Edington Priory Church
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Baynton memorial
Edington church is unusual in that it was completed in a very short length of time (1352-61) and has remained largely unaltered since that time. It is one of the finest examples in the country of the transitional period between Decorated and Perpendicular Gothic architecture.
The church was founded by William of Edington, Bishop of Winchester, who chose his own birthplace as the site of a new religious house for the Bonshommes (literally 'Good men'), an order which followed the Augustinian rule. The church was built upon the site of an earlier 10th century church, of which no trace now remains. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII the church continued to serve as the parish church for the village of Edington.
The font is 17th century, upon a medieval base. At the west end of the south aisle are several medieval tombs and stained glass rescued from the church at Imber when that building was evacuated to make room for military occupation of Salisbury Plain. Also in the south aisle, just behind the choir stalls, is a monument to Sir Ralph Cheney (d. 1401) of Westbury. This is in the form of a tomb chest of Purbeck marble with insets for funerary brasses. The Cheney memorial may originally have been a chantry chapel.
On the south wall of the chancel is a maginificent tomb of Sir Edward Lewys (d. 1630) and his wife Lady Anne Beauchamp (d. 1664). On the front of the tomb chest are five figures of kneeling children, two sons and three daughters. All of the figures face east. The workmanship is magnificent, but it is worth pausing to consider the extreme change in styles between the 15th century Baynton tomb and this, scarcely two centuries later.
There are fragments of 14th century stained glass, notably in the north clerestory and the north transept. The superb nave roof (1663) is worth noting. The 'vaulting' is plaster, but unusually, the plaster is not painted, but rather, it is pink all through. The crossing features more superb imitation fan vaulting in plaster.
In the chancel the space between the windows is filled with canopied statuary niches, now empty. At the base of each niche are quite wonderful carvings, dating to about 1330. The pulpit dates from the 17th century. It was originally a three-decker, but was subsequently cut down.
Taken as a whole, Edington church is one of the more enjoyable historic churches in this area, and well worth a visit.
About Edington Priory Church
Address: Edington, Wiltshire, England
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: On Monastery Rd, in the centre of Edington village, just off the B3098, 5 miles east of Westbury
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
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