St Mary's and St Melor Church, Amesbury

By Emma Kirkup

Many people know of Amesbury due to its close proximity to Stonehenge. In fact, the town is only two miles from the iconic site and in addition to the World Heritage Site, there is an interesting history to be found in and around the town.

Historic churches in and around the Amesbury area

I started my trip to some of the local Churches Conservation Trusts in the villages near to Amesbury. To those that don’t know, these churches are still consecrated but no longer hold regular services. They are often opened up by volunteers or nearby key keepers.

St George's Church, Orcheston

The first church I explored was St George’s in Orcheston. This church dates from medieval times and is one of two medieval churches in the village. As I approached it I was amazed by just how peaceful it was there, just the sound of leaves moving in the wind and birdsong. There are some interesting stained glass windows and within the church you’ll find a more detailed explanation of some of the history of the church and some of the key features that you can see.

St Mary's Church, Maddington

Next up, I travelled the short distance to Maddington, near Shrewton. I must admit I did find this church a little trickier to find however this was probably not helped by my failure to look up directions before my visit! That said, there were clues in nearby street names like Abbey Close so I knew I must be nearby! Sure enough, tucked behind some houses I found a path that led me the way to the church.

This church is St Mary’s and can be noted by its chequerboard walls and I loved some of the decoration and architectural features found within the church.

Shortly after, I arrived at St Andrew’s Church at Rollestone. This church can be found behind the grand Rollestone Manor (a B&B and restaurant – in fact one of the closest places you can stay to Stonehenge).

Rollestone Manor

St Andrew's Church, Rollestone

St Andrew’s was quite small compared to the previous two churches. This church was once owned by religious crusaders and was built mainly in the 13th century.    

My final church visit for the day was to St Mary & St Melor in Amesbury. Sitting just a short walk from the centre of the town, the church houses a clock believed to have been built in the 15th century, it reminded me a bit of the historic clock that you can find within Salisbury Cathedral.

The town of Amesbury

Bunting adorned the main streets of Amesbury on my visit, a sign that the town’s annual carnival was shortly to take place! The town seemed busy with people popping into the bakery, enjoying lunch in the cafes or shopping in some of the small stores like the pretty One Brown Cow.

One Brown Cow

Popping into the Amesbury Information Centre, I picked up a variety of local walking routes. The team there were happy to suggest some of the walks that they recommended and I decided upon doing one of the short walks taking in Bonnymead Park.

Amesbury History Centre

On the way I stopped by at the Amesbury History Centre. Here you’ll find displays about some of Amesbury’s history including recent archaeological digs and findings. For children, there’s a small area with colouring sheets and crafting activities as well as a sandbox where you can practice your archaeological digging skills!

There are some lovely views across the River Avon and the meadows in this part of the town and if I was wearing more appropriate footwear I would have liked to do some of the longer walks taking in West Amesbury and the Woodford Valley. Instead I decided to drive back to Salisbury that way, passing Sting’s place along the way!

West Amesbury

Although Amesbury’s not a huge town, it’s certainly convenient for exploring the wider Wiltshire area with not only Stonehenge but Woodhenge and Durrington Walls, Heale Gardens, the churches I’ve mentioned above and Old Sarum all nearby. There are lots of walks you can do in the local area, including short walks encompassing the World Heritage Site, through to river walks along the Avon. There are even some walks taking in some of the area’s military history at Larkhill and Bulford.

Footpaths near Amesbury

If you are looking to stay in the area then there is a variety of choice including the nearby Holiday Inn (look out for the Amesbury Ancestor just outside it too!) and Rollestone Manor, or, for a spot of glamping there’s Stonehenge Glamping Pods just a short drive away. Find out more about places to stay nearby here

Amesbury Ancestor

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