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Bremhill Parish

Bremhill, Foxham, The Tythertons & surrounding villages

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The history of the chapelry has been closely connected with St. Andrew's Parish Church, Chippenham. About 1150 the tithes of Chippenham and Tytherton Lucas were granted by Empress Matilda to the Cluniac Priory of Monkton Farleigh. After 1272 the tithes no longer passed to the Prior but to the Vicar of Chippenham who was required to pay the Prior 40 shillings per annum and provide for services at St. Nicholas at his own cost.

In 1553 the Priory drew an income of £43 18s. from eight churches in Wiltshire and one in Somerset, and £11 15s. 8d. in pensions or portions from 14 churches in Wiltshire. It received £162 1s 8.5d. from nine manors in Wiltshire, one in Gloucestershire, and other properties in Wiltshire, Somerset and Lincolnshire. All the demesnes except Farleigh were leased. The lease of Chippenham rectory had recently led to an auction in Chancery by the lessee in which the Prior was in effect charged with fraud. Out of a gross revenue of £218: £42 was paid in rents, £18 in fees, £3 13s. 4d. in alms, and £1 16s. 6d. in other dues. The clear income was therefore £154 [= ca. £50,000 today]; the Priory was dissolved in February 1536. [1]

Certain parts of the fabric of the medieval chapel remain: the trefoil-cusped doorway, the Y tracery of some windows, the East window with intersected lacery and the octagonal pillars with their stiff-leaf capitals. The squint to the left of the chancel arch is unusual and both may also stem from this period. The Norman tub-shaped font is of mid-12th century and bears signs of temporary removal and reinstatement and possibly some evidence of retooling. It also shows signs of having possibly used at some time as an animal drinking trough, was subsequently reinstated on a new pedestal. The base was cleaned in 2000. The long waisted bell which hangs in an open cot, one of the oldest in Wiltshire, dates from the 13th century. There is an indentation in the stonework of the cote which suggests that the bell had become dislocated from the supporting beam. Another smaller open cote on the South gable may possibly have housed a 'Sanctus' bell, given that two bells are recorded in a survey record of 1553. [2]

Surprisingly, the Wiltshire-born antiquary and historian John Aubrey (1626-1697) found 'nothing of antiquity' when he visited the building. Indeed, by 1650, the chapel was in such bad repair that the parishioners wished to unite with East Tytherton, Bremhill and Langley Burrell to form an independent parish.

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