St Mary, Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire

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Feature Sets (2)


Great Bedwyn is a village on the River Dun about 13 miles W of Newbury. The church lies to the S of the village on the site formerly occupied by the Anglo-Saxon church. The building is a flint with limestone dressings structure erected from the 12thc consisting of a chancel (rebuilt in the late 13thc), an aisled nave (dating to the end of the 12thc), a S porch, a N vestry and a central tower. The clerestory was refenestrated in the 15thc, while the transepts and crossing date from the early 14thc. The W façade was built in 1843 and the church was heavily restored in 1853-5 by Thomas Henry Wyatt. Romanesque sculpture survives on the nave S and N arcades.


The Domesday Survey records that in 1066 and in 1086 'Beduinde' was held by Brictward the Priest, and a church is also mentioned. The revenues of the church were granted to Salisbury Cathedral in 1091 as part of a prebend along with St Michael, Little Bedwyn. The prebend of Bedwyn as a whole was valued at £50 in 1291.


Interior Features



N arcade

The N arcade is of four bays and features slightly pointed arches resting on circular piers. The bases of the piers are high attic types with spurs. The inner order of the arcade arch is plain with a narrow chamfer on the edges. The outer order is plain with a narrow chamfer on the edge on the aisle side, and with two lines of frontal to the face chevron to the central vessel. The label is hollow chamfer decorated with cylindrical billet.

The plan of the nave, an elevation of the N nave arcade and a detail of the arch of the nave arcade were illustrated by Buckler in the early 19thc. 

Height of E respond and Pier 2 capitals 0.27m
Height of Pier 1, 2, 3 and W respond capitals necking 0.04m
Height of Pier 1 and 3 capitals 0.28m
Height of W respond capital 0.31m
Semi-circumference of W respond half-column 1.05m
E respond

The E respond features a half column with a Perpendicular panel cut into its surface. The N face of the capital has foliage in the mouths of the trumpet scallops. The W face has pointed section trumpets and the lips of the scallops terminate in half leaves inside the mouths of the scallops. On the S face there are five petalled leaves inside the mouth of each scallop.

Pier 1

The N face of the capital has alternating round and pointed section trumpets. In the mouths of the round ones there are multi-petalled flowers. The E face has the same theme but the rounded-section scallops do not have flowers in the mouths. The same face has the same alternating theme but two of the pointed and one round scallop have foliage in their mouths. Two of the scallops have mouths with serrated inner edges. The W face has trumpet scallops with trefoiled leaves at the junction of the scallops.

Pier 2

The N face of the capital has trumpet scallops emerging from sheaths with fleur-de-lys where the mouths of the trumpets meet. The E face has trumpet scallops with the lips around the mouths of each scallop finishing in small half leaves. On the S face there are similar trumpets with single leaves in each mouth. The W face has multi-lobed, triangular-shaped leaves between the trumpets and between each trumpets the lips terminate in small, three pointed stars, like simplified fleur-de-lys.

Pier 3

The capital has trumpet scallops with swirls of foliage in the mouth of each scallop. Between the scallops, beneath the mouths, there are small bunches of foliage and similar leaf forms are used to decorate the corinthianesque volutes at the corners. These resemble the volutes decorating capitals in the choir of Canterbury Cathedral. The surface suggests that the capital has been firmly restored.

W respond

The W respond consists of a half column. The E and S faces of the capital are decorated with trumpet scallops with prominent lips that finish with small balls. The N face has plain trumpet scallops. At the corners are volutes treated as clumps of foliage.

S arcade

ASs for the N arcade, the S arcade is of four bays and features slightly pointed arches resting on circular piers. The general profiles of this arcade are the same as the N arcade.

Height to top of abacus 2.44m
E respond

The decoration of the E respond capital is broadly similar to that of pier 1 but the forms are a bit chunkier. There are no small clasps between the pairs of leaves and the leaves on pier seem more fluent in execution.

Pier 1

All four faces are decorated with two rows of sideways facing, five-lobed leaves with pronounced spines. The massing of the capital, nevertheless, resembles that of a trumpet scallop.

Pier 2

On the N face there are three heads that look as if they have been attached later to the surface of the capital. They do not appear appropriate for the 12thc. The E face has three pairs of leaves treated like touching hands and beneath there is a leaf form resembling the ‘spade’ from a pack of cards. At the four corners the volutes are decorated with leaves like stiff leaf foliage. The S and W faces have four pairs of the crossing-over trefoiled leaves forming small crockets.

Pier 3

The capital has five trumpet scallops on each face with pairs of leaves inside each mouth. 

W respond

The W respond features a half column. The capital has seven-lobed leaves with each lobe being concave and a strong central spine, and trefoiled leaves decorate the volutes at the two corners.


The Buildings of England comments that the arcades capitals are "unfortunately atrociously over-restored".


  • B. Ferrey and J. Wooldridge. 1840. Lambeth Palace Library ICBS 2754.

  • C. E. Ponting, 'Notes on Churches in the Neighbourhood of Marlborough', Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine, 28 (1894), 120-46.

  • Historic England listing 1365492.

  • J. Ward, 'Great Bedwyn, Tile Pavement in old Church', Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine, 7 (1862), 103-4.

  • J. Ward, 'Great Bedwyn', Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine, 6 (1860), 261-91.

  • N. a., The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire, Gloucester 1965.

  • J. Buckler, Unpublished album of drawings. Devizes Museum, vol. 8, pl. 49.

  • N. Pevsner and B. Cherry, Buildings of England: Wiltshire, Harmondsworth 1975, 255-6.

  •  A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 16, Kinwardstone Hundred, Victoria County History, London 1999, 8-49.

Church from NW


Site Location
Great Bedwyn
National Grid Reference
SU 277 643 
now: Wiltshire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Wiltshire
medieval: Salisbury
now: Salisbury
medieval: St Mary
now: St Mary
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Allan Brodie, John Wand 
Visit Date
28 August 1992