Friday, 27 September 2013

Wylye, Wiltshire

Taking advantage of a friend's 50th party I left home early last Saturday intending to leave the A303 at Wylye and do a run of ten churches. However I failed to factor in near stationary traffic between the A404 and the M3 on the M25 and so only managed seven.

To the unaccustomed - i.e. those of us from East Anglia (of which I'm one) -  these SW stone built churches look decidedly odd; where's the flint and clunch? That is not to say they are without charm but that they are a decidedly different kettle of fish to what I am used to and the countryside is breathtaking.

St Mary the Virgin was open (in fact most of the churches were and the ones that were locked I didn't get until after five o'clock so I'll give them the benefit of doubt) and is lovely though, apart from a very good pulpit, not very interesting inside.

I don't have Pevsner for Dorset or Wiltshire so it's just Mee for the following entries.

St Mary the Virgin (2)

Pulipt (1)


Wylye. The church is mainly 15th century but the chancel is of 13th century origin and the tower arch 14th century. The rector, Thomas Dampier, who was here from 1759 to 1831, put the candelabra in the nave the year before Waterloo. The silver chalice is more than four centuries old, and the pulpit was carved in Shakespeare’s day. It has graceful stair-rails and is a wonderful piece of craftsmanship. In its top panels are four winged cherubs; in the middle panels are trees in arches, all but one burdened with fruit; in the bottom panels doves spread their wings and have olive branches in their beaks. The back is panelled, and has a dove, a tree, and at the top a gilded pelican in piety. The canopy is lavishly carved and in its centre is a golden sunflower. The lectern is the same age as the pulpit, and of the same rich design; and the sanctuary has three old armchairs with richly carved backs, one with two figures on it.

The 500-year-old tower is brave with battlements, pinnacles, gargoyles, and pierced windows, and over the porch is a carving of the Crucifixion now blurred by sun and wind and rain.

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