About Our Church

 

ST. SWITHIN'S chuch, so called in 1763, was built of rubble and freestone and has an aisled chancel with a north vestry, an aisled and clerestoried nave with north porch, and a west tower. Of the 12th-century nave, part of the west wall survives. The north aisle was added to the nave in the late 12th century, the south aisle in the early 13th; the chancel, partly rebuilt in the early 13th century, remained small. The walls of the aisles were rebuilt, probably on their original lines, in the 15th century; that of the south aisle may have been rebuilt again in the 18th. Also in the 15th century the tower and the clerestory were built, the chancel arch was enlarged, and an ornate stone screen with rood loft and integrated pulpit was erected. A medieval north porch was rebuilt apparently in the 18th century and again in the later 19th. In 1865-6 the chancel aisles and vestry were replaced by one designed by Henry Woodyer. Three bells were hung in the church in 1553 including one believed to have been cast by John Walgrave around 1420. Further bells were added in around 1620 by the Purdue family and the ring was increased to six in 1983 by the addition of a bell cast in the same year by John Taylor & Co from Loughborough. In 1998 a local resident of Compton Bassett broke into the church and cut through the bell ropes because she "could not stand the noise of the bells any longer".  Ms. Midge Mather telephoned the Police and told them what she had done; she was given a conditional discharge for her actions. In 1983 the rectory was united to the benefice of Oldbury to form a new Oldbury benefice.

THE REGISTERS

Registers of marriages and of burials survive from 1558 and of baptisms from 1563. All of which are complete.

CHURCH REVENUES

Compton Bassett church was standing in the late 12th century and it was given then to Bicester priory, which received an income from it until the Dissolution. Inhabitants of Compton Bassett may have been buried at Calne before Compton Bassett church was built, and a claim to oblations on the burial of parishioners of Compton Bassett was only given up by the owner of the revenues of Calne church in 1228. Presumably because Bicester priory took some of the church's revenues, the rectory was among the poorer livings of the Avebury deanery in 1291, when it was valued at £5. But by 1830 the rectory was valued at £497 and had become one of the wealthier livings in the diocese. The rector’s income was then drawn from the tithes of up to 2,500 acres of the parish. The rectory house was said to be in a poor state of repair in 1783 and in 1842 a large new house, incorporating part of the old, was built of stone in a 16th century style. It was sold into private ownership in 1968.

NONCONFORMITY

In 1680 William Weld, the lord of Compton Bassett manor, was a papist. The rector was ejected for nonconformity in 1662, and in 1676 there were 21 protestant nonconformists in Compton Bassett. Most were probably members of the two Quaker families recorded in the parish between 1660 and 1675; another Quaker who lived in Compton Bassett died in 1777. By 1783 there was said to be no dissenters in the parish. In 1823 a meeting house was licensed for Independent Methodists, in 1834 another meeting house was licensed, and in 1838 a further one was licensed for Primitive Methodists. By 1864 there were no places of worship in the parish for nonconformists.

St Swithins Compton Bassett

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