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The Navity of John the Baptist Broadwindsor

The Navity of John the Baptist

This large and attractive church stands above the village and harmonises brilliantly with it.  It is very probable that there was a church on the site in Saxon times, but there is now no evidence of it.  The earliest indications are from C11. The cylindrical columns of the south arcade are C12 and originally would have carried curved arches and not the present pointed ones, which belong to the Norman/early English period.  The north aisle was added in C13.  During C14, the nave roof was raised and the a clerestory inserted, the tower was built and the chancel extended eastwards.  During C15, the tower was remodelled with a new stair turret and the south aisle entirely rebuilt.

Towards the end of C17 or early C18 a double-decker gallery was installed to accommodate the choir in the upper storey, while the lower was for men who were not prepared (or perhaps unable?) to rent pews in the main body of the church. 

In 1818 the rood screen and loft were removed.  By 1848, along with many other churches in the county, the building had been allowed to seriously decay and there was a proposal to dramatically improve the building, including a spire for the tower.  However this proved to be too expensive and improvements were restricted to just a new porch, repairs to the tower and, interestingly, the box pews were increased in height so that the incumbent could only see his congregation when he was in the pulpit!  The rent from pews was a most important element in the income of the church and the position and quality of the individual pews were crucial to the social standing of the families renting them.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

 

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