Wiltshire Unitary Authority
|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
Saint John the Baptist Churchyard in Devizes, Wiltshire, England.
Located on Long Street
Keeping the Market Square in the centre of Devizes on your left hand side, Saint John the Baptist Cemetery is 200 yards further down Long Street on the right hand side.
The Churchyard surrounds the 12th Century Saint John the Baptist Church and is overlooked by the Devizes castle.
The churchyard is very old and many of the headstones are too ancient and weathered to read. The church and churchyard belong to the Church of England.
Church of St. John the Baptist, Devizes
The early history of the church is closely linked with that of St. Mary, under a single rector, and the phrase, 'the Church of St. John with St. Mary annexed, first used in 1400, is often found. St. John's was originally the castle chapel and was a 12th century, probably c.1130, church of considerable size and quality with a really ornamental tower over 65 feet high. At various times during the next two centuries the church was enlarged and in 1392 there was a chantry to St. Leonard. The western part of the church was rebuilt in the 15th century and by 1489 there were four altars. There was much ornamentation in the church and many chapels. The first major restoration was in 1844 but by the late 1850s the nave arcades and aisle walls were leaning outwards to a serious extent. This resulted in a large scale restoration in 1862-3 with the nave extended by one bay, which added 154 free sittings, the west wall rebuilt in 15th century style and much else repaired and renewed. There were many other repairs and restorations to different areas between 1894 and 1924. Today the church has a chancel with north and south chapels, a crossing tower, transepts and an aisled nave with north and south porches. Until 1655 the curfew bell was rung at 8.00 p.m. but was then changed to 9.00 p.m. From 1934 it was not rung in the three summer months although the curfew was still tolled in the other months until at least 1951. The early morning bell was rung at 4.00 a.m. from 1646 and this ceased in 1875 when it was being rung ar 6.00 p.m. During the Civil War the church tower was used as a powder magazine and lead was taken from the roof to be used for bullets. The parish registers for christenings and marriages from 1559 and for burials from 1563, other than those in current use, are held in the Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office.
|Photos may be scaled.|
Click on image for full size.