Church history (St S)

Who was St Sampson?

St Sampson was not the strong man of the Bible, but a Welshman of the 6th Century. He became Abbot of Caldey and preached all over the South West of England, before going to Brittany where he became first Bishop of Dol. Most of his remains are at the Cathedral there. Some of them were brought to England by King Athelstan in the 10th Century.

Historical information about the Church

There was a Saxon church on this site and although the date of building is not known, a stone church was first mentioned as existing in c.973. The church was in the possession of Westminster Abbey, who received the income, and was a mother church with a college of priests ministering to a number of churches and chapels in the surrounding area.

It is probable that Westminster Abbey rebuilt the church c.1080 and evidence of this building can be seen in the lower courses of the west wall of the nave. There was a major reconstruction in the late 12th century and the side aisles were added in the mid 13th century. The chancel was remodelled between 1350 and 1370 and is out of alignment with the nave.

The very impressive and massive tower took 50 years to build and was begun in the early 16th century and, after remaining partly built for some years, was completed in the early 1550s financed by the Duke of Northumberland. There is little evidence of the earlier Norman tower. The Hungerford chapel was built by Sir Edmund Hungerford, who died in 1484.

There was a fairly heavy Victorian restoration in 1863-4 when the jumble of family pews, the galleries and a screen were removed. The southern wall of the south aisle was also rebuilt. The church was the original parish church for Cricklade and its parish has always included the greater part of the town. In 1952 St. Sampson's was united with St. Mary's and in the 1970s the Church of St. Mary was declared redundant and St. Sampson's was again the only parish church in Cricklade.

A church clock of 1658, made by Richard Hewse of Wootton Bassett, which was originally in the belfry is now sited at the rear of the south aisle. The octagonal font is 15th century in the Late Decorated style. Four bells were recorded in 1553 and there is now a peal of six. There are the remains of a churchyard cross near the north gate, while in c.1818 the 14th century high cross was removed from the High Street and set in the churchyard, without its stepped base, in its present position. The parish registers from 1672 (christenings) and 1695 (marriages and burials), other than those in current use, are held in the Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office.
 
Source: www.wiltshire.gov.uk/community