St Mary's Chickerell

History

 

There is evidence of Celtic Christianity in this area for centuries before the existence of the present church, which dates from about 1260, and can be assumed to have replaced an earlier wooden Saxon structure on the site.

The registers date from 1699 and the churchwardens' account and minute books date from 1729.

Inside:

Immediately inside the door on your right is a well-preserved Holy Water Stoup. Once, worshippers would have dipped their finger in the Holy Water and would have made the sign of the cross on their foreheads, when entering the church, to remind themselves of their baptism vows. (c. 1450)  

 

 

To the left of the stoup is a stained glass window of 20th century origin, which commemorates members of the Richardson family.

The saints represented on either side of Christ are St Francis of Assisi and St Anthony of Padua.

Fragments of an earlier window were discovered during excavations for a drainage channel along the south side of the building. 

They bore the date: 29th May 1738, and the name: John Green.  

 




The Jacobean oak pulpit bears the date 1630, the steps and handrail being 18th century.

 

Above the pulpit is a small window and a little face, relics of a time when a rood screen separated the nave from the chancel. In medieval times only the clergy and their assistants were permitted in the chancel; the screen kept out the people and their dogs!  

 




The carved wooden boards beside the altar, bearing Christ's words at the Last Supper, were made by a former churchwarden, Mr J.H. Rogers, and erected in 1923. He also made the oak lectern.

 

The stained glass window behind the altar represents the Ascension and probably dates from the late 19th century, the chancel having been restored in 1865, with further restoration carried out in 1875 and 1896.

 

The Mothers' Union banner was the work of a former Rector, (1934-1949) the Reverend A.F.G. Christie.

The photo shows the chancel after the re-ordering of 2011. The altar steps have been straightened, new lighting put in and new plinths for the side pews to stand on.


 




 On the wall above the corner is a 15th century grave slab bearing the figure of a possible early incumbent of the parish, carved in Purbeck marble. The slab was discovered inverted as part of the nave floor at the end of the 19th century.  

  

Nearby is a representation of the Last Supper in Nottingham Lace.

Hanging from the balcony is an Australian flag, which dates from the First World War. It was given by troops who had been convalescent at Chickerell Camp during the war.

The north aisle was paid for by public subscription and completed in 1834. The churchgoers of the day paid for their place in the new aisle, a typical sum being two or three pounds.

Before the alterations, there was a balcony running along the original north wall of the church. This was reoriented in the new design to form the present balcony on the west wall. The present pews replaced box pews in 1897.

The organ is a two manual pipe organ, which was bellows driven before the installation of electricity. It was acquired in 1902 for the sum of 40 and was originally made for St Mary's Hospital in Ilford. It was cleaned and rebuilt in 1961.

On either side of the organ are wooden boards bearing the words of the Lord's Prayer and the Creed.

Their origin is not known, but they would previously have hung on the wall behind the altar.  

 

 

The font dates from around 1150, although the stem and base are 19th century additions. The font, therefore, predates the present church.  

 

In the re-ordering of 2011, the old base was removed and the drain channel aligned so that the water drains into the ground after baptism.

 


Outside:

The Porch was rebuilt in 1722, using older masonry. The porch door was replaced in 1991.

On the south side of the church are 6 engaging carved dripstone heads on the bases of the windows.

Immediately to the right of the porch are two heads, one with a ruff, dating from the mid 15th century.

On the two chancel windows, the remaining 4 heads (from L to R) are reputed to be; a court jester, the Lord Chamberlain, Henry III and a bishop. (Henry III reigned 1216-1272).

Between the two chancel windows is a priest's door of 13th century origin. The doorway has been obliterated on the inside.

 


On the extreme eastern corner of the south wall is a medieval scratch dial (the central peg or gnomon is missing). This would have served as a clock for the times of the services.  


To the south of the church is a sturdy relic of the 17th century, a table tomb, commemorating Prudence Williams "who deceased 20th day of Februarie 1654".  


The two bells are housed in a 14th century bellcote above the west wall. The smaller bell is the second oldest in Dorset; c 1300 (The oldest being at St Michael and All Angels in the parish of Hanford near Child Okeford). The larger bell was recast in 1880.  


           

 

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