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Minutes 13th November

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st leonards church

st leonards church

A church stood on this site by the early 12th Century and probably belonged to Amesbury Abbey.   It was certainly confirmed as belonging to Amesbury Priory in 1179 and the Priors were appointed Chaplains here until the Dissolution.

The Church consists of a chancel, a nave, a north transept and a south porch with tower above.   The chancel arch and the east, west and south walls of the nave are from the original 12th Century building, while the chancel and the north wall of the nave were rebuilt in the late 12th Century.   In the 13th Century the south door of the nave was renewed and the porch and tower built.

Today we see a squat tower with a pyramid roof no higher than the nave, but this was a taller three stage tower when it was built.   Poor foundations meant that the top stage was removed, probably in the 16th century, and buttresses were built.   The 16th century also saw the replacement of the east window and the reconstruction of the chancel roof.

In the early 17th Century the doorway of the south porch was renewed and later the nave roof was rebuilt in hammer beam construction.   The altar rails are of the 17th Century and the royal coat of arms is that of King Charles of 1666.   In the 18th Century the dedication of the Church was changed to St. John the Evangelist, although the original dedication was to St. Leonard. In 1826 the early north transept was replaced by a narrower and longer one with a north gallery above a vestry.   On Census Sunday in 1851 there were 138 people at afternoon service.   The community, and the Parish Registers suffered from there being no resident clergy from the time of Charles II until the late 19th Century.   The repairs and alterations to the Church were probably undertaken by the Lords of the Manor, the Churchwardens, and leading parishioners.   To accommodate a resident Vicar a vicarage house, designed by C.E. Ponting, was built in 1893  (it was sold by the church in 1978).

Around 1900 the Church was re-dedicated to St. Leonard and an oak lectern was presented.   The church was restored between 1902 and 1911 under the direction of CE Ponting and an oak pulpit was installed in 1910.   A new east window was provided as the war memorial to the men of Bulford.   There are traces of medieval wall paintings surviving on the northern and eastern walls of the nave, and these include a St. Christopher.   A piscina is to be found in the south wall of the Sanctuary.

st leonards churchThere were 3 bells in 1553 and these were replaced or recast by John Wallis in 1614.   These two bells were recast as one in 1911.   The Parish Registers, other than those in current use, are held in the Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office.

There are Registers for Births from 1654-1684 and from 1762 onwards, for marriages from 1654-1690 and from 1790 onwards, and for burials from 1655-1677 and from 1766 onwards.

The Church is now part of the Avon River Team.

(Click on any of the pictures to view slideshow)