Sherrington, St Cosmas & St Damian Church
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Jacobean wall text paintings
The tiny village of Sherrington lies on the south bank of the River Wylye, beneath the slopes of the Wiltshire Downs. A water mill still stands on a site mentioned in the Domesday Book, and pretty thatched cottages face onto the stream. It is without doubt one of the prettiest villages I've ever visited in Wiltshire, and that's saying something!
There was almost certainly a Saxon church here, and after the Norman Conquest, the estate was granted to the Giffard family. Just northwest of the church is the remains of the Giffard family's motte, or castle mound, though no trace of any fortification atop the motte remains.
We know that there was a minister here in the 12th century, a man named Odo of Cerintonia, who was also known as a writer of fables. The earliest part of the current church, however, dates to the 13th century. The dedication to St Cosmas and St Damian is rare in England; there are just five churches in the country bearing this dedication. Cosmas and Damian were Syrian brothers, and the patron saints of travellers and healing.
The earliest feature of the church is the font, but there is more to the font than meets the eye. Behind the font, leading under the church towards the moat surrounding the castle motte is a channel, or drain. In 1959 restoration revealed a skeleton in the drain channel.
An odd place for a burial indeed, but perhaps the skeleton predated the church and was that of a murdered man thrown into the ditch. We simply don't know but it adds a bit of mystery!
The church was rebuilt in 1624, and the interior is like a time-capsule of Jacobean style, with a waggon roof, carved bench ends, and communion rails. When the church was restored in 1959 a skeleton was found in a hollow under the organ. This was probably the remains of a Tudor rector named John Carter (d. 1554) whose will asked that he be buried 'in the Chauncell of Cosme and Damian'.
The pulpit is late 17th century, and if you open the door you can see, set into the interior wall, tablet with the initials G.I. and the date 1614.
There is an amusing story attached to the pulpit; apparently the door had to be widened because it was too narrow for a rector named Mason Anderson. He must have been a large man, for he had a hole made in the floor of the nearby rectory so that he could be winched up to bed each evening, seated in a chair.
On the walls are a series of Jacobean texts, surrounded by pillar and scroll decoration. These texts were used in Tudor and Jacobean churches as a form of religious education, replacing the imagery of medieval paintings. Sherrington church possesses an unusually complete version of the Jacobean text.
Entering the chancel the two westernmost windows have lovely 14th-century glass, gathered here from around the church. You can make out a figure of St John the Evangelist among the fragments. Elsewhere are 5 panels of medieval glass brought from the European continent.
One roundel behind the altar shows St Rosalie of Palermo, with an inscription describing her as 'Patroness against the Plague', a reminder of how big a role the deadly plague played in medieval life.
Among the historical monuments in the chancel is a grave slab, obscured by the altar table, to William Hobbs, who died in 1670. There is a royal coat of arms to Queen Anne, and a 17th-century needlework cross of Spanish workmanship.
Over the south porch is a heraldic shield to Thomas Lambert of Boyton, who owned the estate from 1608.
Sherrington is such a pretty village, and the church of SS Cosmas and Damian does not disappoint. There is so much history here, and so much to enjoy. An absolute delight.
Address: Church Lane, Sherrington, Wiltshire, England, BA12 0SN
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: Sherrington is off the minor road between Boyton and Stockton, on the south bank of the River Wylye. Limited parking along the verge. Usually open dayligt hours.
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
Codford St Peter - 0.6 miles (Historic Church)
Boyton, St Mary's Church - 0.6 miles (Historic Church)
Codford St Mary Church - 1 miles (Historic Church)
Upton Lovell, St Augustine of Canterbury Church - 1.4 miles (Historic Church)
Knook, St Margaret's Church - 2.2 miles (Historic Church)
Fisherton Delamere, St Nicholas Church - 2.5 miles (Historic Church)
Tytherington, St James Church - 3 miles (Historic Church)
Heytesbury, St Peter & St Paul Church - 3 miles (Historic Church)
Nearest Accommodation to Sherrington: