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Listed Building
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Ordnance survey map of CHURCH OF ST MARY THE VIRGIN
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
Bishops Cannings
National Grid Reference:
SU 03773 64181


BISHOPS CANNINGS CHANDLERS LANE SU 06 SW (east side) 6/112 Church of St Mary the Virgin 19.3.62


Anglican parish church for former episcopal estate. Early to late C13, C14, C15, restored 1862-3 and 1883. Ashlar limestone, with lead roofs to nave and aisles, stone tiled to transepts, chancel and south porch, and slate to south chapel. Cruciform plan, comprising short nave with aisles and south porch, transepts with east lady chapel to south transept, and 2-storey vestry, partly of flint, on north side of chancel. Central tower with spire. Nave and aisles have 3-light windows with Perpendicular tracery, but triple lancets to west end. Large clerestory windows and crenellated parapet with pinnacles concealing higher pitched roof of former C13 nave. South porch has cusped traceried outer arch, damaged, and ballflowers on tendrils. Gabled string over with large leaf crockets and flanking panelled buttresses, being a C15 encasement of the late C13 porch. Transepts have gabled buttresses, corbel table and lancet windows, the Lady Chapel similar but refaced in C19. Chancel c1250, with offsetting buttresses and plain parapet, 'Y' traceried windows on south replacing multiple moulded lancets as on north side. East end reworked in C19. External stoups by north aisle and north transept doors, and mass dials on porch, which also has remains of stoup. Sundial with gnomon on gable of south transept. Tower has nook shafts at angles rising to corbel table. Two blind lancets at ringing level and 3 tall lancets to bell stage, all with pierced stone screens. Stair tower at north east angle rising high above roof and conical capping. Plain parapet and simple octagonal spire. Porch is vaulted, with undercut foliage boss at intersection and cylindrical corbels. Inner doorcase has nook shafts with scrolled capitals carrying early C13 round arch with corbel at its apex. Interior: Nave of Early C13, arcades of 4 bays, pointed arches of 2 orders on round columns with trumpet scalloped capitals. Unplastered walls above reveal positions of 4 clerestory windows each side, the eastern sills raised when rood screen access inserted. Western lancets have stiff-leaf foliage to internal shafts. Roof of 5 king-post trusses dated TW 1670 WS, wall posts on large stone corbels in forms of heads of kings and bishops. North aisle has 2 western lancets, the lower late C12-early C13, the upper with the adjacent aumbry, serving a former floored area under the early steep roof. Aisle roofs replaced when walls heightened. Blocked :stair in north aisle led to bridge across aisle to rood screen. Crossing is inserted later in early C13 work: heavy octagonal piers carrying lierne vault, a C15 reworking of an earlier crossing. Carved bosses at intersections of vault, and central circular bell-lift. South transept has 2 heavily moulded arches on east side with stiff-leaf capitals and shafts. Wall rebuilt further out. Trefoiled early-mid C13 piscina, with credence shelf. C15 wall painting of ashlar in reveal of west windows. Eastern chapel, to Our Lady of the Bower, also C13, converted to Ernle chapel in 1563. C19 iron screen. Chancel of 3 bays, late C13, with quadripartite ribbed vault on round attached columns and capitals, and carved bosses at intersection of double- shafted ribs. Blocked south priest door. Inserted late C13-early C14 two-bay sedilia partly obscuring earlier piscina with blocked low window to exterior. Mid C13 piscina at east end with bowl supported on twin columns. North transept, now choir vestry, also has stilted eastern arches with stiff-leaf capitals. Blocked north door. Sacristry of 2 storeys, the ground floor C13, and upper floor a late medieval alteration. Fittings: Font: Late C15. Octagonal with quatrefoiled panels on short octagonal column, all raised over 2 steps. Pulpit: C19. Openwork oak on corbelled stone base. Nice brass and iron handrail with crozier terminal. Lectern: C19 oak eagle. Chancel altar: c1830, limestone, panelled with cinquefoiled panelled stone reredos. Organ: 1809, by George Pike England, given by Captain Cook's navigator, William Bailey. Gothick case, refurbished 1884 but some original pipework., Pews, 1883 by Hems of Exeter, with carved bench ends. Furniture: Crossing Altar: C17 table with carved top rails and stretchers. Offertory Box, also C17, heavy turned column with octagonal head bound in iron and with the 3 locks required by Canon Law. Carrel, early C17, free standing box with moulded seat and desk and a high side panel with top moulding, probably C15, bearing a joyless painting of early C17 (?) depicting the hand of meditation. In Lady Chapel: C16 table with baluster legs, stretchers and raised runners, and a C17-early C18 houselling bench. Monuments: Chancel south wall: Tablet, white marble on slate, to Thomas Brown of Horton, died 1822, and later family. North wall: four wall tablets, C19 white marble on slate. From east; (a) Gabled panel, to Frances Macdonald, died 1838, by Osmund of Sarum. (b) Sarcophagus with draped urn over, leaf bracket below and shaped. panel behind. To Elizabeth Ruddle Gibbs, died 1816. (c) Draped urn over corniced panel, to Thomas Skeate, died 1831, and wife. (d) Simple panel, to George Ruddle, died 1801, and wife, by Holbrook of Bath. Also a limestone monument, a shouldered panel with pediment, gadrooned base and fluted apron, to Rev. John Shergold, died 1777. In Ernle Chapel, wall tomb, 1571, limestone. A chest of 3 panels with shields on strapwork. Flanking pilasters rise to frame central arched recess. Entablature and cresting with arms and mantled helm against a scrolled gable. Inscribed panel on strapwork cartouche within recess, to John Ernle of Bourton, died 'A thousand, five hundred threescore and a leven'. On east wall, a floor based wall monument, purbeck marble panel in white marble frame, and purbeck columns. Steep broken pediment with central coloured arms on mantled field. Flaming lamps on gable ends. To Edward Ernle of Ichilhampton, died 1656, and his grandson Edward. Also a good floor slab to Martha Ernle, 1716. Brasses: In chancel eleven C19 brasses from 1862 to 1922. Nave: Two Barrow Mogg brasses. In south aisle, a copper repousee Art Nouveau memorial to the Boer War, on oak shield. External monuments: On south porch, 1792, a limestone panel with crest and apron and illegible inscription between pilasters. On south transept: Shaped limestone panel, C18, scrollwork around a weathered inscription. On chancel: 1735, an aedicule with fluted pilasters and broken pediment, to Sarah Gambler of Devizes, and further monument of 1734, a panel with heavy foliage around, to Mary Sloper. Glass: East window: C13 design by Wailes. Pale figures in south chancel windows. Mediaeval graffiti on south-west tower pier. (Pevsner, Buildings of England: WILTSHIRE; Brief church guide 1982)

Listing NGR: SU0376464173


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Brief Church Guide to Church of St Mary the Virgin, (1982)
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Wiltshire, (1963)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

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Date: 28 May 2006
Reference: IOE01/15504/30
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr John Rendle. Source Historic England Archive
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