The Churchill Church

The Churchill Church

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The Churchill church was possibly built in the centre of Churchill in
about 1180 AD It was a small Norman style church. It had only a nave
and a sanctuary.

The Churchill church was possibly built in the centre of Churchill in
about 1180 AD It was a small Norman style church. It had only a nave
and a sanctuary. The shape may have looked like this,

The church was more than likely built in the centre of Churchill. This
made it much easier for the people of the area to get to the church.
The church was built from stone and was an aisle less nave leading
through a round-headed arch into a rectangular chancel.

During the 11th Century to the 14th Century the villages population
grew considerably. More land was also taken over for farming. The fact
that the population grew meant that the church would need to extend,
if it was to cater for more people. About 1290 a narrow south aisle
was added possibly to provide space at the east-end for the mortuary
chapel of the Fitzpayne family. Again the south aisle was extended
about 100 years later. The present aisle was built over and the
earlier extension was then cleared away. The porch also was built when
the second south aisle was built.

The church now looks like this:

At 1348-1449 there were many outbreaks of the Black Death. This meant
about 1/3 of the population died. This caused a halt to be put on
building extensions because there was not a need to extend the church
as there were fewer people going. The plague caused many of the people
from the centre of Churchill where the church is, to move a little way
away. This may be the reason why the centre of Churchill has moved.
People moved to where we call turnpike or the traffic lights on the
A38. Now the church in not in the centre of Churchill. By 1400 the
population began to grow again. Land became very important for sheep
farming because wool became a major trade. The wool industry made many
merchants rich. The rich people put money into churches so they had
money to extend, make new pews, build towers, get stained glass
windows, wall paintings and decorations etc.

In 1419 the original Norman chancel was rebuilt, heightened, and
extended eastwards to its present length. It also received mullioned
east windows, the side window and the piscina in the wall, with its
pointed arch and quatrefoil basin. This meant that within about 130
years the church had grown from a small rectangular church to an

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extended church. In 1180 it looked like this:

Now by 1419 it looks like this:

It was about half a century before the north aisle was added. The
pillars do not line up across the nave with those of the south aisle
due to the need to provide a staircase to the rood. A short time later
a start was made on the tower and vestry properly by Sir Nicholas St.
Loe. He became possessed of the Manors of Churchill and

Puxton through his marriage to Agnes, granddaughter of John Fitzpayne,
the last of the lords of Churchill bearing that name. She died in 1479
and the tower may have been a memorial to her.

The very first church built was the Norman chapel. As I have said it
was an aisle less nave. A survival from this early building is a bowl
of the present font in which children of the village have been
baptised for the last 800 years. The font stands near the main door;
this may symbolise the entrance to the church through baptism. From
researching fonts, I think that the font in this church is Norman.
This is because Norman fonts are tall and narrow. Also it is most
common that Norman fonts have a circular bowl and are raised in a low
pillar. Norman fonts may be very plain. As you can see from this
picture the font fits the Norman description perfectly.


This font may be evidence to show that the original church was built
as a Norman Church at about 1180.

A way in which we can roughly find out when the to extensions were
done because of the windows. The different style of window meant that
it was made in a different centaury or period. However dating
accurately is difficult. The size of the window may be affected by the
position of the window e.g. windows in the north of a church are often
smaller than those on the south because less light comes from that
direction. Styles have also changed features of the outgoing styles
often merged with the style coming into fashion. Where there are
features from two periods, this usually indicates a transitional, in
between periods. Also designers and builders made local adaptations.

Here is a window from the north extension it is very narrow but tall
and isn't a decorated as many other windows in the church.

North Extension Window

I feel that this window is from about the 13th century. This is
because the windows from this period were thin, long windows which
were broken up into several parts. Also at the top of the windows are
patterns called plate traceries. The fact of the window being from the
13th century may prove that the north extension was done in the 13th
century. Previous research shows that the extension was done in the 15th
Century so the two dates don't match up. I believe that so the church
didn't have to buy new windows, the existing window from the original
building may have been removed, then used in the north extension.

