St Nicholas Church, Winsley

Winsley, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire
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St Nicholas Church, Winsley

The church at Winsley was originally one of the chapels of the mother church of the large parish of Holy Trinity, Bradford. The date of the first building here is unknown and the first surviving record of it seems to be from 1349, although there is mention of Bradford possessing unnamed chapels  in 1291. Unfortunately, the church was largely rebuilt and only the tower now remains from the medieval building.

Winsley church before rebuildingThis drawing, by an unknown artist (perhaps W.W. Wheatley), shows St Nicholas in about 1800, before the major changes were made. The tower was at the west end of an aisleless nave. The tower is in the perpendicular style of the 15th century with a possibly later saddleback roof. The nave’s windows have flat tops, suggesting a date slightly later than those of the tower. It is battlemented with a curious higher section above the entrance from the south porch. The chancel is lower and seems to have a tall narrow pointed lancet window in its south wall, perhaps indicating that this is a remnant from a 13th century building. The other windows of the chancel have been inserted later. This drawing and another by John Buckler show steps leading up to a door at the eastern end of the nave, perhaps leading to a rood loft.

rebuilding Winsley churchJudged to be too small, the nave and chancel were demolished and a new building was erected to the north of the site of the old one in 1841. The rebuilding was recorded on a marble plaque which bears the names of the Bradford Vicar, Henry Harvey and his Curate, Charles Sylvanus Meech. Also, at the base, the Winsley Chapelwarden, James Baber who was probably the man behind the work. Baber (c1791-1866), from a Bradford and Bath family, owned a lot of property in Winsley, including the Murhill stone quarries and had contacts in Bristol. He could have arranged for Bristol architect Richard Shackleton Pope, a colleague of Isambard Kingdom Brunel,  to do the design. Stone windows from the old church are said to have been reused in the big house called Burghope.

old photo of Winsley church interior.. Winsley church interior

The interior of the 1841 church in an old photograph and as it is today.

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Clergy of Winsley

An ecclesiastical parish of Winsley with Limpley Stoke was created out of parts of the ancient parish of Bradford in 1846, under its own vicar. Prior to that the chapel of St Nicholas was served by a curate.  The parish was recombined with South Wraxall and Monkton Farleigh in 1964, to which was added Christchurch in Bradford in 2010 and is now styled as a Rectory.

  • Lewis Rew Cogan (died in 1862, buried in Bristol) first vicar 1846-1862
  • Francis Stephen Forss (died in 1892, buried at Limpley Stoke) 1862-1892
  • Joseph Samuel Sandys MA, curate 1889-1892
  • Reginald Walter A. Angelsmith 1892
  • Charles A. Sladen, curate 1893-1895, became Vicar of Burton, Cheshire
  • Thomas Francis Baker 1922-1959
  • Homer Hill 1961
  • William A. Matthews 1973, became Vicar of Holy Trinity, Bradford on Avon
  • David C. Ritchie 1981
  • Derek G. Smith 1984 -of Winsley, South Wraxall and Monkton Farleigh
  • Robert S, Green 1999
  • Howard K. Jameson 2005
  • Ann Keating -first Rector  2010

Rev Angelsmith had a brief moment of national notoriety in September 1909, when he was summoned before Bradford magistrates for assaulting Winsley parish nurse Margaret Sperring. He apologised and the case was withdrawn.

Winsley and Atworth church towers -an article by Mike Marshman (opens in a new tab)

 

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