Saturday, 24 January 2009

An ancient church at Inglesham

A cat gargoyle on the outside of the church

The carving of the Mother and Child is almost certainly Saxon in origin - until 1910 it was on the outside of the south wall and used as a sundial but its original position is unknown.

Most of the walls are covered with paintings, often over painted up to seven layers thick

The bells date from 1717, made by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester

St John the Baptist Church, Inglesham, Wiltshire
This is somewhere I heard about a while ago and today came upon it almost by accident whilst walking the Thames path to Kelmscott. For someone who does not subscribe to religion, preferring to carry out my reflections on the mysteries of life whilst striding out across the Wiltshire Downs or mooching around along the upper Thames, old churches seem to play a significant role on this blog. Perhaps because they hold clues to the history of the people who used them, in some cases, over several centuries.
Inglesham is a small village the other side of Highworth and just before Lechlade. The old church is now looked after by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings which was founded by William Morris, who lived nearby in Kelmscott. There is a well polished plaque inside the church which says "This church was repaired in 1888-9 through the energy and with the help of William Morris, who loved it". Although it has been added to and renovated over the centuries, sections of it date back to the early 13th century (King John gave the church to the monks of Beaulieu in 1205).
A fascinating ancient building, situated close to the upper Thames, this old church is left open and is well worth a visit. There are some traces of a medieval village to be seen in the surrounding fields which declined with the passing of the wool trade.
Source of information: Anthony Barnes who produced a pamphlet named 'St John the Baptist Church' for The Churches Conservation Trust - a charity set up in 1969 to care for and repair ancient churches for present and future generations.