The Church of St Laurence,
Bradford-on-Avon, is on the northern side of Church Street, about
seventy metres west of the meeting point with the River Avon. Its
date of origin is debatable, falling somewhere between AD 700-1000,
but it remains one of the country's most complete Saxon churches. It
was replaced as parish church by Holy Trinity just across the road,
but still sees the occasional service after having been restored
from other uses such as a school and house.
St George's Church, Semington, lies on
the southern side of Church Street, about 110 metres east of the
junction with the High Street. Semington's early history is closely
bound to that of Steeple Ashton, as it formed a chapelry within
Steeple Ashton's ecclesiastical parish. A chaplain was serving here
by 1370 but the first mention of the dedication to St George dates
only to 1470, with the chapel nave and porch being built in the same
The chancel was added in the early sixteenth
century. A tower was also added, probably in the 1700s, but this was
removed in 1860 when the east and west walls were rebuilt. A small
bell-turret replaced it and the interior was completely remodelled.
The roof was also replaced and a new font installed. The bell at the
west end of the chapel was recast around 1850 from a pre-Reformation
bell said to derive from the chapel at Bulkington. The vestry was
added in 1870.
Semington Wesleyan Methodist Chapel is
at the north-east corner of the High Street and Church Street
junction. In 1676 the village had 207 nonconformists and two
dissenters. The home of William Beaven became a meeting house
for Independents in 1783 and that of David Marks for Methodists
in 1797. On 27 April 1819 a Methodist chapel was opened,
presumably here. A new chapel was built in 1884 with a Sunday
School added in 1912. The chapel closed in 1981.
St Giles's Church lies on the
south-western edge of the abandoned village of Imber, overlooking
the southern half of Salisbury Plain. There was a settlement here
by AD 967. The land was held by the Abbess of Romsey as part of the
Edington Estate. In 1086 it was recorded as being divided between
Romsey and the earl of Hereford. Military activity on Salisbury
Plain began in 1897, increasing rapidly during the two wars, with
the War Office moving everyone out in 1943.
The church occupies the site of an earlier
building dating from the mid-1100s. The nave was rebuilt towards the
end of the 1200s and was followed around 1400 by the addition of the
north and south aisles, the distinctive five-point tower, and north
porch. Then the nave roof was reconstructed. The chancel was rebuilt
in 1849 at which time the north-east vestry was built. The once-rich
church fittings were parcelled out to other churches in Wiltshire
Three photos on this page by P L Kessler, with
two kindly contributed by David White, and one by Sam Weller via
the 'History Files: Churches of the British Isles' Flickr group.