St Andrew’s Church History
As many will know, St Andrew’s is attempting to obtain a faculty to rejuvenate the church to provide a community facility and safeguard the future wellbeing of the church. A question over the provenance of the pews has led me on a fascinating journey to fill in some missing details of the church’s history. The Rev’d Dunn produced fine monographs of both St Andrew’s and St George’s in the mid 1960s, but with the advent of digitised records much more detail is now readily accessible and has revealed some previously unrecorded details and personalities.
St Andrew’s stands very close to an early Bronze Age barrow and there is the possibility that both are situated on a Neolithic mound or platform, so we have 4,000 to possibly 5,500 years of history on the site. An extensive geophysical survey was carried out by Cranfield University last year and revealed two prominent hidden features: a large circular ditch around the mound and extensive outlines of a mediaeval manorial complex in the field to the west of the church. The size of the ditch suggests that the barrow is of a rare type and presumably was raised by a significant personage.
The current church was started in the 12th century, the chancel dates from the 13th, the tower from the 15th, after which little was altered until Victorian times. We have connections to the Saxon world and the Norman Invasion; the church was erected during the Anarchy, when Stephen and Matilda were fighting for the Crown. The donation of the Ogbournes to the Abbey of Bec in the 12th C ties us to a chain of events culminating in the Suppression of the Alien Monastries and the division of churches and land – the former being handed to St George’s Chapel Windsor, the latter (eventually) to King’s College Cambridge. Here the Wars of the Roses had an impact, with a squabble over estate ownership which probably directly affected the decision to build the tower inside the church.
The chancels of both parishes were leased out by St George’s Chapel from at least 1461, with the first lessee, "John Mychell of Marleborogh, marchaunt" ending up in the Town Hall gaol over a dispute about some "cuppes". The last lessee, William Liddiard died in 1841 and his trustees took on the lease until 1860. It must have been the trustees who employed William Butterfield (an eminent Victorian architect) to rebuild the interior of the church and to build the vicarage (now Tresco House). In terms of value, OSA parish raised marginally more income than OSG for the lessees.
We have a wealth of detail of the later Victorian work on the church (but nothing of Butterfield).
Some characters have emerged from the mists:
Sir John St Lo (15th C), "armour bearer to the body of the King (Henry VI)" and Constable of Bristol Castle. Given the Ogbourne Estates for his life. Possibly the benefactor who raised the tower with its fine vaulting.
Obadiah Sedgwick (1600 – 1658), son of the OSA vicar, is apparently buried in the chancel. He was a Puritan, is still revered (and read!) in Holland, preached to Parliament and was a "trier" and "expurgators" for Oliver Cromwell.