The place Jane Seymour was baptised (no, not that one)

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Man was in Nottingham this weekend, I was in Hampshire. I decided to travel to Wiltshire to see some of the Churches Conservation Trust churches that I am looking for as part of my Fifty before Fifty challenge.

Mistake. Never leave the navigator behind, even if you do have googlemaps.

Now the problem with these churches, or actually the charm, is that they are often in the back of beyond. They aren’t used any more for a reason and often that reason is because there were not enough people living in the area any more.

So St Andrew’s, Rolleston, Wiltshire. I met two couples at the previous church I had visited on Saturday (this was number seven) who said drive past the B&B and take the dirt track. So I did and followed it left and ended up in a field.

I retraced my route and took the dirt track the other side of the B&B, which I drove down very slowly peering up any gap in the trees, all of which turned out to be private driveways. I’m surprised I didn’t get arrested by someone thinking I was casing the joints :)

I eventually, on the second loop of this unmade road, decided to ask someone. Instead of turning left up the first road, I should have gone straight on … the one that looked as though it went into a field rather than the one that actually did go into a field.

Just when I thought the dirt track had ended, there was St Andrew’s.

IMG_6963bWhat a pretty little place.

It became briefly famous once because someone thought Jane Seymour had been baptised here, Well she had, unfortunately the Jane Seymour in question was neither Henry VIII’s wife nor the actress of the same name, but a villager called Jane Seymour in 1637. So everyone forgot about St Andrew’s again.

Which is a shame, because it’s lovely.

Once again it has the distinctive chequerboard masonry of stone and flint. It glitters in the sunlight.

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The church was begun in the 13th century, although the bell cote and the porch are much later editions – 1845 in fact. The bell, however, is 14th century so was there another bell cote here at one time, or was the bell brought from somewhere else? I don’t know.

IMG_6942bInside the porch is a nice little surprise.

IMG_6959bThis is the remains of a mass dial – a sun dial to tell parishoners what time mass would be held. It is on the original doorway.

IMG_6962bIt also has some lovely windows. This is the north window. It dates from 1370. I am not sure why the north side of the church isn’t dressed with the stone and flint like the south side is.

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It did mean, though, that the old north doorway could be seen very easily.

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This is the south window. This one is 16th century. Both this and all the other windows were given new external hoods in the 1845 restoration. The heads on them reflect the trend for gothic revival at the time.

IMG_6944bThe font is early fourteenth century. I love it, nice and simple, no fussiness to it at all. It’s practical and designed to stand the test of time, which it has. The cover is 17th century.

IMG_6945bThe pews are much more ornate but they are not the original seating. These are oak and date from the early 17th century. They weren’t made for St Andrew’s either. They were originally in the redundant church of Haydon near Sherbourne in Dorset and were moved here in 1981.

This church was owned by the Knights Hospitallers from the 14th century until the dissolution and, apparently, the dedication to St Andrew wasn’t mentioned until 1845. I wonder who, if anyone, it was previously dedicated too. I shall try and found out.

Behind the church there was a much more modern memorial that caught my eye.

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A gravestone to 24-year-old Barbara Knipe, a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, killed on active service in 1940. I’d like to find out more about her too and how she ended up here.

It was worth the drive and the getting lost. I think these places are always worth the drive. There is so much to discover.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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13 comments
  1. What a dear little church, I love the first photo of it nestled in the trees and what a font a ‘proper’ one. Would be interested to know about Barbara Knipe especially as she was killed on active service…..:)

    • It’s pretty isn’t it and, like we were saying yesterday, one thing leads to another…and another lol

      • and another :)

  2. I can almost picture the people attending such a pretty little church. It is interesting to see the seat pads left in the pew, one even has initials on it.
    ” Thy will be done” says it all doesn’t it. My mom wrote that in her Bible after I married someone she didn’t approve of.

    • These places have so many stories to tell. I love looking for the little details. You’re very observant :)

  3. Isn’t it an adorable little church, Dory – utterly charming… love the font, the roof tiles, the setting… and someone else loves it enough to mow the grass… these little country churches are so precious. What a great job you’re doing telling us about them… d’you think you could get a book together – I’d buy it????

    • Thanks Valerie, they have so many stories to tell hidden away, such little gems. Colleagues have suggested the book too :) who knows, I might give it a go (with a lot more research) :)

  4. Anny said:

    it’s fascinating to look at a church and try to imagine how it has been altered over the years – this example illustrates how even quite small buildings have still been subject to changes. But I especially like the mysteries – anything to do with the Hospitallers, and most of all, mysteries and histories about the people attached to the building.

    • Thanks. I agree :) I’ve always been fascinated by bricked up doors and windows and the more you look the more changes you discover. And I love a good mystery :)

  5. The north facing wall might have needed an awful lot of restoration work carried out on it, due to the mortar from the original construction disintegrating over time. Depending on which side has better shelter from the winds/rain, etc., it’s possible that this was a cause.

    Also, there wouldn’t have been pews in the church originally. Seating for the congregation didn’t actually become a “thing” until the 17th century, along with the whitewashing/plastering over of the inner walls to remove the beautiful paintings from their surfaces – and both were because of Cromwell. His Puritan ideals an’ all.

    *Love* the font. How many babies who were baptised in it still have descendants living locally, I wonder…

    • Lots of good points thanks :) I always wonder the same thing when I see an old font

  6. Luanne said:

    Oh, how lovely. And though I’ve read every book I can get my hands on about Henry’s wives, I still thought you meant THAT Jane when I read the title ;). Then I thought it WAS Henry’s wife. But, no, it’s a still more enigmatic and interesting Jane . . . .

    • Thanks. I love how these tiny tucked away places have quirky little stories :)

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