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Christ Church, Shaw, Wiltshire
This information was taken from a notice at the church. Although given permission to reproduce it here, was are sorry we cannot credit the work to a person as the information was not recorded.
CHRIST CHURCH, SHAW AND WHITLEY - CHURCH HISTORY
There was a Church at Shaw in very early times. It was dedicated to
St. Leonard, but beyond that fact very little is known about it and
nothing of it remains. In 1837 Shaw Chapel was built, when the
ecclesiastical district of Shaw was formed out of Melksham as a
‘District Chapelry.’ This building was typical of the style of
architecture prevailing in the early stage of what is known as the
‘Gothic Revival,’ and consisted of a nave 32 ½ feet wide, without aisles,
covered by a meanly constructed, low-pitched, blue slated roof in one
span; a mere recess, 7 feet deep, for a chancel; a vestry, 8 feet by
5 ½ feet, and a bell-cot over the west gable forming a porch to the
doorway beneath. It was lighted by a row of tall lancet windows on
each side and a triplet at the east end. Much had been done to
improve the building by painting the walls, and replacing the box
pews by low open seats, which latter are still retained, but it had
long been felt that nothing short of an entire remodelling of the
structure could ever make the Church satisfactory.
In 1905, at a cost of over £20,000, generously borne by the late
Mr. Charles Awdry, the Church was entirely remodelled, the architect
being Mr. C.E. Ponting, F.S.A., and an apse was added at the east end,
and tower, vestry and Baptistery at the west end. The alteration of
the old nave consists of erecting pillars and arches of oak to divide
it longitudinally into three parts, cutting off the eastern part of
this to form a chancel, the parts on the north and south forming
transepts. The arcades of the nave are surmounted by a clerestory
stage of half-timber work in oak and rough-cast, with windows having
oak mullions and tracery. The old vestry has been left almost intact
for use as a sacristy, but the only portions of the old nave which
remain are its side walls.
The tower is, like the rest of the Church, treated in an entirely
unconventional manner; inside it is divided into four storeys, the
lowest being the entrance porch. Externally, the lower stages
are quite plain, but the belfry state is considerably elaborated.
The eight buttresses are carried to the top, and in each there is a
niche containing a life-size figure. The tower has a pierced
embattled parapet but no pinnacles. In the centre of it is a
fleche or spire, constructed of wood and covered with cleft oak
shingles, with a weather cock as its terminal, rising to a height of
100 feet. All the roofs are of open timbered type, constructed
of oak and covered with Westmorland green slates. At the
intersection of the roofs of the nave and transepts is a tall oak
fleche of somewhat elaborate design, covered with oak shingles; this
contains the extract ventilator.
The interior of the Church is more ornate than the exterior.
The chancel is enclosed on three sides by richly treated oak screens,
that dividing the chancel and nave being especially elaborate, the
side towards the nave having a cove with fan-vaulting. The
apse at the east end has the unusual peculiarity of an angle, and not
one of its sides, with a window, in the centre behind the altar; this
was designed to enable the reredos to be carried up higher in the
centre. In each of the four sides, two on either side of the
central angle, is a tall, two-light tracery window having square heads
like those of the aisles (the rule throughout the building being
observed of giving the windows under eaves a horizontal termination).
The pavement of the sanctuary is of black and white marble, with black
marble steps. The choir stalls are of oak, and at each end are
carved various coat of arms, including that of the diocese (Our Lady and
Child). The font is of Derbyshire marble. The brass
candelabrum in the middle of the choir was originally in Melksham
Church, and was transferred to Shaw by resolution of the Melksham
Vestry in 1846. It is considered to be one of the finest of its
kind in the country. A similar one was transferred to Seend at
the same time.
The figure sculpture was evidently the subject of much thought.
The dedication of the Church in the Name of Christ was kept in view as
the central point round which the whole scheme was arranged. In
the niches of the buttresses on the east side of the tower are
represented four of the chief prophets who foretold our Lord’s coming -
David, Daniel, Isaiah and Zephaniah. The four figures in the west
part of the tower, towards the road, are the evangelists who recorded our
Lord’s coming. Flanking the entrance doorway of the porch are the
two figures of Our Lady and St. Gabriel - representing the Annunciation.
In a niche over the west window is a figure of our Lord as the
Good Shepherd. The figures of the reredos and of the west window
are described below.
