Shrivenham St Andrew

A warm welcome to St Andrew’s Church Shrivenham

With the exception of the 13th century tower and a small bit of the west wall the church was built during the reign of Charles I, at a time when there was very little in the way of church building taking place in England. As such, it presents a rather unusual style - a merging of late Perpendicular and Classical.

In 1638 Lord Craven had the medieval building dismantled, leaving intact only the tower with its crossing arches. He then built long arms from each of the tower arches to create the building we see today. You enter through a paved 18th century west porch, where there is a royal coat of arms to George III, dated 1764. The lead panels are thought to originally have been incorporated into the roof. As you enter the church itself you will find a sense of space and light; the nave roof seems to soars above your head, but the roof supports are not aligned with the slender elongated Tuscan columns. The huge Perpendicular windows let in an enormous amount of light, like the space between the columns they are rounded at the top but only on the inside of the church. Within the church there are a number of monuments to members of the Barrington family, major benefactors, who lived in Becket House, now part of the Defence Academy. These monuments are numerous and some are very grand but of particular interest, tucked away in the North West corner is a monument in white marble to Admiral Samuel Barrington, a naval hero who in 1759 captured the French vessel Count de Florentine off St Lucia. The French captain's white flag of surrender was brought back to St Andrew’s church. As we move to the east end the oak pulpit is of Jacobean design and used to have three levels. The tower has a ring of ten bells. Mears and Stainbank cast the six largest bells in 1908, they also made the bells for Big Ben. Gillett & Johnston of Croydon cast two further bells in 1948. These were a gift from a US Army civil affairs unit that trained in Shrivenham before the Normandy invasion. The ring was increased from eight to ten bells in 2003 when the Whitechapel Bell foundry cast the present treble and second bells. In the chancel is a lovely brass chandelier dated 1726. The chancel floor is very striking, with a black and white design in marble. The east window has the only coloured glass in the church, including an image of a bishop with the date 1505. This may be John Hawkborne, Abbot of Cirencester Abbey which owned St Andrew's until the Reformation. The chancel walls have wonderful late 17th and early 18th century memorials, including that of Sir John Widman (d. 1693), a fascinating character who in 1683 was implicated in the Rye House Plot to kill Charles II. He later supported the Duke of Monmouth's abortive attempt to seize the throne, before throwing his support behind William and Mary. When William and Mary's bid for throne succeeded, Widman bought the position of Postmaster General. He was knighted in 1692, but died the following year. The Lady Chapel, is not dedicated to Mary the mother of Christ but rather unusually to that of Mary Magdalen, there is a hanging 18th Century ‘Pyx’ for the reserved sacrament, one of only about half a dozen known examples in the country. In the south aisle there is a much worn 13th century effigy which is probably a woman, but it is so worn as to make all identification pure conjecture. On the wall above this hangs the Benefactions board from 1786 which was restored in 2012. The font is late 12th/13th century and is made of black Purbeck marble. A more detailed description and guide book is available inside St Andrew’s.

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