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page 23

Christ Church in Derry Hill

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The following artIcle was copied from the Church Magazine.
After the dissolution of Stanley Abbey, which was in the Ecclesiastical Parish of Bremhill, the villagers of Studley had to walk to Bremhill to attend church services. The consolidated parish of Derry Hill was formed in 1840 out of parts of the Parishes of Calne, Bremhill, Corsham and Bishops Callings, with the extra parochial places of Bowood and Pewsham.
The Church was originally built, not as a Parish Church, but as a 'Chapel Of Ease' for the residents of Derry Hill and Studley, most of whom worked on the Bowood Estate and lived far from their nearest Parish Church. The foundation stone was laid on Monday 29th July 1839 and the Church was fmished and dedicated the following year, the year of Queen Victoria's wedding and the year in which Rowland Hill introduced his famous Penny Post.
The site was donated by Mr Angell of Rumsey House, and the cost of building was raised partly by subscription and, according to an inscription inside the Church, partly by a grant from the Incorporated Society of Promoting the Enlargement of Building and Repairing of Churches and Chapels, as a result, 400 out of the 556 seats were declared to be free and unappropriated for ever. The 3rd Lord Lansdowne provided the spire at a cost of£111-10s-0d. In 1996 the spire was damaged by a stonn and the cost ofrepair, around £18,000, was met by donations and fund raising from parishioners and villagers and was completed in 1997. The Church was designed by Thomas Henry Wyatt, Architect of the Diocese. An addition to the glebe the burial ground was conveyed by the 5th Lord Lansdowne, with the help of Mr John Spencer, in 1872. In 1874 Lord Lansdowne gave trees and shrubs for planting.
The inside of the Church has the same light, spacious and airy appearance today as it had in 1840. The layout of the pews differs slightly as formerly a block of seats extended down the middle of the building and the parishioners entered by the two side doors, and not by the central west door as at present. In 1842 the Marquess of Lansdowne presented a new organ to Calne Parish Church which was built by George May dwell Holdich (1816-1894) of 42 Euston Road, Kings Cross, London and the old organ from Calne was given to Derry Hill. Twenty years later it was considered 'worn out' and a Faculty dated 12th April 1862 allowed for its disposal, for £10, and replacement by a new instrument, costing £180 which was also built by Holdich and consisted of one manual and pedals with six speaking stops. Originally set up in the NE corner of the nave, it was moved to the West Gallery in January 1863. In 1870 Mrs Fletcher, the Vicars wife, was thanked for her services as organist and other persons are regularly named as bell-ringers and organ blowers. In 1929 it was, unfortunately, unnecessarily enlarged by Arthur Spencer, Organ Builder of Chippenham. This entailed the destruction of Holdich's console and the addition of a second manual for which there is barely room. The wind pressure was raised which, like the carpeting in the Church, hasn't enhanced its tone quality. In 1867 the possibility of lighting the Church with oil lamps was discussed and in 1887 Lord Lansdowne was thanked for subscribing to the provision of a heating apparatus and again in 1886 for a donation towards the lighting.
All well known families took part in the life of the Church. Mr J B O Angell was elected Vicar's Warden many times and in 1883 he presented new Churchwarden Staves of oak and polished brass. He may even have had to make use of this as in 1883 he was thanked for sitting at the back of the Church 'for orders sake'.  Another gift was the processional Cross in memory of Alfred Lovell Scott, who was the Vicar from 1889 -1925.
The Church has three stained glass windows at the top of the north aisle. The east window, illustrating the Ascension of Our Lord, was erected in 1865 in memory of Caroline, wife of William John Lysley who, although originally from Hertfordshire, lived in Pewsham House. Besides taking an interest in the Church he was MP for Chippenham from 1859 -1865 and is buried in the Churchyard. The stained glass window on the North side, erected in 1881, commemorates John Spencer who was born in Langley, Derbyshire and became head gardener on the Bowood Estate. He was a founder member of the British Pomological Society 1854, and joint proprietor of Florist 1854-1862. In about 1860 he became an agent for the Bowood Estate. During his life he did a great deal of local public work and is also buried in the Churchyard.
The stained glass window on the South side was given by Leonard and Brenda Beint in memory of their son, Ian Christopher, and depicts his connection with the timber trade in Studley where the Saw Mills were established in 1900 by Ian's great-grandfather, William Elijah Beint. In the late 1940's and 1950's the Saw Mills were one of the largest employers in the area. The window was created and installed by the Salisbury Cathedral workshops and dedicated on 12 November 2000 by the Bishop of Ramsbury, The Right Reverend Peter Hullah.
The north-east corner of the Churchyard contains the modest graves of the 5th Marquess of Lansdowne and his wife, who died in 1927 and 1932 respectively. They had both been intimately connected with the running of the Church and School. Their son the 6th Marquess is commemorated in an inscription on the lecturn presented by his widow Elizabeth in 1936.
A modest plaque, also in the north wall of the Church, records the death of H H Smith JP of Buckhill who was also agent of Bowood Estate.
During the first century there were 2022 Baptisms, 1007 Marriages, 1696 Burials. By December 2000 the numbers had risen to :
2736 Baptisms 1273 Marriages 2388 Burials