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History of St. Giles, Imber, Wiltshire
"A Walk Through the Lost Village
Our thanks goes to Tim Garraway Jones who has allowed us to copy his work. This extract is from his work:
of Imber on Salisbury Plain"
Tim Garraway Jones
The Church of St. Giles
The church, dating from the thirteenth century, was described in The King's England (Wiltshire Volume) edited by Arthur Mee and first published in 1939. The date is significant, from a time a few years before the village was closed down. The 17th century fittings are mentioned: a wooden font cover on the large Norman font, 'carved pews, a richly decorated pulpit, charmingly carved stalls in the chancel' - also a wagon roof with a carved boss featuring a mitred bishop.
There are remnants of paintings (ancient frescoes) in the nave, and fragments of glass, including a piece with a small head of Christ. It is the porch, doorway and tower that were said then to be 500 years old, so it can be said that parts of St. Giles Church were known to the Lords of the Manor who inhabited Imber during the Middle Ages.
For here were laid to rest two members of the Rous family, knights who fought bravely for their King, and their tombs remind the visitor of a Medieval England, when battles were fought and brave heroes needed. These knights are dressed in chain and plain mail, one with sword, helmet and visor, the other with shield blazoned with three lions; both have lions at their feet. Could these knights be the Norman descendants of Ralph de Mortimer mentioned in the Domesday Book?
Also from the Medieval realms are some well known names mentioned in Sir Richard Colt Hoare's 'Modern History of Wiltshire' (1812). Walter, Lord Hungerford owned Imber Manor as well as the Manor at Homyngton, and property at Folke. He was one of the first benefactors of a Spire Appeal (14th century) at Salisbury Cathedral! His tomb, now in the cathedral nave, was originally placed in a chantry chapel on the cathedral, with an endowment established by his wife. The chapel was surrounded by iron railings. They can still be seen, now part of the Radnor family pew in the chancel. Lady Hungerford also provided a house for 2 priests in the cathedral close, situated at Choristers Green.
The Gawen family of Norrington also held a significant parcel of land at Imber. The Wadham family name lives on, commemorated by 'Wadham's Coppice'. In the 17th century, a robber called Grimes was shot, buried at Imber; his accomplice being buried at Market Lavington. Cole Hoare's description of the environment praises the sheep turf on the downs along with the fresh air. However, he wrote that the waters were bursting at times from many springs, while at other times the water was some eighty to ninety feet below the surface. This was 'the chief inconvenience'.
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