High Street, Cricklade, Wiltshire, GL7
A medieval parish church declared redundant in 1981 and returned to Catholic use in 1984 on a ninety-nine year lease. It is an architecturally significant building on Cricklade’s High Street and includes work of various periods from the twelfth century onwards. The return of a medieval parish church to Catholic use is relatively rare and adds to the building’s significance. Churchyard monuments include an important medieval lantern cross.
Before the Second World War a Mass centre was located in Gas Lane in a building which had been used as a cinema. From 1946 the new Prior Park Preparatory School had its own chapel which was opened for public use but many local Catholics still preferred to use rented accommodation. In 1949 this was a Nissen hut in Waylands, in the early 1950s the Town Hall, then in 1955 the Baptist chapel in Calcutt Street was purchased to provide permanent premises as the church of St Augustine of Canterbury. By 1982 this was in poor condition and moves were put in hand to take over the medieval Anglican parish church of St Mary, which had been declared redundant in 1981. This duly took place with a 99-year lease being granted and the first Mass was celebrated here on 1 January 1984.In 1998 the Friends of St Mary’s Cricklade was established. The church is served from Fairford.
The building is described in the list entry, below. The building has undergone two major restorations, the first in 1862-3 by John Galpin of Oxford, including re-pewing. This seating scheme is of some significance since it is among the very latest Anglican schemes in which the seats have doors (in the earlier box-pew tradition). Galpin took out the dormer windows on the south roof slope of the nave, but these were reinstated in a second phase of restoration, under C. E. Ponting in 1908.
Furnishings which post-date the acquisition of the church for Catholic use include:
Former Anglican parish church of Cricklade St. Mary, now Roman Catholic parish church. C12, C13, C14 and C19. Limestone rubble. Stone slate roof. It comprises a nave, north and south aisles, chancel and west tower, with north chapel to chancel. Aisles have wide C19 three-light cinquefoil windows with labels. Chancel 2-light plate tracery, also C19. No clerestorey but two 3- light gabled dormers on south chapel is C13 with mid C14 three- light cinquefoil window and angle buttress. Open south porch. Clock of 1863 on east gable of nave and sundial dated 1822 replaces earlier on south chancel wall.
Interior: Nave of 3 bays, C12 with chevroned and cable moulded chancel arch, on scalloped caps, and C13-C14 three-bay arcades of 4-centred arches on octagonal columns. Simple chamfered tower arch to C13 tower, the chamfers with small trefoiled gable stops. Open C19 timber roof. Chancel C14 rework of Romanesque chancel extending it to east. Nave moulded arch on north to chapel, now organ chamber. Squints to aisles. C19 roof. East window 1862-3 by Galpin of Oxford.
Fittings: Font: C13 inverted column base on possible Roman capital as base, reset in C19. Pulpit: Mid C17 half-octagon oak with arcaded panelling. Altar table 1627 with stretchers between turned legs and carved fasciae. Organ by A.E. Pease of London. Other fittings C19. Furnishings, C18 brass candelabra and oak document chest. Church was further restored in 1908 and 1963-4 before redundancy in 1981. Parish amalgamated with St. Sampson’s 1952. Excavations of 1964 suggest that the north chapel walls are founded on Anglo-Saxon work associated with the town wall. (Thomson & Taylor in W.A.M 60 (1965), 75 and 61 (1966) 38.f.)
Listing NGR: SU1012893865
Piers, C19. Square limestone ashlar. Blind cusped gablets and cast iron lamp overthrow. Linked by limestone rubble wall to east end and continued beyond to No.60 (formerly Rectory) with another pier. Railings removed.
Listing NGR: SU1013693849
Churchyard Cross. C14. Limestone. Stepped stone plinth. Octagonal base with chamfered top. Octagonal shaft with head of niches to four sides, each with cusped ogee top containing figures on corbelled base, representing the Crucifixion, St. Mary, a Bishop with unidentified figure, and 2 figures. (Ancient Monument: Wiltshire No.680).
Listing NGR: SU1013793854
Pair of chest tombs. C17 and early C18. To north, cyma table and base. Scrolled end brackets. Incised panels on sides with scrolls around. Inscription not legible. To south, chest tomb with moulded table and base. Recessed corner balusters. To JOHN HINTON, died 1792.
Listing NGR: SU1011593863
Original Date: 1300
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed