St Augustine's church, Upton Lovell
St Augustine's Church, Upton Lovell

There was a Saxon settlement here on a bend in the River Wylye. The Domesday Book called the settlement Ubetone. It was only in the 14th century that the suffix 'Lovell' was added to the village name after John, 5th Lord Lovell of Titchmarsh, became Lord of the Manor.

Five generations of the Lovell family held the manor here, but after the Lovells backed Richard III in the lead-up to the Battle of Bosworth, it was seized by Henry VII.

We get a fascinating glimpse into medieval life in the records of Bishop Waltham (1388-95), who visited Upton Lovell in 1394. The Bishop found St Augustine's church in good condition, but was alarmed at a report that 'Stephen Mason had assaulted William Porter when he was carrying the Host'. It must have been a lively service! The Bishop summoned Mason, who denied the charge. He was found guilty, however, and was beaten and 'dismissed as a pauper'.

The Norman font
The Norman font

A Royalist Rector

In 1619 Thomas Hickman became rector. Hickman was a staunch Royalist, and when the Civil War broke out he formed a mounted troop at his own expense, and sent the troop off to fight, with his son, Samuel, in charge as captain. The younger Hickman died at the Battle of Newbury, hit by a cannonball.

Reverend Hickman was deprived of his living under Cromwell. In 1645 he was brought to trial, his possessions seized, and he was thrown in prison for a month. When released he had to pay £100 to have his possessions returned. Despite several petitions to Charles II after the Restoration of the Monarchy, the family was never recompensed for their losses.

The Crouch Bequest

In 1794 the rector, John Crouch, gave the interest on £500 to hire a schoolmaster to teach 6 poor children. The children attended lessons every day, except at harvest time, and were expected to learn reading, writing, and on Sundays, their religious catechism. The school was held in the maste's house, but in 1847 rector William Gray released glebe land beside the rectory as space to erect a school building.

A school house was built in 1871 and later became a 'National School' under the auspices of the National Society for Promoting the Poor in the Principles of The Established Church. It is now the village hall and stands almost immediately opposite the west door of the church.

15th century Lovell effigy
Early 15th-century Lovell effigy


The slender font is 12th century, made of Tisbury stone. On the south side of the chancel is a worn effigy of a knight, his armour in a style used from 1380-1430. On the effigy's left arms the date 1422 is carved. We do not know who the knight is meant to represent, but it may be John, the 5th Lord Lovell (d. 1408), or his son John (d. 1414).

On the wall beside the effigy is a memorial brass of a priest. The style of sleeves suggests a date before 1350, and the long hair is also suggestive of the early 14th century. Above the effigy is a small piscina, probably 13th century. On the opposite side of the chancel is a stone aumbry cupboard with dogtooth moulding, suggesting a 12th-century date.


I loved St Augustine's; the interior is full of historic interest, and the setting is idyllic. The little village hall (the old schoolhouse) was a delightful Victorian counterpoint to the medieval church.

Helmet detail on the Lovell effigy
Helmet detail on the Lovell effigy
Sword-belt closeup
Sword-belt closeup
14th century brass of a priest
14th-century brass of a priest

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About Upton Lovell
Address: Up Street, Upton Lovell, Wiltshire, England, BA12 0JW
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: Beside the village hall, on Up Street, off the A36. Usually open daylight hours.
Location map
OS: ST944408
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


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