History Group Visit

On November 20th eleven members of our group made the short journey to St Mary’s church, Black Bourton, in the parish that Carterton was once part of. By 1180 a chapel, that now is the chancel, was in use by 1180, the nave was built in 1190 when the font was built and the stone pulpit was from the fifteenth century. Most of the windows are narrow lancet ones dating from the 12th century which doesn’t give the church much light but better for the preservation of the historic wall paintings that the church is famous for. These date from the 13th century and were for the religious education of an illiterate congregation showing 13 scenes from the bible and studies of religious people and all are seen on the original nave walls. Presumably during the Reformation in the 16th century, when churches were cleared of catholic images, they were covered with plaster and whitewash. They were revealed in 1866 when the church was being restored and the paintings uncovered but when the Vicar went to London to get a wash to fix them he found on his return that his curate and tenants had whitewashed them over again! In 1932 the whitewash was carefully removed and all was revealed. The church has recently had new bells in the tower and many of us went up a circular stone staircase to view them. One of the congregation, himself a bellringer, also gave an interesting talk to some of us on the church. Behind the altar for instance is a recently discovered memorial stone to a Sir Arthur Hopton, the stone having been covered by the altar and then revealed when the altar was moved. Sir Arthur was a diplomat, knighted in 1638 and became our Spanish Ambassador and remained in Spain during the English Civil War. His famous nephew Ralph Hopton supported the King during the war. Sir Arthur died 1650 and buried in the chancel but not where is memorial stone is because the first vicar of the church in 1587 was James Godman who died in 1632 and was buried under the altar and during the 19th century restorations they moved his stone to the north aisle and replaced it with Sir Arthur Hoptons! This was such a lovely historical church well cared for, as was the graveyard outside, by the villagers. In one part are the war graves of airmen from RAF Brize Norton killed during the 2nd World War and in another part are graves of local RAF airmen, serving and retired, who have died since. As usual on our excursions we later had tea, cake and chat and this time at a local garden centre to round off a very interesting visit.  Christine/Wendy

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