History & Architecture

It is reasonable to assume that the the church originally served as a chapel for the residents of the adjacent Hall, though it is uncertain when it was actually built. The marble base of the font is established as 13th Century though the actual fabric of the church is much older, generally assumed to be around 990 from the time of Edmund the Elder. The millenium was marked in 1990 by a beautiful flower festival and photgraphs of this can be seen on the right of the vestry door.
 
The Porch c.1450

Alpheton Church PorchThe porch has been successively restored, the front having been last refaced in 1913.
Of considerable interest is the lovely roof with its tie beams and battlemented wall plates.
An unusual feature is the middle rail on the east side which is moulded to form a shelf.
The Stoup for holy water and the doorway are of the same period c.1430 and the latte, with its carvings of foliage, pomegranate and Tudor rose is a particularly good example of 15th Century craftsmanship. It is possible that the heads on either side of the doorway represent sovereigns of the period.

The Nave
Alpheton church, NaveBeneath the Tower Arch once stood an image of St. Katharine, a favourite saint of this neighbourhood. By his will of July 6th 1473, one William Maykyn "Bequeathed to the keeping and maintenance of a wax light perpetually to be found, and to burn upon the Lord's Day and Festivals, before the image of St.Katharine in the church of Alpheton, a young cow".In those days it was common practice for a benefactor to bequeath a heifer to a church. This was then hired out in order to raise the money necessary to comply with his last wishes.
On the north wall of the Nave are the remains of a wall painting of St.Christopher. though its details are faded , the main outline can still be traced, and an impression of the original drawn in 1913 can be found nearby. On the south side of the Nave, the windows contain some 15th century glass.

The Pulpit
Alpheton Church Pulpit
The Pulpit is Jacobean, though the base is modern. Originally three decker it stood on the north side. Prayers were read from the lowest stage, lessons from the middle and sermons from the top
In 1976 the Church was fortunate in its acquisition of a pipe organ. The organ case dated about 1825. It clearly once housed a barrel organ and alist of tunes unfortunately beyond deciphering is pasted inside the back panel of the case. The organ itslef is of a later date. In 1989 the ceiling of the Nave was repaired and further repairs carried out on the windows and Tower.










The Bells

There are now only two bells, the two largest having been soldin 1780 "to pew the church". The inscriptions on the two remaining bells are "Robert gurney made me, 1667"
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The Font
Its 13th century base of black Purbeck marble had four corner pillars. The upper part or bowl, disappeared and was replaced by 15th century octagonal work. The cover is modern, having been placed there to commemmorate the death of King Edward VII in 1910.




The Pews

The poppy heads and some of the choir stalls are almost certainly of medieval construction. A number of them were made from oak trees grown in the grounds of the old Rectory.


The Chancel Arch
The niche on the south side shows considerable traces of colour. It probably once held an image of a saint or the Virgin Mary and was destroyed along with the Rood Screen during the Reformation. On the North side the niche has been recited higher on the wall to accommodate an opening made in 1839 through which the choir could see and hear the preacher more easily. In 1906, the decayed base of the old Rood Screen was replaced by a stone one, and the staircase to the Rood Loft, hidden since 1839 was rediscovered and opened to view. Nothing remains of the actual screen, but it is apparent that it was secured in the grooves cut into the stonework of the arch.


The Chancel
Alpheton Church ChancelThe back of the priest's stall is composed of two misericords (a small shelf for leaning on during long periods of prayer).
The 14th century Piscina(a shallow basin for washing the communion vessels) and Sedilia (stone seats for the priest during Mass) were probably fine examples of carving of the period, although only the Piscina and the Sub-deacon's seat to the west retain their ogee arches.

In 1934, the church with crumbling tower, leaking roof and decaying butresseswas in a lamentable state of repair. Much is due to the boundless energy of the Rector of the time "Father Joe" Williamson (1895-1988) who approached every person of note in the country inlcuding the Royal Family and finally secured the money necessary to carry out restoration work. Three windows including the East window have been repaired and reglazed, oil heating installed and the exterior newly rendered. In 1996 the old oil heaters were replaced with under pew electric heaters. Also at this time the bells were brought back in use again and a parishioner donated new ropes.

The hassocks embroidered by the ladies of the Parishwere refurbished and do much to enhance theinterior, while outside the churchyard, where many parishioners still ask to be buried, is kept tidy with many new trees planted over the years to enhance the peaceful and beautiful place. All the continuing work is testmony to the fact that the present parishioners of Alpheton are still eager to preserve this ancient and lovely church.

From a booklet originally written and compiled by Mrs E.F. Morris and Mr A.H.Morris, Churchwarden 1967-87, designed and printed by Mr R.V. Morris Churchwarden 1977-78. Revised by Sir Anthony Mullens 1997.
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Coat of Arms before restoration, Alpheton Church             Coat of Arms restored, Alpheton Church
Coat of Arms before restoration in 2012                                   Coat of Arms after restoration in 2012

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