St Michael, Aldbourne, Wiltshire

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Feature Sets (3)


The nave of the church was rebuilt in the first half of the 13thc., reusing one scallop capital in the north arcade, and voussoirs in three of the arches of the south arcade.  The south door of the nave, though very heavily rebuilt and restored in the 1863-7 restoration by Butterfield, dates from the twelfth century. 

 The chancel dates from the 13thc. and the south chapel from c.1300.  The other alterations to the church, including the provision of a clerestory in the nave, date from the 14th or 15thc..


Aldbourne was held by Gytha, Earl Harold's mother, in 1066 and by King William in 1086. It was assessed at 40 hides and was home to a total of 150 named peasants of various classes, suggesting a total population of 600 or more. This large settlement had 4 mills and a church with 2 hides of its own, held by the priest.

It was later granted to a Count of Perche and was held by Count Rotrou of Perche in 1135, passing successively to his son Rotrou (d.1191) and his grandson Geoffrey (d.1202).


Exterior Features


S nave doorway

Round headed, two orders with a label. The hood mould and outer order of the south door date from the 12thc..  The inner order may belong to the 13thc. when the nave was being drastically reconstructed.  In the 1863-7 restoration the jambs of both orders were replaced.  Two of the voussoirs of the inner order and seven sections of the hood mould were also replaced.  The replaced stone can easily be distinguished by its darker colour and crisper finish.

 The inner order has a roll moulding on its edge and the outer has a single row of lateral chevron on the soffit of the order.  The hood mould is decorated with square, stylised, floral motifs with four leaves with central spines.  The leaves meet in the centre and form a pyramid.

Height of opening 2.25 m
Width of opening 1.13 m

Interior Features



N nave arcade

4 bays, pointed arches. The north arcade has thirteenth century double chamfered pointed arches.  The only reused twelfth century element is the circular scallop capital of pier 2.  Between the scallops are small ridges which are triangular is section.  The capital is 0.24 m high and its abacus is 0.13m high.  The abacus has a shallow concave form between the top flat moulding and the bottom roll moulding.

S nave arcade

Four bays, pointed arches. 

The three eastern bays of the south arcade have reset 12thc. voussoirs forming the outer order and hood mould of the thirteenth century arches.  That the voussoirs are reset is demonstrated by stylistic and archaeological evidence.  The pointed arches and chamfered inner orders clearly date from the 13th rather than the 12thc..  The archaeological evidence is at the apex of each of the three arcade arches, where vousoirs have had to be cut into irregular shapes to complete the arch.  

In bay 2 the outer order of the arch is decorated with three lines of cylindrical billet and the hood mould has shallow saw-tooth decoration on its angled face. 

 In bays 3 and 4 the outer order is decorated with 2 rows of lateral chevrons on the soffit and the hood mould has a series of shallow relief semicircles with small triangles between.  The edges of both motifs are picked out with a shallow groove.


As the south nave arcade contains the reused voussoirs, and the south door dates from the 12thc., it is likely that the 12thc. nave probably consisted of three bays and had a single southern aisle.  In the 13thc. this was rebuilt and extended westwards, and the north side of the nave provided with an aisle for the first time.


  • N. Pevsner and B. Cherry, Wiltshire, Buildings of England, Harmondsworth, 1971.

  • A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 12, Victoria County History, 1983, 67-86.

subject ALDBOURNE, groundplan of St Michael by W. Butterfield, 1866-1867. Image from Church Plans Online (Published by the NOF Digitise Architecture England Consortium).


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SU 264 758 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Wiltshire
now: Wiltshire
medieval: Salisbury
now: Salisbury
medieval: not confirmed
now: St Michael
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Allan Brodie 
Visit Date
10 December 1993