Saturday 31 July 2021

St Swithun Merton


This week we are back on track with my posts, I hung off a week to give me a chance to go inside the church. The first visit I walked around the outside and after taking all the photos I needed, I knew the church was locked but thought I would just give the phone number on the door a ring. After getting through to I found the key holder was in Devon so I told him I would come back in about five weeks. This time I phoned and got through and was told they would be there in 5min. after waiting a little wile I phoned again and this time after the person realised they forgot I was let in about 2 0r 3 min later. Looking around church was worth the wait.

" The Church of England parish church of Saint Swithun is Decorated Gothic, built early in the 14th century. It has a south aisle, linked with the nave by an arcade of four bays. Late in the 15th century the Perpendicular Gothic clerestory was added to the nave. The chancel windows and one window in the south aisle are also Perpendicular Gothic. The font is much older than the church, dating from late in the 12th century.

St Swithun's had a north aisle but it was demolished in the 15th or 16th century. Its arcade of three bays was blocked up and remains in the north wall of the nave. The tower had a spire but it became unsafe and in 1796 it was removed.

St Swithun's most notable monuments are wall-mounted ones in the chancel commemorating John Doyley (died 1593) and his wife, Elizabeth Poole (died 1621) and Richard Harrington (died 1712). The Poole monument has strapwork and Tuscan columns but is significantly mutilated and in want of restoration.

A turret clock for St Swithun's was made late in the 17th century. Its original dial had only an hour hand. In 1867 this was replaced with a new dial that has both hour and minute hands. Some time after 1989 a new turret clock was installed; the 17th century original is now displayed in the nave.

The Gothic Revival architect Charles Buckeridge restored St Swithun's from 1865[8] until 1872.[3] St Swithun's had been decorated with mediaeval wall paintings, once brightly coloured but by 1823 described as "dim with age". During the restoration work it was found impossible to remove the layers of whitewash covering them. St Swithun's is a Grade I listed building.

In the Edwardine Inventory of 1552 St Swithun's had three bells and a Sanctus bell. In 1795 the bell tower had a ring of seven bells but the churchwardens obtained permission to sell five of them to pay for a new lead roof for the church. By the 1950s there were only two bells: one cast by Richard Keene of Woodstock in 1694 and the other cast in 1887.

In 1565 the Crown sold the advowson and rectory to William Petre, who in 1572 gave both to Exeter College, Oxford. Since 2000 the ecclesiastical parish of Merton has been part of the Ray Valley Benefice."

 Before starting you may notice dark blue sky's in the first photos of the church and churchyard this is because I was using a filter to compensate for the harsh light

Just inside the gate from about the centre of the churchyard you get the best view of the church

 One of the first things I notice is a preaching cross stump, the top half missing long gone

Looking over towards the tower and porch

The bell tower with the clock

Going around the west end to the North side

This was another thing I noticed right away, the church used to have a north aisle which was removed and the arches blocked up. You can see a line where the rood joined. Makes me wonder what it looked like before it was removed

This is the top of one of the pillars supporting an arch note the paint still in the groove, I think the church would have been painted in medieval times

Looking back west from the east end of the church

The east end

Going around by the chancel on the south side

And what the porch

A row of headstones greet you as you walk in these all belong to the Nicholls Family

This one is the most readable

Looking across the churchyard to the east end

A chest tomb stands out with the headstone over on the west side

Looking east down the north side

Another set of crosses with the footstones leaning on them behind

Into the porch

Look up and you notice what looks like a mock window, this I have seen on a could of other churches in the area

A memorial on the porch wall by the notice board. This would have been the last photo but I knew I would be back

 Five weeks later  and I walk in in the church

 Looking from the door I notice the arches which I noticed on the outside.
Looking down the nave to the chancel arch
Same view as the first with my phone. the altar on the right is at the end of the south aisle

Looking across at the three arches that once would have taken you to the north aisle

 Longer view down the nave

Looking through the chancel arch at the altar, the glass topped one in the foreground is what I presume is used now

The chancel with the altar table

A screen has been built across here to form a vestry behind

Looking back through the arch towards the back of the church

One of the stunning old oil lamps in the church

On the left of the chancel arch is this beautiful pulpit 

From the pulpit

Lets take a wider view.
The pews along the arches that were part of the north aisle
Carving at the centre of the arch

 Carved heads can be see along the nave supporting the roof

 One of the old oil lams in its holder along the nave


Major, Michael Wakeham  Killed in action on 22 July 1941 while trying to land a Hampden P5305 at RAF Hinton-in-the-Hedges, Northamptonshire, aged 28. He is buried at Upper Hayford Cemetery

This fist monument is that of John Doyley and shows him and his wife

Underneath his four daughters 

This monument is to Elizabeth Poole

The inscription on it is very hard to read

 Floor tome to Willi Hall

 Couple of more monuments in a family cript

 This lady Katherine Harrington had a busy life having 16 kids, seven sons and 9 daughters, no wonder she died

In a blocked up north door is the village Roll of Honour

  Listing all those who gave their lives in WWI
A screen blocks off your view of the back of the south aisle
 Shame really because you can see this superb font which is older that the church

The back also hides a lager version of the pews you see here

 I did not want to show them as the area was full of storage items

But these are the carved ends on the pew
 they are beautiful
They look like they date from the 17th century

 A Reindeer stands in a stoup

The organ between the nave and north aisle

A screen at the end of the nave with a door that lets you in to the bell loft of the tower

The roof structure I felt was well worth looking at

The end over the chancel arch

Carvings in the centre

Clearer view of the area over the chancel arch which at some time was repaired from the look of it

The west end of the nave, I love how the beam is one single piece of oak and the shape of it

Looking back along the nave to the west end

I will leave you with this shot of the bible on the lectern 
Till Next time Stay Safe and have a wonderful weekend



  1. The church feels surprisingly light inside.

  2. Another fine old church with much to interest anyone who takes the time to look closely at all the clues on display.

    1. Yes I found it full of interesting things to see when I looked, I could probably go back & find more

  3. The church looks great against the blue sky.
    I like the old cemetery, architecture and interior fittings of the church.
    Billy! Have a nice Sunday and a healthy and happy new week :)

    1. Thank you Lucji-Maria I'm glad you enjoyed it

  4. It certainly has seen changes over the years. Interesting post.

    1. Thank you, It did change quite a bit form what I could see

  5. Definitely worth the wait Bill. So many wonderful details here for us to enjoy and on such a lovely day for you to do the exploring. I agree with William, considering those thick stone walls it is surprisingly light inside ✨


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