In History

All Saints', Alton Priors (C) Diane Neale LRPS

Like many parts of the UK, there are plenty of historic churches here in Wiltshire. These sometime overlooked buildings are often heritage gems in beautiful locations with their stories of the past to tell. We’ve teamed up with The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) to give you the top 10 of their Wiltshire-based churches to visit and reasons why…

1.    St Giles’ Church, Imber

Often people have heard of Imber’s church. Imber is the ‘lost’ village in the heart of Salisbury Plain military training area. The village was requisitioned during WW2 for military purposes and as a result the village and St Giles’ Church were abandoned. The church (and village) is only accessible at certain times of the year due to military activity in the area. You can usually find the church open during Easter, August and selected dates over the Christmas period. Keep an eye on our website for opening dates. 

St Giles' Church, Imber

2.    All Saints’ Church, Alton Priors

Set in the Pewsey Vale, All Saints’ Church (pictured at the top of this page), in the village of Alton Priors contains some unusual discoveries including a mysterious trapdoor concealing a buried Sarsen stone (like the ones used in the construction of Avebury and Stonehenge). In the churchyard you’ll find a yew tree that is said to be 1,700 years old and beautiful views across to the Alton Barnes White Horse. The church has a mixed history, with the chancel arch alluding to the Norman past, aspects dating from late-Medieval times and then the body of the chancel which dates from the 19th century. 

3.    Church of St John the Baptist, Inglesham

Walkers embarking on the Thames Path or the Ridgeway should make the short diversion off route to stop in at the Church of St John the Baptist in Inglesham. Dating from the 13th century, the church holds a fascinating history with wall paintings from the 13th-19th century, a Saxon stone carving and 15th century screens. It’s thanks to Victorian designer, William Morris (who lived nearby) that this church remains as is seen today. Victorian architects were planning on stripping the original Medieval identity of the church but Morris oversaw the restoration to ensure that its heritage was preserved for future generations. 

Inglesham (C) Diana Neale LRPS

4.    St Mary’s, Old Dilton

Just a couple of miles from Westbury White Horse is the 14th century St Mary’s Church with its tiny stone spire. 

Inside the church you’ll find box pews, a three-decker pulpit and family pews and little has changed here since the 18th century. The church also doubled-up as a schoolroom.

Old Dilton (C) Diana Neale LRPS 
5.    St Leonard’s Church, Sutton Veny

Just a few miles from number 4, St Mary’s Church is St Leonard’s Church in the village of Sutton Veny. This church was abandoned in the 1860s to make way for the village’s ‘new’ church. Most of this church now lays in ruins which, along with the peaceful churchyard and countryside walks from the gateway, is part of the site's charm. The chancel still has a roof and contains some interesting artefacts. 

Sutton Veny (C) Bruce Carey

6.    All Saints’ Church, Leigh

All that remains of All Saints’ Church today is just the chancel. The Medieval church which was here was abandoned due to the site’s wetland surroundings due to the proximity of the River Thames. Within the chancel you will find 17th century texts painted on the walls. Please note, due to the nature of this site being on wetlands, suitable footwear is recommended for a visit here as the grass can get boggy.

All Saints' Church, Leigh (C) Bruce Carey  
7.    All Saints’ Church, Idmiston

We’ve added another Medieval church into the mix at number 7, All Saints’ Church in Idmiston. One of the most remarkable features of this church is the Medieval carvings both internally (including corbel-heads and roof bosses) and externally in the form of gargoyles. There are also notable features from later centuries including a two-storey north porch.

All Saints', Idmiston (C) Tim Rubidge

8.    St Andrew’s Church, Rollestone

The tiny church of St Andrew’s was mainly built during the 13th century of flint and stone chequer work and was originally owned by religious crusaders. Inside the church there is the original font, Georgian heraldic glass and oak benches. 

St Andrew's, Rollestone (C) Diana Neale LRPS

9.    St Mary’s Church, Maddington

Close by to church number 8, St Mary’s Church at Maddington also features chequer board walls. Much of what you see today reflects the restoration work carried out by T H Wyatt in 1853 and only a few small fragments of the church’s Norman past remain.

St Mary's, Maddington (C) Diana Neale LRPS 
10.    Church of Saint Margaret of Antioch, Leigh Delamere

The grand Church of Saint Margaret of Antioch was built in 1846 but James Thomson (who designed nearby Grittleton House). It used parts of the church’s 12th century predecessor but looks Victorian. 

Leigh Delamere (C) Tim Rubidge

These are just some of the churches cared for by the CCT that can be found here in Wiltshire, there are many other small churches that can be found on your travels (further details can be found here). 

Look out for downloadable walks that you can do at some of these churches and keep an eye on the CCT’s website for details of any upcoming talks, walks or visits to their Wiltshire churches. 

If you have any favourites that we haven’t mentioned, please comment below and share them with our readers. Looking for places to stay near any of these churches? Find out more about accommodation around the county here

Related

The Churches Conservation Trust
Church/Chapel
Idmiston All Saints

The Churches Conservation Trust protects and cares for 21 historic churches across Wiltshire. The unique collection of churches includes irreplaceable examples of architecture, archaeology and art from 1,000 years of history.

0 Comments

Comments

Nobody has commented on this post yet, why not send us your thoughts and be the first?

Leave a Reply