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St Augustine's Church, Even Swindon

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Phone  +44 7776 458278
St Augustine's Church, Even Swindon
Address  Summers St, Swindon SN2 2HA, UK
Similar  Holy Rood Church, St Mary's R C Church, Holy Family R C Church, Saint Peter's Catholic, St Mary's Catholic Primary S

The Parish Church of St. Augustine of Canterbury is an Anglican church in Even Swindon (also known locally as Rodbourne), an area of the town of Swindon, Wiltshire, England. The church was built to serve the spiritual needs of people moving to Swindon because of the Great Western Railway Works. The church was designed by W A H Masters, who also designed St Luke's Church, Broad Street, Swindon, and St Philip's, Upper Stratton.

Contents

The current Priest in Charge is Revd Harvey Gibbons. The church is part of a group of three churches - the others are St Barnabas, Gorse Hill and All Saints, Ferndale. The church is in the Diocese of Bristol.

The beginning

In what is thought to be a former church schoolroom built around 1873, the Rodbourne Cheney District Room became a mission chapel in the early 1880s within the parish of St Mary Rodbourne Cheney. The inventory records that the licence holding Divine Services was acquired on 2 April 1881. The earliest known record of a baptism dates from 1885.

The Rev W Mould, vicar of St Mary's and also chaplain to Queen Victoria, found difficulty in covering services at the chapel and made arrangements St Mark's Church (another 'railway' church) to cover services and pastoral work.

On 26 October 1904, Rev Henry Harvey was licensed as missionary curate in St Augustine's district. He went on to serve the church in Rodbourne for a total of 29 years, and was made Honorary Chaplain to the Bishop and on completion of 25 years' service, was made an Honorary Canon of Bristol Cathedral.

Building and consecration

The foundation stone of St Augustine's was laid on 13 April 1907 amid much ceremony, and was the first time that the Freemasons in Wiltshire were involved in a church service. Building commenced at the East end and the church in its current state was consecrated on 25 January 1908.

The bricks were paid for by the parishioners and cost one old penny each. Sadly, money ran out and the side aisles, porches, bell tower and further chapels were never completed.

It is one of the few churches in the south of England, and the only church in Swindon built in the basilica style, and consists of a long nave of six wide bays and apse with a walled choir surrounded by aisles.

There is no physical division between nave and choir in the main building, so it is effectively a large hall. The vestry and lady chapel are at the northeast corner of the church.

The church is approximately 120 ft long (37 m), 40 ft wide (12 m) and the nave roof reaches about 50 ft (15 m). The apse arch is about 30 ft high (9.1 m).

The single bell weighs four and a half hundredweight, or 504 pounds (229 kg).

The font is an exact replica of the fine Norman font at St Leonard's Church Stanton Fitzwarren.It is divided into ten compartments, each with a Latin inscription.

The first, Eclesia stands for the church – and the carving is of the crowned Divine Bride, holding the sacred chalice and killing evil (depicted as a serpent) with the stem of the cross. The second compartment, inscribed Cherubim shows a six winged cherubim, with its eyes covered to show its spiritual nature. The Cherubim holds a sword to show it is guardian of the Church.

The other eight compartments show eight crowned knights holding shields and weapons. These represent the goodly Christian Virtues and they are depicted dwarfing figures, which represent the evil vices fighting in the baptised soul. Details of these remaining compartments are:

  • Largitas v Avaricia (Bounty overcoming Avarice)
  • Humilitas v Superbia (Humility overcoming pride)
  • Pietas v Discordia (Gentleness overcoming strife)
  • Misericordia v Invidia (Mercy overcoming envy)
  • Modestia v Ebrietas (Sobriety overcoming Drunkenness and excess)
  • Temperancia v Luxuria (Temperance overcoming Wantonness)
  • Pacientcia v Ira (Patience overcoming Anger)
  • Pucicicia v Libido (Chastity overcoming impure lust)
  • Music

    The church has a strong musical tradition, the choir of the early days consisted of a choir of men and boys numbering nearly 50. Women were allowed into the choir for the first time in the mid-1970s. The choir presented the nameplate of the steam engine "Westminster Abbey" to the choirboys there, and it can still be seen in the choir school to this day.

    Sir John Betjeman was said to be a regular visitor to choral evensong and once hosted the choir at his Wantage Estate for a summer choir camp. The choir has previously sung in cathedrals and major churches including St Paul's, Westminster Abbey and St Mary Redcliffe and was well known in the locality for its size and quality.

    There are two organs, a pipe organ of two manuals and 12 stops (896 pipes) which is no longer used, and a two-manual digital organ of 33 speaking stops. This organ was donated to the church in 2003, and the church has had four recitals by Professor Ian Tracey, Organist Titulaire of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral.

    The speakers of the digital organ are positioned high up in the organ loft, about 30 feet (9.1 m) above the North stalls of the choir.

    References

    St Augustine's Church, Even Swindon Wikipedia


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