Like nearby St Peter, Windrush, Little Barrington was originally a dependent chapel on St Mary's Church at Great Barrington which was dedicated by Alfred, Bishop of Worcester, in 1159. At about this time the church and two chapels were appropriated to Llanthony Priory. The rights of the church over the Chapel were continually challenged and they were lost by the 14th century. Little Barrington remained a separate entity until, in 1929, Little Barrington, Great Barrington and Taynton became a United Benefice. Then in 1974, a new United Benefice was created consisting of Sherborne with Windrush, Great Barrington and Little Barrington. In 1976 the Benefice of Aldsworth was united with these four parishes to create a new United Benefice which was named Sherborne, WIndrush, The Barringtons and Aldsworth and all these parishes continue distinct.
Here is a view of the south side of this lovely church. The Sanctus bell in its attractive turret is still in working order. The roof was renewed with Cotswold stone in 1980.
The tower, originally of one storey, was built in the 12th century in the unusual north west corner. The further two stories were added in the 15th century and battlemented. There are three bells in the tower ("1638 Halleluiah Cantate Sanctorum Psal 149 Laudem Eius Ant Cum", "Edward Neale 1659m Hamphrey Smith, John Godfrey, John Chadwern Trustees of the Church" & "John Rudhall 1832").
Four steps lead down into the south porch, which was enlarged in 1865 by William Townsend, a carpenter from the village, to improve the view of the fabulous arch over the south door. The arch, which William dismantled, cleaned and rebuilt, is transitional between late Norman and Early English style.
I have an artistic picture of the closed porch door in my photo album.
A further three steps lead down through the double oak doors, which are a memorial to Lt. Colonel Arthur Reginald Hurst from his widow, into the nave. Behind the organ, at the west end, is a blocked arch which was formerly the main entrance to the church. It was reached by a track leading from an archway which is now incorporated into a cottage on the east side of the village green. The west end of the nave once contained a men's gallery which, when removed in 1920, revealed stone benches which must have lined the wall on the south side in earlier times. The font is Perpendicular and must have once stood against a wall as the north face is rough and not decorated.
The nave arcade, of two circular arches supported on cylindrical pillars with scalloped capitals is 12th century. The remaining parts of the nave were rebuilt in the 14th century; new windows were added in the south and west walls in the 15th century and the south wall repaired in 1865. The pulpit was made in 1920 to the design of Mr Coleridge, from worked oak found under the former west gallery. It replaced a former pulpit given by Mrs Graeme.
Above the nave arcade is a painting of the Lord's Prayer, dated 1736.
The north aisle has several features of interest. The niches each side of the east window were uncovered in 1953 when the heating was installed. The single left one held a statue of the Virgin Mary (traces of colouring are still visible), while the double right hand niche (the traditional place for a statue of the Patron Saint) suggests that the original dedication was to St Peter and St Paul. Prehaps St Paul was dropped at the time of the Civil War when the statues were smashed and the niches defaced with a hammer.
The presence of the niches suggest that there was an altar below the east window, which still contains fragments of 14th century glass. The window can be dated 1360-1390. Traces of 13th (and possibly late 12th century) century mural wall paintings have been uncovered and left exposed.
To see the rest of the windows in the church, click here or on the photo above.
The stone head, now on the window sill by the organ, was found in the left hand niche, but was never part of a statue. It may have been a corbel or the end of a drip mould. It appears to be 12th century work.
There was formerly a gallery in the north aisle which was removed in 1920.
The chancel was rebuilt in the 14th century and extensively repaired in the early 19th century when the north (priest's) door was blocked as also was the squint from the aisle (reopened in 1954). Traces of stone work and wall plugs on the arch are thought to have been part of the supports for a rood screen. A rectangular piscina was uncovered in 1954 on the south wall and is likely 15th century. It has provision for doors or a shutter, which makes it unusual, perhaps it was used to hold the Reserve Sacrement.
The chandelier was a gift of a former Vicar, Rev. R. Rice, who also put in the medallion of the Crucifixion in the south window of the nave. The Communion Table is Jacobean and the altar rails were made by the estate carpenter, Jonathan Harris, in the 1850s. He was also responsible, with his son-in-law William Parrott for making the pitch pine pews in the nave.
On the outside of the east wall of the porch is this interesting group of stone figures, put up to the Tayler Family by William Mury, carpenter. The inscription reads: "Near this place lyeth the Body of William Tayler, senior, who was buried 14 May 1699, aged 45, and also of William Tayler, jnr, buried 3 October 1702, aged 21. Also of Elizabeth Tayler, wife of Wililam Tayler, who was buried 28 January 1726, aged 78: Mary, the wife of William Mury, daughter of William and Elizabeth Tayler, departed this life 11 November 1733, aged 49".
The figures appear to be much older than the inscription, but their origin remains obscure.
Pictures of the stained glass windows are available here.
Historical notes taken from a booklet available in the church.
Visitors to this album since June 2003
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