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Church Building

 Church 1890Chewton Mendip church building still dominates the village today even if the building is now on the edge of the village and the church as an organisation no longer wields the power in government  it once did.The church  is now the only building dedicated to religion but it provides a number of other social functions including education. The tower also had a military function as a form or watch tower in the early part of its history.The church probably was once in the centre of the village from Saxon times if not earlier. This is explained in the page about the Old Vicarage.

This picture is taken from a report dated 1890 and a copy has been kindly supplied by Terry and Pat  Green.

ChurchThe church is one of only two buildings shown in detail in the 1794 map  as shown on the right and can be seen in the page about the High Street and several other pages in this website.
 The width and breadth of the tower are not unusual but its height and age is. church tower. This  quotation is taken from the history of Chewton Mendip first published in 1954.”It [the tower] is 126 feet high with splendid pinnacles standing another 15 feet higher; it is thought that the lower and middle stages are as much as 100 years older than the upper stage. In 1541, a certain Thomas Halston of Chewton bequeathed “XVId.” to the building of this tower”.  The amount he donated was 16 old pennies or about 6p.The details of the people who contributed to the restoration of the tower in 1890 provides an interesting snapshot on the village at the time.
Rev Clarkson and ClockThe tower was also used to control the fourth dimension of time. Bells have been used since the earliest times and the 18th century records refer to a church clock. The Rev Clarkson is examining a later Victorian clock in the picture on the right.Thi picture was first published in the Shepton Mallet Journal in 1968. This copy was supplied by Jeff Ford. Additional information about the clock, the bells and bell rings was supplied by Tim Peppard.
The church clock commissioned by Francis Countess Waldegrave  in 1874.  It was constructed by G Wadham of Bath, most probably using castings supplied by the midlands clock maker William Joyce. It strikes the quarters on bells number 2,3,4 and 7. The hours are struck on the tenor. This clock had to be wound by hand until the mid 1960’s. This task was performed by the sexton or a bell ringer and had to be done at least four times a week. The last person to wind the clock was Herbert Baber who was the captain of the tower at the time.
 It was converted to a electric driven system around 1966 but this system failed 20 years later. On one occasion it struck the hour continuously for 15 minutes in the middle of the night. This incident made the tabloid press and Radio 1 news under such headings as ‘crazy Church clock strikes 200 o’clock. The electrical mechanism finally gave up the ghost in 1987 and the clock remained silent until 1991. The striking mechanism was bought back to life when Mr Geoff Iles of Keynsham designed, built and
installed an electronic switch control gear on a parts-cost basis as a personal project. A feature of this new system is that the mains power now only drives the motors and supplies a 12 volt transformer. The clock is very accurate considering that it is basically a Victorian time piece and is accurate to seconds over several weeks.
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