All the stone figure sculpture, as well as the oak screens, stalls and
other oak fittings, are the work of Mr. Herbert Read, of Exeter.
The general contractors were Messrs. Hoskings Bros., of Newbury and
Hungerford. The Church has been warmed by Messrs. Haden, of
Trowbridge, and the metal-work executed by Messrs. Singer, of Frome.
Reredos photos |
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The beautiful oak reredos that forms the background to the altar is 10 ½
feet wide and 20 feet high, and contains the figures of the twelve Apostles
with their respective emblems. These latter take, as a rule, though
not always, the form of the instrument by which the Apostle is supposed to
have suffered martyrdom.
Reading from left to right, the figures are: -
(1) St. James the Less - a fuller’s club;
(2) St. Philip - a long pilgrims’ staff, surmounted by a cross, alluding to
his missionary wanderings among the barbarians;
(3) St. John - a cup from which a winged serpent is emerging, in reference
to the tradition that one of the priests of Diana challenged the Apostle to drink
a cup of poison. After St. John had made the sign of the Cross over the cup,
Satan, in the form of a serpent, rose from it and flew away;
(4) St. James the Great - a sword;
(5) St. Bartholomew - a butcher’s knife;
(6) St. Matthew - a roll and pen.
(1) St. Peter - two keys, Matt. xvi. 10;
(2) St. Andrew - two pieces of wood crossing each other in the middle
and so forming a cross;
(3) St. Matthias - a battle axe;
(4) St. Thomas - a builder’s rile, alluding to the success of his labours in founding churches;
(5) St. Jude - a halbert;
(6) St. Simon Zelotes - a saw.
A figure of the risen Lord, bearing the banner of Resurrection, occupies the
central tabernacle, and above that is one of St. Michael slaying the dragon,
as symbolical of the triumph of Christ’s Church over sin. The niches are enclosed
by a frame with delicate undercut carving of vine pattern, and there is a deep
pierced cresting in which are shields carved with emblems of the Passion.
It was the original intention to add the figure of our Lord to the Cross in the
large central panel, but this was never completed.
The reredos, with its sculpture, and the altar were the work of Messrs. Martyn and Co., of Cheltenham.
Photograph of window |
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This window was dedicated on February 7 1921 by Dr. A.E. Burn, Dean of Salisbury, to
the memory of the men of the parish who had fallen in the war.
The main design of the window consists of the four Patronal Saints of the United
Kingdom and Ireland - St. George, St. Andrew, St. Patrick and St. David, each with
their respective emblems. Standing above them are four Warrior Angels, selected
from ‘The Order of Governors and Order of Messengers of God’s Will.’ The first,
an archangel (represented by St. Michael as the Warrior Saint of Christendom);
the second ‘Virtues;’ the third, ‘Powers;’ the fourth, ‘Principalities;' each shown
in armour. The figures stand beneath canopies, painted on silvery white glass, and
above are four angels holding a continuous scroll that runs through the four lights.
On this is inscribed: ‘Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory,
and the victory.’ Borders of white and coloured glass are introduced, consisting of the
initial letters of the Saints’ names, surmounted with a crown, and alternated with
ornamental pieces. The tracery openings are filled at the apex with a representation
of the Agnus Dei, standing on the Book with the Seven Seals; angels holding shields
with the two sacred monograms, Palms and Crowns of Victory; while the eight smallest
openings show emblems of the Passion. At the base of the window two angels are shown
holding a label on which is the dedicatory inscription: "To the Glory of God, and in
memory of the men of this Parish who fought, suffered, and died in the Great War,
1914-1919". The artist was Mr. Horace Wilkinson, of London.
INCUMBENTS OF SHAW Top of page
[Note - Shaw was at first a District Chapelry, with a Curate-in-charge. In 1843 it
became a Perpetual Curacy, and in 1870 the incumbent became a Vicar.]
1838-1840 Thomas Henry Paddon (Curate)
1840-1841 George William Newnham (Curate)
1842-1848 Caleb Williams (Perpetual Curate)
1848-1882 George Nutt (Perpetual Curate and Vicar)
1882-1895 Francis Slater (Vicar)
1895-1928 Charles MacKenzie Steedman
1929-1955 Lionel Charles Littlewood
1955-1961 Leslie William Barnard
1961-1963 Tom Venables Hordern
1964-1969 Christopher C.B. Willis
1969-1994 Geoffrey E. Griffiths
1995 Graham Force-Jones
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