East Knoyle, St Mary's Church
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Saxon cross shaft outside the tower, and 17th century plasterwork
East Knoyle will forever be associated with Sir Christopher Wren, the architect of St Paul's Cathedral. Wren was born in a cottage in East Knoyle in 1632. His father, also named Christopher but generally known as Dr Wren, was rector at the time. Due to a fire at the rectory the family had moved into temporary quarters in another cottage. That cottage has now been demolished, and no trace remains, but the rectory where Wren spent much of his childhood still stands.
Dr Wren's plasterwork originally included cherubs on the chancel ceiling, but by the late 19th century they were beginning to fall off, and were removed in 1876.
One day while Dr Wren was overseeing the work of his plaster designs, a troop of Roundhead soldiers broke into the church. They arrested Dr Wren and knocked the heads off the figures of the Apostles over the chancel arch. The figures remained headless until 1850 when the rector's wife replaced them herself.
The south east window in the chancel has stained glass by Thomas Willement, a Victorian glass-maker who deserves the credit for reviving the art of stained-glass making. The window is a memorial to the Seymour family, and contains their coat of arms. The tiles and reredos are by Sir Arthur Blomfield and are a very good example of high Victorian style.
Sir Niklaus Pevsner has described the Victorian mock-Gothic chancel arch as 'a terrible imitation Norman' work. I didn't think it was that bad!
On a nave column near the arch is a very worn 13th century head carving. In the nave is a very nicely carved 17th century font. The west window (in the ringing chamber under the tower) has some very nice stained glass, with one panel showing a grinning figure sticking out his tongue!
St Mary's church was open when we visited.
About East Knoyle
Address: Church Road, East Knoyle, Wiltshire, England, SP3 6AE
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: On church road. Easy parking along the road or in the village centre. Usually open daylight hours.
Website: East Knoyle
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Berwick St Leonard Church - 3.2 miles (Historic Church)
Mere, St Michael's Church - 4.4 miles (Historic Church)
Old Wardour Castle - 4.5 miles (Castle)
Kingston Deverill, St Mary's Church - 4.6 miles (Historic Church)
Gold Hill Museum - 4.8 miles (Museum)
Shaftesbury, St Peter's Church - 4.9 miles (Historic Church)
Shaftesbury Abbey Museum and Garden - 4.9 miles (Abbey)
Brixton Deverill, St Michael's Church - 5.2 miles (Historic Church)
Nearest Accommodation to East Knoyle:
Nearest Self Catering Cottages
Nearest Bed and Breakfasts
Tourist Information Centre
Tel: 01747 861 211
Alternate Tel: 01747 860 341
Fax: 01747 861 127