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Bremhill, Foxham, The Tythertons & surrounding villages

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St John the Baptist Church

Church of St John the Baptist, Foxham

In 1556 records show that a chapel was in existence at Foxham dedicated to St John the Baptist. At that time land was given in trust to the chapel by Andrew Bayntun Esquire, presumably to preserve it.

The exact site of the chapel is not known today but it is known that it deteriorated badly in 1857; the charity commissioners were approached in an attempt to revive the original trust and thus raise money for its upkeep and repair. Unfortunately the charity had lapsed and all its records had been lost.

The old chapel may have been burnt about 1870; a small remnant only remains and is positioned just inside the churchyard gates in the right.

The new, existing church was dedicated in 1880, as a chapel of rest. The building was paid for by the Marquees of Landsdown and cost £2300.

William Butterfield Esquire was the architect, and the building you see today is still as he designed it. It represents the Early English style consisting of a chancel, nave vestry and South porch.

It has a tower which houses two bells. The spire is unusual, as it surmounts a wooden bell house and is hung with wooden tiles.

The interior of the church gives an impression of simplicity and cleanliness. The chancel is separated from the nave by a tall oak screen which forms a dominant feature. The vestry leads off the chancel and on the North side is a small single manual organ.

The stained glass windows in the East wall are reputed to be the work of Frederick Preedy. They depict the Nativity, Crucifixions and resurrection and the dedication shows that it originally commemorated two persons who were drowned at sea. The left and centre windows have small motifs showing Lamb and Flag of St John the Baptist. The right hand window has a motif of a pelican feeding its young, a symbol signifying the body of Christ as it feeds His flock.

Frederick Preedy was both an architect and a worker with stained glass. His work was frequently used by William Butterfield in the churches he designed. It is possible that Frederick Preedy’s wife originated form this area as he, his wife, daughter and his wife’s father are buried in the churchyard in a double grave on the West side of the path approaching the porch.

The nave houses the lectern and pulpit. These with the choir stalls and altar rails are simply designed in oak. The other furnishing of note is the font at the rear of the church which is a solids construction in blocks of Bath stone.

The bell pulls hang in a recess in the West wall. The two bells date from 1879and appear to have been cast specifically for the new church by John Warner and Sons of London. The bells sound a Treble and a Tenor note.

The altar cloth, pulpit fall and bible markers were made in 1979 by Janice Williams of Epney in Gloucestershire. Their design reflects some designs found in the Victorian floor tiles and these designs have also been used in the tapestry kneelers.

The church was thoroughly cleaned and redecorated in 1986 and it was whilst redecorating that the design seen on the roof was uncovered. This design of maroon lines and fleur de Lys on a pale blue background was restored.

The churchyard has some grave stones that pre date this church. They are from the churchyard of the original chapel. The gates to the churchyard are new, dating 2009. At the request of the Parishioners the church was finally consecrated by the Bishop of Ramsbury in 2003.

With thanks to Elizabeth Hannah for the information.

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