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History of The Church of Saints Peter & Paul, Great Somerford, Wiltshire


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We have typed the text as the photograph is not clear.


The Church of Saints Peter and Paul, Somerford Magna

The origin of this church is not known.  The first written record so far discovered is in a papal list of 1290, but the village itself which may well have had some place of worship, is named in the Domesday Book in 1085.  Earlier still Saint Aldhelm who lived in Malmesbury during the last half of the seventh century was known to like fords for his preaching places, so it is not unreasonable to hope that the existence of a Church in Somerford may date back to him.

Some traces of an older building were found below the tower wh.. boiler house was made in 1975.  The first church was successively enlarged by the north aisle, chancel and tower, until finally the south wall was moved outwards to widen the nave.  By the end of the fifteenth century the stone fabric - except for an organ chamber built in 1880 - largely as it is now.

In contrast to this, most of the inside fittings are little more than a hundred years old.  The pews were put in, to replace the old "horse box" type, and a gallery in the north aisle taken down in 1865.  Of the old woodwork only the sounding board above the pulpit remains.  Since then have come the organ, choir stalls, vestry screen and all the windows except on in the children's corner and a little piece of old glass high up in the south east of the nave.

The chancel ceiling was painted in 1901 in memory of the Rev. W. Andrews:  the altar rail commemorates Canon F.H. Manley and the children's corner was arranged as a memorial to Sarah Greenway, a Sunday School teacher who was over 66 years at the village school.

There is also a tablet in the chancel recording how a notable rector, Canon S.F.T. Demainbray originated the allotment system in England by giving part of his glebe to the poor cottagers of the parish.  This land, down the Dauntsey Road and now administered by the Parish Council, has been in continuous use for allotments since the gift was made in 1809.

The processional cross given in memory of Alderman Edward J. Couzens, a faithful servant of the church, was carved by a local craftsman, Jack Evans of Seagry in 1970.

Stones inside and outside the building record many of the people who have worked and worshipped in this place and their labours are now being continued by the present inhabitants of the parish.


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