Growing in the Love of God

The Upper Wylye Valley Team - Church of St Cosmas & St Damian Sherrington

sherringtonWe know that there was a minister here in the 12th century, a man named Odo of Cerintonia, who was also known as a writer of fables. The earliest part of the current church, however, dates to the 13th century. The dedication to St Cosmas and St Damian is rare in England; there are just 5 churches in the country bearing this dedication. Cosmas and Damian were Syrian brothers, and the patron saints of travellers and healing.

The earliest feature of the church is the font, but there is more to the font than meets the eye. Behind the font, leading under the church towards the moat surrounding the castle motte is a channel, or drain. In 1959 restoration revealed a skeleton in the drain channel. An odd place for a burial indeed, but perhaps the skeleton predated the church and was that of a murdered main thrown into the ditch. We simply don't know but it adds a bit of mystery!

The church was rebuilt in 1624, and the interior is like a time-capsule of Jacobean style, with a waggon roof, carved bench ends, and communion rails. When the church was restored in 1959 a skeleton was found in a hollow under the organ. This was probably the remains of a Tudor rector named John Carter (d. 1554) whose will asked that he be buried 'in the Chauncell of Cosme and Damian'.

insidesherringtonThe pulpit is late 17th century, and if you open the door you can see, set into the interior wall, tablet with the initials G.I. and the date 1614. There is an amusing storey attached to the pulpit; apparently the door had to be widened because it was too narrow for a rector named Mason Anderson. He must have been a large man, for he had a hole made in the floor of the nearby rectory so that he could be winched up to bed each evening, seated in a chair.

On the walls are a series of Jacobean texts, surrounded by pillar and scroll decoration. These texts were used in Tudor and Jacobean churches as a form of religious education, replacing the imagery of medieval paintings. Sherrington church possesses an unusually complete version of the Jacobean text.

Entering the chancel the two westernmost windows hae lovely 14th century glass, gathered here from around the church. You can make out a figure of St John the Evangelist among the fragments. Elsewhere are 5 panels of medieval glass brought from the European continent. One roundel behind the altar shows St Rosalie of Palermo, with an inscription describing her as 'Patroness against the Plague', a reminder of how big a role the deadly plague played in medieval life.

Among the historic monuments in the chancel is a grave slab, obscured by the altar table, to William Hobbs, who died in 1670. There is a royal coat of arms to Queen Anne, and a 17th century needlework cross of Spanish workmanship.

Over the south porch is an heraldic shield to Thomas Lambert of Boyton, who owned the estate from 1608.

Credit: Editor David Ross

Address and Contact Information:

Church of St Cosmas & St Damian
Church Lane
BA12 0SN

Churchwardens: Betty and Nigel Lewis 01985 850496