Church of St. Giles, Tockenham A church is first recorded in 1276 and the advowson belonged to the lord of the manor until the 16th century. In 1291 the Rectory was taxed at £5, and in 1341 the benefice was valued at £5.18s.0d. At this time the water mill was paying tithes of 3 shillings. During the period 1369-70 it was said 16 tenants owed services to the lord of the manor - bean picking, sheep shearing, sheep washing, hoeing, weeding, hay making and stacking, also harvest duties. In addition they were said to be liable for ploughing and hay carting duties. Queen Katherine Parr held the manor and on her death in 1548, when the advowson reverted to the Crown. Parishioners complained in 1553 that 'there was no preaching in Tockenham'. In 1650 the rector claimed the parishioners paid no tithes, neither in kind nor payment. William Durston, rector in 1686 was described as 'a scandalous and disorderly man' and in 1692 it was reported he only visited the village once in six months. During this period the rector was also accused of taking away the communion vessels. Eventually a chalice and paten hallmarked 1681 were returned, and these constitute the church plate in the 20th century. Before 1928 the church had been dedicated to St. John the Evangelist. There is a statue of Roman origin embedded in the southern wall of the nave, which was believed to be of the Greek god Aesculapuis. Aesculapuis was the god of healing and St Giles, the patron saint of cripples, was his closest Christian counterpart. However it has since been indicated that the statue is not of Aesculapuis, but of some lesser domestic god, and was probably taken from the nearby Roman villa. The church itself has received several restorations over the centuries. In 1699 two church wardens, local landowner William Wemensall and manor occupant Matthew Smith, affected to raise the walls of the church and repair the 'tower' which then stood at the west of the church. It is their initials which are on the tablet in the southern wall. The porch to the east of this is also from the same period. In 1876, the eastern window of the chancel was replaced. Similarly, the 'tower' was replaced with the bell turret which can be seen today, either in 1876 or at a later restoration in 1908; the lower structure of the tower is timber framed and of the 17th century. We are told that in 1553 the church had two bells. However, by the 20th century there was only one. This bell was made in Bristol in c.1480, and bears the inscription 'Micael Celi Satrapa', meaning 'Michael Governor of Heaven'. Inside the church there is a Norman font dating back to the 12th century, making it older than the church itself. The chalice is hallmarked '1681'. The pews and pulpit are both from the 18th century, and a 17th century communion table forms the altar. Up above, the nave ceiling is of a 'trussed-rafter' type, with a wooden doorway set in the wall at rood-loft level. The organ chamber stands at the west of the church, below the bell turret, and was built by Flight and Robson of London. The organ would have originally stood in a large house or manor. Aside from the memorial tablets of the interior walls, the church also contains several other interesting items. One of the two altar chairs was given to the parish in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria's 60-year reign. It is inscribed 'Victoria 1837-1897'. On the southern wall above the porch there is another small statue, unidentified but thought to be a depiction of Moses. The parish registers from 1653 (births, baptisms, and marriages) and 1655 (burials), other than those in current use, can be seen at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre in Chippenham
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