The church of St Michael in Mere is one of the finest parish churches in Wiltshire. The narrow, high nave suggests a Saxon building stood here, and a church was recorded in 1091. A statue of St Michael, dating to 1160, is set into a niche over entrance.
The oldest part of the building dates to the 13th century, and the striking 38 metre high tower is 15th century, with tall pinnacles that can be seen for miles around this pretty town. The north (St Matthew's) Chapel was built around 1325, and the south chapel added around 1350, by Sir John Bettesthorne, also known as John of Mere. Bettesthorne gave money for mass to be said daily for Queen Margaret, second wife of Edward I, and for himself and his wife.
Bettesthorne's wonderful memorial brass is set into the floor of the chapel he built. The brass dates to 1398, and has an unusually complete inscription with a code letter that enables us to determine that Sir John died on a Thursday.
The church has fragments of magnificent 14th and 15th century painted glass. There would be much more, but in 1645, Cromwell's soldiers destroyed much of the original medieval glass. The best glass is gathered in the west window of the Bettesthorne Chapel, with four panels, including one depicting St Christopher.
Among the highlights are a beautifully carved 15th century parclose screen, lovely 17th century pews with carved bench ends, and a wooden rood screen which is 15th century at the base with a modern gallery and rood above. Also 15th century are wooden screens to the two chantry chapels, and in the south chapel, a 15th century altar tomb.
The chancel stalls have a lovely collection of misericords, those on the south side being 14th century while those on the north side are 16th century. Subjects include a Green Man, angels, a Tudor rose, foliage, and a winged dragon. There is a royal coat of arms to James I, erected in March 1685, and thought to be the first arms set up in James' short reign. The font is 15th century, set on a Victorian base.
GPS Coordinates: 51.08933, -2.27118
- Added: 13 Nov 2008
- Find A Grave Cemetery: #2282614
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