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 St. Mary's 
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A Tour of The Church of St. Mary, Swindon, Wiltshire

For visitors to St. Mary's there is a leaflet available inside the church to take you on a 'guided tour' of the building.  We were given permission to copy it and have added a few photographs of some of the features mentioned.  Full sized versions of the photographs can be found on the appropriate pages using the links above.  Enjoy your tour!


The SOUTH PORCH by which you entered dates from the 13th Century.  Turning right along the South wall there is a list of Incumbents and titles of the Living since 1308 under the window.
Beyond the window a wooden table commemorates the dead of the 1914-1918 War and gives thanks by name for those who returned.

By the present choir stalls is a plaque remembering Vicar E. R. Knapp and the addition of a sixth bell to the tower.
Above the chancel is the old royal coat of arms.

The organ occupies half of a 14th Century SIDECHAPEL.  The East end still contains an intact piscina and the ancient parish chest with its three keyholes, one each for the incumbent and the wardens.

The East and South walls of the SANCTUARY are from the 13th Century.  High up on the South wall is a memorial to a William Holcroft, thought to have been prepared in his lifetime.  Below it is a double piscena which has been cut back flush with the wall.  The handsome Communion Table is free-standing.

The triple lancet East window has detached slender round pillars, only apparent at close range.  The Ascension window was installed as a World War I Memorial.  To the left of the CHANCEL is the North East extension of 1962.  In the East wall is the "Cornelius and Ezra" window, a memorial to a former patron, which until the 1962 extension was in the North Wall of the sanctuary, which was then about half its present size.  The window during that time was not visible to the congregation.

On the same wall of the sanctuary was a diamond-shaped memorial to the Rev. H. Streeten, the vicar during the 1848 extension of the church.  This was moved to the corresponding position on the new North wall and now incorrectly states that the church as it now stands is a memorial to Mr. Streeten's efforts.  Beyond the North wall here there are new clergy and choir vestries.

Moving towards the NAVE there is an unusual wooden lectern and to its right, the modern pulpit moved from the pillar by the lectern in the 1962 extension.  The modern FONT has recently been brought forward to the front pew below the pulpit, the move conveniently to baptise before the congregation.

Moving towards the back of the church you pass in turn the old zinc plates displaying the Creed, the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer.  You will now be approaching the concrete gallery introduced in the 1962 extension.  (In 1848 "hideous and disfiguring galleries" were removed!)

The doorway below the gallery opens into the former choir vestry under the TOWER (1848-1962).  The tower formerly stood on the two pillars now carrying the chancel arch, and the first pillars in the nave.  In the rebuild of 1848 it was erected at the West end.  The pinnacles are a modern additon.  The South-East one blew off in 1928, part fell through the roof of the nave damaging a pew in the South aisle, the repair of which is still visible.

At the back of the nave are monuments to Arthur Evans, High Sheriff of Wiltshire and his daughter Mrs Catherine Wayte.  She is remembered for having endowed a school at Haydon Wick in 1806.   (The school has since been demolished.) She also provided much of the church silver.

The GALLERY is approached by the staircase at the West door.  At the foot of the staircase is a photograph of the Rev. T. I Echalaz, Vicar 1859-62.  From the Gallery it is possible to examine the West window, "The Four Evangelists", and 14th Century glass which has been retained, set at random, in the tracery above the nave windows.  Leave by the West door.

Looking upwards at the tower you will see the four figures of Ezekiel and Revelation, an angel, a lion, an ox and an eagle, sometimes referred to as "The Four Evangelists".
Standing at the angle between the tower and the North aisle you will see a small carved rectangular stone to the left of the bottom of the nave window, and high up to the right, below the ringing chamber window, a carved semi-circular piece of similar stone.  The stones are noticeably different from those used in the rest of the building and may have been part of a Saxon preaching cross on the site before ever a church was built here.  The Rev. E. R. Knapp was interested in the theory and a cross using the design and proportions of the two pieces was prepared and stands on his grave near the South door.

Walking around the church on the North side you will reach the NORTH-EAST EXTENSION which was built to match the old chancel, except for the clerestory window which was moulded in concrete, of the same design as the face work of the gallery.

Returning to the Porch you will pass a collection of box tombs, no longer in their original position but gathered together in a tidying up of the yard.  It is still illegal to remove tombstones from a churchyard, but it was considered reasonable to incorporate them in the church floors and the tower staircase during alterations.

The TOWER contains six bells on an iron frame.  The CLOCK (1881) is a seven-day weight-driven movement displaying a single face to the South and striking the hours.  The present tenor bell, 8 cwt 7 lbs, dates from about 1575 and the last bell was added in 1921.

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This page was last updated on 23/08/2022 12:49:28
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