Sunday 21st September 2014

Yesterday I paid my first visit to Christ Church, the lady on the hill, in Swindon’s Old Town for the occasion of the Autumn fair. It was a really smashing event. And, I have to admit, a notch or two up from the autumn/summer/Christmas fairs I used to attend back in little old Whitwell when my daughter was small.

Christ Church Old Town Swindon
Christ Church Old Town Swindon

The stalls and the activities were spread in and around the church and its community centre. I had a lovely hour or two chatting to some great people from various community groups. Friends of Lydiard Park, the Swindon Society and the bunnies from the Wilts and Berks Canal trust.

A very confident young lad, who will surely go far, persuaded me to take him on in a five-penalty shoot out. Much to my surprise and no doubt his, I managed to beat him! David Beckham? Who’s he?

As I strolled round it struck me how wonderful it was to see community centre, church and the grounds opened up with stalls and displays.

Libraries have now recognised the need to have facilities and events that engage current readers and the readers of the future. And yesterday’s autumn fair was a great example of the church opened up to the community.

George Gilbert Scott

It’s a lovely church with some stunning stained glass windows in it.

Designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in Midlands Decorated Style. He also designed St Mark’s church – and more famously – St Pancras in London.

Opened in 1851, Christ Church replaced the old medieval church of Holy Rood. Located on The Lawn. That church was, by the 1850s, woefully inadequate for Swindon’s growing population. There’s lots more information about Christ church in the visitor’s guide leaflet I picked up in there.

John Betjeman

Like several things/places in Swindon and its environs, John Betjeman celebrated the church. In ‘On hearing the full peal of ten bells from Christ Church, Swindon’, Wilts he said:

“Your peal of ten ring over then this town,
Ring on my men nor ever ring them down…”  and “Oh still white headstones on these fields of sound, Hear you the wedding joy-bells wheeling round?”

NB: Christ Church is one of the buildings featured in Swindon in 50 Buildings.

Christ Church Old Town Swindon

See also this post, in Swindon in 50 more buildings, about the almshouses that run parallel to Christ Church graveyard:

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