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Former Church of St Edmund, Salisbury

Description: Former Church of St Edmund

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 28 February 1952
English Heritage Building ID: 318864

OS Grid Reference: SU1468530344
OS Grid Coordinates: 414685, 130344
Latitude/Longitude: 51.0722, -1.7918

Locality: Salisbury
County: Wiltshire
Country: England
Postcode: SP1 3UT

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Listing Text

28-FEB-52 (North side)

(Formerly listed as:

15th century nave, originally a chancel; tower of 1653-5. Reseated and restored by Sir G.G. Scott, 1865-7, including the rebuilding of the chancel and addition of north and south chancel chapels. Adapted for Arts Centre use 2003-5.

Materials: Mixed limestone ashlar, clay tiled roofs.

Plan: West tower, symmetrical five-bay nave and aisles, three-bay chancel with shorter symmetrical chapels north and south. Attached north of the north aisle (east end) is a two-storey addition, formerly schoolrooms.

Exterior: The west tower was entirely rebuilt after the collapse of 1653, in Gothic style, of three short stages with setback buttresses. The west door is framed by a square label with quatrefoils in the spandrels, but the tracery members are flat fronted and square-sectioned, suggesting a 17th century interpretation of Gothic rather than re-use of old fabric. The same style doorcase occurs at the west end of the south aisle. The lower windows are mainly small, single or double lights, with bastardized Perp tracery. The bell-openings are of two lights, with quatrefoils in the heads. It has embattled parapets with small crocketed pinnacles. The south-west pinnacle is missing, reportedly within the church and awaiting replacement. The nave is encased on all sides, with full length aisles having four-light Perp windows under four-centred heads. There are regular buttresses between the windows, and solid parapets. On the south side are cast-iron rainwater goods with the date 1867. The south chapel is Victorian; its five-light east window has a transom. On the north-east angle of the church is a two-storey Gothic Revival building c1780-1800, reportedly built as a mausoleum and extended as schoolrooms. The building is rectangular, with four big arched lights with interlaced tracery in the upper floor, and two-light square-headed windows below. There are carvings at eaves level on the corners, one at least of an angel, probably medieval.

Interior: During Sir George Gilbert Scott's restoration of 1865-7, the chancel was rebuilt with sacristy on the north and chapel on the south, the former east walls of the 15th century aisles being taken down and re-erected to form the east end of the new extension. Flanking the east windows in both north and south chapel walls are the remains of two tiers of niches with vaulted canopies, which until the Reformation would have held statues of saints with lighted candles before them. The chancel has on each side a two-arched arcade with octagonal piers, and a timber roof on shield corbels, all by Scott. The chancel arch and nave arcades are essentially medieval, though much restored. The arches have two concave hollows with a square rebate between, while the piers are of standard Perp section, four hollows with shafts, and ring-moulded capitals. The north aisle roof is probably at least in parts medieval, a wagon-vault with tie beams.

Principal Fixtures: In the former sanctuary, a Victorian aumbry (north side), and a reredos with mosaic (obscured). There is a fine set of 15 stained glass windows all by Clayton & Bell, c. 1867-88 (some documented, the rest firmly attributed on grounds of style). The most spectacular is the seven-light east window (1867) depicting scenes from the Nativity, Passion and Ascension. The latest firmly dateable is the west window (1888) obscured within the tower. There are a few minor 18th and 19th century tablets in the aisles. Above the west door of the tower is a commemorative tablet to the rebuilding of the tower: under a segmental pediment, a cartouche with gristly scrolls, and the words "The Lord did marvellously preserve a great congregation of his people from the fall of the tower in this place upon the Sabbath Day being June 26th 1653. Praise Him O ye Children." Also beneath the parapet on the west face of the tower is carved "JOHN HILLARY JOHN PERCEVALL CHURCHWARDENS" (the second surname partly unreadable). They held office 1655-6.

Subsidiary Features: The Arts Centre was refurbished, the historic fabric conserved, and simple new workshops and offices built to the north, by Tim Ronalds Architects of London, 2003-5. The addition is of brown brick with pitched roofs and metal framed windows; it is connected to the main building by a glazed corridor on two levels. The office building is not of special interest and is therefore excluded from this listing.

History: Salisbury was intended from the first as a university city, and the collegiate church of St. Edmund of Abingdon was founded by Bishop de la Wyle in 1269, about the time that the cathedral was completed. However a bequest in a will shows that building was underway by 1264. Of the 13th century church nothing remains, for it was said in 1407 to be `newly built', as a cruciform church with central tower and an aisled nave. This plan form is more typical of the 13th than the early 15th century, so the Perp rebuilding probably embellished the original plan. The steeple had been removed by 1559, but by c1600 the tower was showing signs of instability, which worsened over the following decades. Despite further interventions, in June 1653 the central tower collapsed westward, causing severe damage to the nave. From 1653-5, the tower was rebuilt and the chancel of c1407 was converted to a nave. The old nave was not rebuilt, reducing the church to about half its former size. This unusual date for Anglican church rebuilding gives the tower an art-historical significance. Not long before 1843, a small chancel without aisles was extended eastwards. The church was restored by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1865-7. The chancel was rebuilt with sacristy on the north and chapel on the south, the former east walls of the 15th century aisles being taken down and re-erected to form the east end of the new extension. At the same time the box pews, galleries, and a three-decker pulpit were removed. In 1913 the south chapel was reordered. In 1954 the chancel was re-modelled to provide more space, by W.H. Randoll Blacking. Further repaired by Potter & Hare of Salisbury c. 1966-70, then by the Brandt Potter Hare Partnership, 1971-2. It closed in 1974 and, under a covenant drawn up with the local council, it became Salisbury Arts Centre in 1975, the conversion probably done by Potter & Hare. It was refurbished in 2003-5.

Anon., Churchwardens' Accounts of St Edmunds and St Thomas, Sarum 1443 -1702, 228 & 231.
Lambeth Palace Library, Incorporated Church Building Society (ICBS) archive, files 06330 and 14357
Victoria County Histories, A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 6 (1962), 144-155.
URL: george Date accessed: 14 July 2009.
Wiltshire Council; planning application S/2002/1471 (July 2002).

Reasons for Designation: Former church of St Edmund, Sailsbury, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* A site of historic importance for modern Salisbury, begun by Bishop Wyle as a collegiate church c1264.

* A basically Perp structure of nave and aisles transformed from the chancel of a much larger church, and restored by Sir George Gilbert Scott.

* A very rare Gothic tower of the Commonwealth period, with an accompanying cartouche.

* Late 18th century Gothic schoolrooms

* Fine set of stained glass windows by Clayton & Bell.

* The church retains considerable special interest, its adaption for a very different use not withstanding.

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.