South window

This next picture shows one of the windows from the second south
extension. I believe that this window is from the 14th century. This
is because in this period the windows were larger than the 13th
century and the tops of the windows had bar traceries. Previous
research shows that the south exertion was built in the 14th century.
This means that the church may have bought new windows, instead of
using any older windows from the main building. Also this shows that
the extension was done in the 14th century.

Tower window

This next picture is of the window in the tower or vestry. This window
is even bigger than the one from the 14th century and is possibly the
biggest window in the church. I have found out that this window was
from the 15th century. The window has more elaborate traceries and
there is more glass, this allows more light in. Evidence shows that
the vestry was made in the 15th century this matches the period of the
window. This may prove that the extension was done in this period.

North Column South Column

Another way in which we can roughly tell the age of the extensions is
from the columns and arches. The columns don't line up across the
nave; this was due to space needed to provide a staircase to the rood.
The south column is a very simple design but the north column is much
more complex. Straight away this shows that the north extension was
done much later than the south. The south columns are octagonal and
Norman. This may prove that the first south extension was done in the
13th century (because it is Norman).

The north column is of a much later period. They are square, placed
diagonally between the nave and the aisle, and have small circular
shafts surrounding them.

The north columns are from the 15th century this evidence may show
that the north extension was done in the 15th century, which previous
research shows that it was.


The arches also help date the period when the extensions were done.
These arches on both sides are the same; they are thin and pointed at
the top. This evidence may show that the arches are from the 13th -
14th century. This covers the two extensions the north extension and
the first south extension. It is hard to get an exact date from this
evidence because the style of arch didn't change very much for 2-3
centuries. This picture is taken looking down the main nave, you can
see the two types of columns and the arches. If the extensions was not
made the original church would look very narrow in proportion to its

In the 15th century carving wood in to bench ends was known as a great
achievement. They were named poppy heads, which comes from the French
word "poupee" meaning puppet. Many wealthy people left money in their
Wills for carved bench ends, not only the poppy heads but carved
panels as well. The puritan church reformers destroyed many of the
bench ends in the 17th century. The old bench ends were hand made and
possibly had woodworm. You could tell that the pews were hand made
because they were rough, they were held together with wooden pegs and
untidily cut. The newer pews in the extensions are very neatly cut,
and they don't have woodworm. Also the poppy heads on the bench ends
seemed to be the original.

poppy heads

In the east side of the south extension there is evidence of a
possible side chapel, it may be for important families. There is a
piscina, a squint, a crest above the squint on the wall, and a brass
memorial. There would be no need for a piscina if there was no altar,
so there must have been altar. This means there would have been two
altars and two piscinas so what would be the point?


The squint may also suggest that there was a side chapel. This is
because the opening in the wall allowed the special family to see the
other altar.


Also it may be so a second priest could imitate or copy what the main
priest was doing, in the proper service. The side chapel may have only
been small, and the evidence I feel shows that there was a side
chapel. This is because there would be no point in having two piscinas
and altars if only one was to be uses.

From 1530-1660 there were a series of religious changes and bitter
conflicts over what the official religion should be, Catholic or
Protestant? The reformation in England began during the reign of Henry
VIII. Henry got rid of the pope and closed the monasteries, but didn't
do much else to make England a protestant country. After he died it
was his son Edward VI and his chancellor of Northumberland who really
tried to change the church from catholic to protestant.

In 1500 virtually every person in England was Catholic. Catholics
believed that the altar is the facial point of the church, and it
should look spectacular and there should be ornaments and candle
sticks on it. The church should be highly decorated with wall
paintings and coloured windows to show gods glory, power and mystery
also it was because Catholics believed that gods house should be
beautiful. This may be how part of the Catholic Church looked:

