Norton Bavant Snow Scene
Norton Bavant Snow Scene Norton Bavant Snow Scene Norton Bavant Snow Scene Norton Bavant Snow Scene Norton Bavant Snow Scene
 
Village History - The Church of All Saints  

There was no doubt an Anglo-Saxon church at Norton Bavant.  Small thatched buildings they were and in a number of villages the stonework in the foundations of the Anglo-Norman churches show that the later churches were built on the same sites.  At Norton we only know that a priest was there in the middle of the 12th century but as the Scudamores were then in possession of the manor it would be fair to assume that they built a Norman church as they had done at Upton Scudamore (where some of the early work can be seen) and at Fifield Bavant.

The earliest work in the present church are part of a Norman font, the 14th century arch to the chapel and the same period for the two lower stages of the tower.  The chapel housed a chantry at the altar of St Thomas the Martyr in the mid 14th century and this was possibly a Scudamore endowment but no details have survived.

The Bavants were patrons as lords of the manor, Lady Aleysia de Bavant (Alice Scudamore) in 1298 followed by her heirs Sir Roger de Bavant I, named in 1322, 1329 and 1332, then sir roger de Bavant II in 1335, 1348 and 1351.  First mention of the Prioress of Dartford as patron is in 1381, although her title was queried in the script.  The vicars are also named for these dates.  (See Sir Thomas Phillips: Institutione clericorum in comitau Wiltoniae W.R.O.).

Most of the subsequent rebuilding and extensions to the church date from c1500 onwards at the cost of the Benett family and others.  The chapel contains many monuments to this family and has a fine pair of iron gates at its entrance.  The Benetts prospered as wool merchants and cloth manufacturers, and brass shields in the chapel bear their merchant marks and pairs of shears.  One of the bells in the tower, cast at Bristol, is now over 600 years old.

In 1785 Thomas Fisher, rector of Bishopstrow and vicar of Norton Bavant, said that there had been no collections in the church of Norton – the communicants were very poor people, objects of charity.  And in 1634 some of the villagers of Norton were found guilty of playing the game of fives on Sunday, although the church was in decay.

During the last few centuries vicars often held the benefice of Norton in plurality with other nearby livings.  Today it is joined with Sutton Veny.

There was a small chapel, dedicated to St Stephen, in Middleton, the oblations belonging to the vicar of Norton but no more is known of this thatched building after 1443 when already it was partly ruinous.  Sometime before Domesday (1086) Osbern Giffard had given his manor of Middleton to St Stephen of Fontenoy, Calvados.  Following the forfeiture of the Giffards’ lands, those of the lords of Brimsfield, they were given by Henry VI in 1441 for the foundation of Eton College.

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