Stop Reader, and a Wonder see
As strange as e'er was known,
My Feet drop'd off from my Body
In the Middle of the Bone:
I had no Surgeon for my Help,
But God Almighty's Aid,
In whom I ever will rely.
And never be afraid.
Tho' here beneath they lie
Corruption for to see;
Yet they shall one Day re-unite
To all Eternity.
St. Mary's Church History
The people of Saltford have worshipped here for more than a thousand years.
By day . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . by night
This is Norman, or perhaps Saxon. It is said that it was removed from the Church, desecrated by defacing the sculptured heads by Parliamentarian soldiers after the Battle of Lansdown and subsequently found in use as a cattle trough, before being returned to the Church and mounted on a new base. The Rector at that time was also taken away by Cromwell's men and never seen again.
This is Saxon, thought it has been extensively repaired and the top ten feet added. The stone pinnacles are Victorian. There were once three bells: the remaining bell is dated 1820.
Three memorials are of special interest
The first is a unique memorial in the Porch to the feet of one Frances Flood who, passing through the village in the 18th century, lost her feet in 1723 through gangrene after contracting smallpox.
The story of the Devonshire Woman is in the British Museum.
A small fascinating tablet dated 1639 near the piano, the most interesting of many memorials to two of the local Flowers family, who lived for many years in the adjoining Manor, which is reputed to be the oldest occupied manor house in the country and is largely Norman.
Around the edge it reads,
"Robert Flower who deceased the 15th of July 1631"
In the centre it reads,
"Heare lyeth the body of Lamorock Flower who deceased the 6 day of April 1639. Flowers they warshipt in ye Springe but flourishing now with Christ their King"
The third, a gem now covered by a carpet, in front of the altar step inscribed:
'The Rev Thomas Slater' 'Also of Charles, his son by Rachel his second wife, daughter of the Rev. Richard Barry, rector of Upton Scudamore in the county of Wilts and vicar of Bitton in ye County of Gloucester, who served as a midshipman in his majesty's navy and in the year 1783 went out with the Grand Fleet under the command of Lord Howe to the relief of Gibraltar, was a most promising youth but unfortunately lost his life by bathing in the river Avon, July 12th, 1785, aged 13 years.'
We have a bible dated 1612, which was in use here on the lectern until modern times. This has now been taken to Wells Cathedral for safe keeping. (click image for more photos)
The embroidered Coat of Arms on the front of the gallery dates from soon after the Battle of Waterloo. This intricate stitch had a very brief popularity, which gives it its precise date.
This was evidently erected at the time of another major rebuilding of the Church in the early 19th century, when the chancel and the south wall were rebuilt to a design similar to the original, the porch between the two nave windows was removed and the stones used to build a small vestry on the north side of the chancel. The position that the porch occupied can be seen in the round water channel to the south of the nave.
This drawing in the porch is a reconstruction of the church just prior to the Civil War. It is said that after the Battle of Lansdowne (1643) a party of Roundheads pursued a group of Royalists across the ford here, but lost them in the woods around Stantonbury hill. On returning and finding that they were unable to re-cross the ford, as the tide had risen, they vented their anger on Saltford church. They found some fine stained glass in the chancel window and in the South windows of the nave. This they completely smashed, removed the font for use as a cattle trough, and even ripped up some of the paving stones.
The North Wall
The North Wall of the Nave was evidently rebuilt in the 13th century.
The damage to the chancel was so extensive that restoration was impossible at the time. The chancel arch was walled up and the nave only used for a while - possibly until 1832 when complete restoration was undertaken. At that time the South porch was demolished and the materials used to build the current vestry. At the same time the old stone tiles were replaced with slates, and these, in their turn, were replaced by tiles in 1960.
The two larger windows on the side of the nave are both of the 13th/14th century. The external stonework is very ancient, but the top of the western window on this side has been altered and increased in height, presumably to give light to the gallery.
Click thumbnail to see larger image
Though this Church has stood here for so long, it has almost certainly never been so well attended as it is today. Nearly all the furnishings and decorations have been installed in this generation. The new window in the west wall of the tower is a good example of modern work, being made of a very thick tinted glass set in epoxy, representing various musical instruments (see below).
MEMORIAL WINDOW TO THE LATE T. C. G. EWINS
The new window in the tower above the porch is a splendid example of modern coloured glass craftmanship. It was commissioned by Mrs. V. Ewins to commemorate the ten years that her late husband was organist and choirmaster at Saltford Church. The designer is Geoffrey Robinson, F.M.G.P.A., who has made windows for many churches in the area and recently for Clifton College. The installation was arranged by Geoffrey Phillips, A.R.I.B.A., who has worked with the designer from the time of commissioning.
The window depicts musical instruments in richly coloured glass pieces with a pastoral theme for the surround. The beauty of the glass can best be appreciated from inside the church in the choir robing room, but the treatment of the outside blends in with the old stonework of the tower and the design can also be seen. Cecil Ewins devoted much of his life to the community and this beautiful window is a fitting memorial to his contribution to Saltford Church.
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The epitaph reads