church history

Lydiard Millicent is still very much a community in its own right despite being just a few hundred yards from Swindon’s western border. The village centres on the crossroads of ancient trade routes, a pond and the charming parish church of All Saints. The village is a mixture of ancient stone farmhouses, older cottages and newer in-fill developments. Like Swindon it has grown enormously over the last 50 years, more than tripling in size to a population of about 1,500.

The village’s origins go back at least as far as the Domesday Book of 1080 when there is a mention of Lydiard Manor. This was owned by the Norman knight Geoffrey de Clinton and his descendants until 1429 when it was sold to Robert Andrews. In 1457 Robert Turgis became Lord of the Manor and he rebuilt it from scratch. The house he built remained until 1880 when it was destroyed by fire, then rebuilt in the 1960s.

The church sits in relatively small grounds, bordered on East and South sides by roads and stone walls of unknown age. The North and West brick boundary walls date from 1715. Entrance to the grounds is either via a set of stone steps to the South, or a gate with an archway (date unknown). The clock on the bell tower was installed as a war memorial after WWII. On the Southern part of the grounds many headstones and tombs survive, albeit in increasingly poor condition, 6 of which are listed and go back to 1707. Of most historical significance is the churchyard cross, the shaft is believed to be Saxon and was probably the baluster mullion of a window of that period, providing some hint to the existence of a pre-Norman church. Headstones in the northern grounds have been uplifted and the area is now grass.

The earliest documentary record of the building goes back to 1060, when William FitzOsbern endowed his possessions in England, part of which was the Church of Lydiard Millicent, although little evidence exists of a building before the 14th century. Entering the church through the South porch, you arrive in the south aisle which is 14th century, recent dendrochronology has dated a roof timber as being cut down in 1341, and used by 1345. Straight ahead is the oldest internal feature, the Norman font, dating from mid 12th century. The east window is a stunning piece from Margaret Edith Rope (“Tor”) installed in 1963. The nave and 2/3 of the chancel are 15th century, probably around 1457, when Turgis was granted a royal licence to rebuild the Parish Church, and the tower a little later. Under the nave, adjacent to the font, is the Kibblewhite vault, which contains 18 interments from 1814 to 1895. The end 1/3 of the chancel dates to 1870 when an extension was added, retaining the 15th century east window. The vestry contains a Saxon frieze, found in the wall infill during the 1870 extension. The pulpit, currently at the NE end of the chancel, is Jacobean and has had a nomadic life, spending around 100 years in Braydon church while Mr McKnight’s Victorian one had pride of place, this appears to have been recycled into other pieces of church furniture. The western tower contains 6 bells, the oldest three bells date from 1712, two more were put in place in 1906 and a third in 1932, these were restored in 2003. The organ, built in Bibury Church in 1868 by Mr Nicholson of Worchester and restored in 1964, sits in the base of the tower.

Other more modern features include the social area, used as a crèche during services, and is the focus for other events. It also houses the church resources  and notice board. A sound system, with radio microphones and hearing aid induction loops was installed in the 1990’s, and updated in 2004.A pillar attached stand for a data projector was put in in 2012 plus a large screen which rolls away when not used.An accessible toilet was opened in June 2015 with a new access path.All these additions help us to use our Church to the Glory of God, for worship and mission.