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St Michael and All Angels

 

 

Image 1 for St Michaels and All Angels Church Urchfont

 

This page is taken from the Church Guide.  It provides information about the history of the church building and the changes that have taken place over the centuries.

 

           

  1. The porch. The two heads either side of the church door are traditionally thought to be of King Alfred and his queen Ahlswith. In about 900 the Manor of Urchfont was given to the Nunnery of Winchester, which had been newly founded by Alfred`s Queen, hence the connection. The porch was built in 1430.
  2. The font is the oldest part of the building and stood in an earlier church on the site. It dates from 1220. Above the fireplace is a list of vicars and rectors. This part of the church was probably separated by a wooden screen centuries ago and used possibly as a schoolroom or meeting room, hence the fireplace. The Millennium window is the quatrefoil at the top of the west window. It was given by the parishioners in 2000 and is the work of Rosalind Grimshaw. The design is inspired by the village name and based on Psalm 42.
  3. The tower was built in the late fifteenth century. There was a gallery here until 1864. It was put there in 1724. There is a ring of eight bells, the earliest probably cast in the fourteenth century. Details are given on a board on the north wall. The church clock mechanism was made in 1844 and there is a photograph near the smaller door.
  4. The nave. This was rebuilt in the fourteenth century and the roof is seventeenth century. If you stand near the fourth pew from the back, you would be about where the west end of the earlier church stood. The pews replaced closed pews in 1864 and are interesting because they are double clinkered. High in the arches of the arcade can be seen the hooks from which oil lamps were suspended before electricity was brought to the village in about 1935. The wall memorials are nineteenth century and include two commemorating the Giddings family, one of the oldest families in the village. David Giddings for many years flew the church flags and cut the churchyard grass.
  5. The north aisle. This is fifteenth century; the roof is Jacobean with a date in the north-west corner of 1631. Up to 1840 there was a central doorway in this north wall which was replaced by the present window. Wall memorials include one to Jane Snook a member of another of the oldest families in the village. At the back of the aisle is a display of medieval tiles found in the sanctuary. A detailed study of these may be found in the Historical Notes available on the shelf in the middle of the church.
  6. The transepts. These were added in possibly 1300, and a vestry was built on to the north transept in the nineteenth century. Now the north transept itself acts as a vestry. The organ was made by J.J.Binns in Leeds in 1912. The south transept was a chapel separated from the rest of the church by a wooden screen. The James Long monument on the eastern wall was where the altar was situated. The chapel`s piscina is on the south wall.
  7. The chancel arch is one of the oldest parts of the church, albeit much restored, and dates from the Early English period of about 1230. Over the centuries the weight of the roof has pushed the arch out of shape. High on the left is a Tudor arch, and the long opening below gave access to a pulpit and to the top of the rood screen, which once separated chancel and nave.  The stone pulpit dates from 1863.
  8. The chancel. What you see is not the original. It was rebuilt between 1320 and 1325. In his `Buildings of England` Nikolaus Pevsner says of Urchfont Church that the `climax is without doubt the chancel, not high but imposing`. In the roof, half way up and at the ridge, are carved bosses. Supporting the ribs are decorated corbels in the form of fourteen heads. On the north wall is the priest`s doorway.
  9. The sanctuary. The great east window is dated 1889 and replaced medieval glass. The whole east wall was rebuilt at the time. The windows on either side contain medieval glass at the top, mostly nineteenth century copies of the original grisaille work.  On the south wall is a piscina with an ogee - `s`- shaped arch, and the credence table is of Japanese oak, made in 1993.  The bier (coffin) stools are dated 1750.

 

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