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