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The Lady on the Hill 

Christ Church with St Mary's
The Ecumenical Parish of Swindon Old Town
 
The Lady on the Hill: Christchurch
For one hundred and fifty years the brooding beauty of the spire of Christ Church, Swindon's parish church, has dominated the changing pattern of Swindon life.

It was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in Midlands Decorated style, and was opened in 1851.

It was built to replace the old medieval parish church of
*Holy Rood on the Lawns, which by the 1850's, was woefully inadequate for the growing population of Swindon. The hillside site was donated by Ambrose Goddard, Lord of the Manor of Swindon.  
 
 

1. The Tower of three stages, with west gabled porch and corner buttresses. Broach spire and tower were based on 13th Century church of Buckworth, near Huntingdon. Tower stands 150 feet high.
The Clock of 1843 on the west side of the tower was transferred from Holy Rood Church together with six bells.
The present peal of ten bells is immortalized in a poem by Sir John Betjeman.

2. The South Porch of 1916, erected in memory of Henry and Harriet E Kinneir, has a stained glass window, depicting the Great Western Railway coat-of-arms, donated by Nancy Davis in 1975.

3. After passing through glass doors note, on left, marble was memorial. Alabaster font of 1905 was donated by Edward Hesketh Goddard in memory of his wife. This is one of many church fittings donated by the Goddard family.

4. On column to right at west end of nave note listing of Vicars of the Parish of Swindon from 1301 to date.

5. Canon Thomas Corner, at the north-west end of the church, is named after Canon Lewis Thomas (1894-1972) and holds a small library of Christian books.

6. By north wall is model of Christ Church by Thomas Hewson to 1/100 scale, made from match sticks and balsa wood.

7. The North Transept contains various memorial plaques of the Goddard family. Of particular note is the west window of 1931 by M Travers depicting a view through hollyhocks of The Lawn (manor house of the Goddards) towards Liddington Hill, together with Goddard and Christ Church, Oxford, coats-of-arms. The Church has much glass of 1855-60 and 1891-1902 elsewhere.

8. Pulpit, 1906, of marble and alabaster, was presented by Pleydell and Jessie Goddard in memory of their parents.

9. The Organ was rebuilt, enlarged and modernized in 1951 and 1970. Further repairs were carried out in 1998.

10. Note brass memorial plaque to Henry G Bailey, Vicar from 1847-1885, whose drive and energy was mainly responsible for the building of Christ Church.

11. Behind the High Altar by the East Window, is marble and alabaster reredos of 1891, with panels of the Expulsion from Eden and the Annunciation. This was erected by Fitzroy Pleydell and Jessie Goddard in memory of their brother, Ambrose Ayshford Goddard. East Window was erected by widow of James Grooby, Vicar of Swindon 1823-1847, in memory of her husband and Col. Vilett, her brother.

12. Brass Eagle Lectern of 1881.

13. Lady Chapel, 1935, by Harold Brakspear, with canopied figure of The Good Shepherd. Modern (1987) window by John Hayward in south wall.

14. South Transept. On the west wall is a Roll of Honour that was in the High School in Bath Road until that was closed in 1979. On the window sill is a weathercock formerly on top of the spire until replaced by a cross. The weathercock carries several bullet holes allegedly made by soldiers during the 1939-1945 War when using it for target practice.

* For history of Holy Rood see The Story of Holy Rood: Old Parish Church of Swindon, by Denis Bird (Swindon Society, 1991). Its chancel still stands in the Lawn park, some 500 metres south of Christ Church.

The Lady on the Hill book
There is a book "The Old Lady on the Hill", documenting the history of Christ Church. It is available from the Church office, Cricklade Street; Victoria Bookshop, Wood Street; Bath Road Museum; Lydiard House; Swindon Information Centre, Regent Street and Rainbow Bookshop, Edgeware Road.

Facts:

Christchurch
Vicar: The Revd. Simon Stevenette
Christ Church Vicarage
26 Cricklade Street
Swindon
SN1 3HG

Tel: 01793 529166
Fax: 07070 754618
Parish Office: Tel: 01793 522832
Fax: 01793 617237
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