The Church of St James is a plague church, originally constructed to serve the inhabitants of a hamlet called Little Stoke, in the coombe between Bratton Castle and St James’, but which was abandoned due to the Black Death, and its effects, during the 1340s-60s. It is nowadays an active church serving the nearby village of Bratton.
St James’ is largely of 13th Century origin, and is constructed in the Early English Gothic architectural style, with some later additions. It is open to visitors during daylight hours, and there are guidebooks, Spiritual Walks and activities for children to undertake.
Bratton Down as a whole is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is noted for rare chalkland plants, butterflies and moths. There are walks to St James’ Church from both the village of Bratton and from the White Horse/Bratton Castle area, passing through woodland and by the side of chalkland streams.
Also located on Bratton Down is a marker stone for the Battle of Ethandun in 878AD. This battle was Alfred the Great’s most significant victory over the Danes, which ultimately brought about the Treaty of Wedmore that year, and the establishment of the English nation.
Saint James the Great : Church Road, Bratton, Wiltshire, BA13 4SY
This small church was consecrated in 1856 and consists of a Nave and Chancel 58ft long by 20ft wide. There is a vestry 7ft by 4ft at the north-east corner and a covered south-west entrance porch.
The walls are 13.5 inches thick, built of brick and local flint, the open pine roof being boarded and slate covered. The Church fittings include a small oak Pulpit, a stone Font with oak cover locally made and some oak panelling on the east wall behing the oak Holy Table.
The church and land was given by the Burdett family and the four windows in the Nave were given subsequently by Sir Francis Burdett. All denominations use the Churchyard as their burial ground. A new brass plaque was installed in 2001 on the south wall of the Nave to commemorate both the life of Francis Burdett Fisher, a generous benefactor and supporter of the Church who died in 1993, and the donation by his widow, Mona Burdett Fisher of land to extend the Churchyard on the east side.
The sculpture of Saint Michael by Ulrica Lloyd on the south wall was erected in 1964 in memory of Margaret Jane, widow of Sir Alexander Gordon. A second plaque was added in 2003 to commemorate Anne and Roger Lloyd, of Riverside House.
St Michael : Marlborough Road, Axford, Wiltshire, SN8 2EX
St. Michael’s with its clock and bell-tower, is a dominant feature above the village green and adjacent to the church-aided primary school. Services are held each Sunday and include a variety of styles of worship.
It is thought that a wooden church may have existed in Aldbourne as early as the 7th or 8th century and the Domesday Book (1086) records that the church held two hides of land, sufficient for two plough teams, to provide for the church and priest.
There is evidence that a Norman church was built in the twelfth century and in the reign of Henry III (1215-72) the church was completely rebuilt possibly following fire. In 1865 a major restoration was begun which was dedicated by the Bishop of Salisbury in 1867.
More recently, the chancel was re-ordered in the late 1980’s when the altar was moved from the East End and the church redecorated throughout.
St Michael : Crooked Corner, Aldbourne, Wiltshire, SN8 2EL