate a crusader who died a natural death and was not killed in battle. The rivets on the armour and on the leather belt are designed as 'Poached Eggs'.

During the church's low point in the 16th century the annual value of the vicarage was a little below the average for south Wiltshire at £10, but by the mid-nineteenth century it was closer to the average for the county at £336 for the value of the vicarage of Broad Chalke with Bower Chalke and Alvediston. The vicarage house was described as 'much in decay' in 1668, and was demolished in the 18th century. A new house was built in 1862-3 but was sold in 1947 and vicars no longer resided in the parish.

The parish registers date back to 1592 for baptisms, 1593 for burials and 1594 for marriages, with some gaps. These, apart from those in current use at the church, are held at Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre at Chippenham.

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