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All Saints and St John's Church History


All Saints Church

All Saints Church is located in West Winterslow, where patronage of the livings resided with the successive holders of the manor. A former rector of the parish, Rev. Clive Cohen, has written a comprehensive history of the church and its ministry.

The church was first documented in a record of taxation dated 1291 although two arches and their pillars are reported to date from the late 11th century, as does the font which remains in use. The medieval church was richly decorated until the Reformation when the interior was whitewashed and its paintings covered. One of the losses was a ‘Doom' painting above the chancel arch, depicting death, judgement, heaven and hell; this is believed to have dated from the 15th century. The painting was discovered in the course of the 19th century rebuilding but lost again as a result of the alterations involved. The Churchwardens' accounts show that in 1560 a substantial amount of work was done to the Church and a major roof restoration was carried out in 1572. The church was re-seated in 1768.

In the 16th century the Thistlethwayte family became prominent in the parish: Alexander Thistlethwayte acquired the manor of West Winterslow in 1530 and Giles Thistlethwayte, possibly his brother, contemporaneously acquired that of Middle Winterslow, or Middleton. In 1727 the Revd. Dr. Charles Woodroffe, widower of Elizabeth Thistlethwayte, bequeathed the manor of Middle Winterslow to St. John's College, Oxford. Rectors of the parish included Gabriel Thistlethwayte from 1671 to 1722/3; Robert Thistlethwayte from 1722/3 to 1739 and another Robert Thistlethwayte from 1745 to 1767. Many memorials to members of the Thistlethwayte family remain in the church, although some of them were damaged in the 19th century remodelling of the church.

The church was rebuilt and extended in the incumbency of the Rev. Edward Luard, rector from 1846 to 1868. He would later recall in 1867 in ‘The Church Builder, Quarterly Journal of Church Extension in England and Wales' that prior to the rebuilding the ‘disgraceful state of the whole fabric, together with the need for more sittings, loudly demanded restoration and enlargement'. Usefully, his parish notebook provides a description of the old church; this states that the entrance was through the tower which itself was sited as it is presently, although it was approximately 10 feet lower. On the top of the tower was a ‘wooden pyramidal termination' surmounted by the same weathercock (dating from 1841) as remains in place today. ‘At the east end of the aisle, Lord Holland's pew appeared in a gallery, access to which was gained from without by means of a short staircase. At the west end was a gallery where sat the musicians and the village lads who used to amuse themselves by throwing nutshells on to the sounding board of the Pulpit which together with the Reading and Clerk's desks was immediately beneath them at the West pillar on the North side'. In his 1867 article in ‘The Church Builder' Luard referred again to the music gallery ‘where Psalmody of the most unsavoury character was performed by rustics whose knowledge of music was the very smallest, and whence all kinds of unmusical instruments poured forth their discordant strains'. More seriously, the chancel arch was ‘dangerously out of its perpendicular'.

The architect engaged for the rebuilding which began in 1849 was T. H. Wyatt. The church was reopened on 8th April 1850 with 500 persons present. The original estimate for the works had been £1,000 but the final cost was £2158 6s. 8d. In addition to funding from a parish rate, grants of varying amounts had been provided from families such as the Luards, the Hollands, the Egertons and also from St. John's College. The pillars, arches, chancel arch and north aisle of the original church remained but the nave had been extended and much of the church effectively rebuilt. The east window was the gift of Francis Thomas Egerton of Roche Court.

Four months after the reopening the organ was installed. Made by Clark of Bath it was first located at the west end of the church but has been re-sited following a complete refurbishment, which was undertaken in 1982, and it is now located on the north side of the church. The organ was rededicated in June 1983.

The tower itself was not restored until 1851, when the timber upper storey was removed and replaced by flint. The height was also raised by 10 ft. The cost of this restoration was £195.

Three of the bells in the tower date from 1598, 1601 and 1623. All are marked ‘IW', referring to John Wallis, a bellfounder of Salisbury, although those of 1601 and 1623 were recast in 1910.

Still in existence, although in secure storage elsewhere, is a set of silver communion plate (chalice, paten and flagon) known as the Thistlethwayte Silver, given to the church in 1693 when Gabriel Thistlethwayte was rector. Similarly, the parish register
begun in 1717 in Gabriel Thistlethwayte's 81st year states,

‘The Yew tree in the corner on the other side of the Church rails was placed there by the order of the Rector near about10 years before this Register began and set there by the hand of Andrew Beacham. Remember how many yeares it stands'.

The finely carved pulpit dating from the 17th century also remains in the present-day church.

A number of charities have been endowed in the parish in the course of its history; a board in the church records that bequeathed by Mrs. Sarah Curtis who died in 1871.

Fine memorials to those who died in the First and Second World Wars also hang on the walls, recording the loss of young lives to many village families.

Parish registers of All Saints Church held by Wiltshire and Swindon Archives date from 1596 to 1914 for baptisms; from 1599 to 1932 for marriages and from 1598 to 1960 for burials. Registers of banns date from 1894 to 1972. Later registers presently remain with the church.

The church Parish of Winterslow includes Firsdown, Lopcombe Corner and the Winterslows, providing service to the community and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. We are one of The Clarendon Team churches in the Alderbury Deanery in the Diocese of Salisbury.



St John's Church

When the small church of St. John the Baptist opened as a chapel of ease on Winterslow Common in 1860, the building was used as a school on weekdays.
The Churchwarden's accounts for the building works survive, as do those for the building of a new Infants' School on the Common between 1877 and 1879. Little further information survives in relation to the operation of the schools.

St John's Schoolroom