There should also be mystery in religion, this may include the rood
screen to stop normal people or peasants from seeing the main ceremony
around the altar, and the service should be done in Latin. Priests
should wear special clothes to reflect their special status as they
were the link between god and man. The pope is the head of the church
and god appointed him. He knows best of what god wants the church to
do. Oppositely Protestants believe Jesus Christ is head of the church
and Christ is more important than a human leader like the pope.
Ministers, the equivalent to a priest, have to wear simple robes, this
is because they are ordinary people and unlike catholic priests they
are free to marry. In the protestant church their beliefs are that
churches should be simple and plain. A simple church brings people
closer to god. The altar should be replaced from a stone altar to a
wooden table. This is because they believe that what would be the
point in having an expensive stone alter which is covered up by a
cloth, when you could have a cheap wooden table covered be a cloth,
and it would look the same. Also there shouldn't be any ornaments,
which may distract people from focusing on god. The wall paintings
should also be white washed as the colourful church may distract you
from focusing on god. This may be how part of the Protestant church

Instead of the bible and services being in Latin they were changed to
be in English so people could understand them.

Out of the three sources I have looked at, source A is about a
Catholic Church. Sources B and C are about the reformation and the
changes in the church. Source A describes what Melford Church looked
like in the 1520's. It describes how behind the stone altar there was
a carving of Christ's crucifixion, also at the north of the altar
there was a large gilt image of the holy trinity. It goes on to
describe what the original Catholic Church looked like. It uses
descriptions of the rood screen as examples of this.

"A rood loft, with the rood and Mary and John."

The last two sources describe the reformation. Source B describes how
the Melford church sold many of their Catholic things.

"Sold to Mr Clapton the altar in our Lady Chapel for 6s 8d."

"Sold 300lb of wax for £2 10s."

The selling of the catholic ornaments, the candle sticks, gold and
silver was done by protestants so the church fitted their beliefs i.e.
the piscina was smashed, the rood was taken out,

This is evidence of rood screen.

the ornaments and candles were sold, and the walls were whitewashed
etc. The reason why the protestants sold the ornaments, got rid of the
decorations and whitewashed the walls was because they believed that
the decorations distracted people from god. (source B) At the same
time the church was spending money to have various jobs done.

"7s 1d paid to Rafe Borom and his lad and Robert Alefounder and his
lad for taking down the images."

"1s 2d paid for the taking down of the Font and the high altar."

This describes what changes were being made to the church i.e. taking
down the altar. Also how the church paid people to make the

These sources show the effect of the reformation in the 16th century.
The information in source A Shows what was in the original Catholic
church in the 1520's. Source B it shows what was sold when the church
was reformed. Source C shows that during the same period of time
(1547-1548) the church was spending money to have various jobs done.

Churchill Church is now a protestant church, it was a Catholic church
but has now changed. Inside the church there are many pieces of
evidence, which may show the effects of the reformation on the local

In the Catholic Church the walls may have been very colourful.
Protestants possibly whitewashed the walls about the mid 16th century.

These two pictures show the possible changes in the church during the
reformation. The walls have been whitewashed and that is how the walls
are in the church today.

In the sanctuary, the Catholic altar was possibly stone. Protestants
may have changed the stone altar to a wooden one. This is because they
may have believe what would be the point in having an expensive stone
altar, when you could have a cheap wooden table, also it would do the
same job.

From this picture, you can see that the walls have no paintings on
them, also the altar wooden. Over a period of time the things like the
candles have been places on the altar again; you can see this from the
picture. I feel that the painting next to the piscina on the right,
may be there to replace the wall paintings which has been covered
during the reformation. Behind the altar there is no Redoes, before
the reformation there may have been one, there is no evidence of the
redoes before the reformation.

In the possible south chapel, the part of the piscina where the bowl
sits is smashed.

This may be because the Protestants didn't believe in the same things
as the Catholics did. Smashing it made it so the piscina couldn't be
used to hold the bowl any more.

The Rood screen was taken down; we can see this from two pieces of

1. You can see there are little pieces of replacement stone in the
pillar where the rood screen would have been. The replacement stone
may have been placed where the supports for the rood were fitted.

2. As you can see from the second picture there is a blocked up
doorway. This doorway may have had a valuable ornament placed in it
after it was blocked up. This doorway next to the cancel arch may have
been the top of a tower. The tower was used for cleaning or getting to
the rood loft.

The stained glass in the window is quite modern. During the
reformation the stained glass may have been replaced with clear glass.
There is no real evidence to prove this; the glass has now possibly
been replaced with stained glass at a later date.
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