History

Gundrada, the daughter of William the Conqueror, with her kinswoman Albreda de Bosco Roaldae gave the chapel of Broughton, with its lands and tithes, to the Abbey of Shaftesbury. Gundrada died in 1085 and the Abbess of Shaftesbury remained patron of the living until 1539 when the patronage was vested in the Crown, in recent years acting through the Lord Chancellor.

The Nave, Chancel and North Aisle date from the 13th century whilst the Chantry Chapel dates from the early 14th century. The Porch was added together with the tower and Belfry in the 15th century so that its general character is now that of a church of the Perpendicular period. Major repairs were undertaken between 1848 and 1878 under the direction of the then Rector: Rev. John Wilkinson. At this time the galleries were removed, the nave roof was renewed and the extension to the north aisle to accommodate the organ was completed.

The Chantry Chapel has a very unusual curved recess in the east wall over the altar. To the north of this is a hagioscope or squint and the remains of the stairs leading to the former Rood Loft. This would probably have enabled a small number of musicians to stand behind the former Rood Screen from which the Cross would have been hung. There is another squint in the north aisle. The porch originally had a wooden ceiling above the doorway, forming a second storey. The stone staircase in the west wall leading to it still remains. In the east wall of the porch are slits, now glazed over, to allow a view of the altar in the Chantry Chapel; probably for the use of those who “for notitious sin had been cast out of the congregation”. To the right of the Altar is a small Piscina used to wash the vessels used in the course of Communion and dispose of particles of the consecrated Eucharist directly to the earth by a connecting pipe to the ground. A second Piscina is to be found at the right of the altar in the Chantry chapel. The Register dates from the year 1665.

Most of the stained glass is relatively modern but a few fragments remain from the days prior to the destruction wreaked by Cromwell’s soldiers. At the base of the entrance to the vestry is an iron ring where, before the construction of the tower, worshippers could tie up their horses at the old west door. To the left of the door in the porch at waist height is a stone which is believed to have replaced a small stoup of holy water which Catholic priests used to cross themselves before entering. This was probably filled in at the time of the Reformation. In the churchyard to the right of the Lychgate can be seen all that remains of the ancient Market Cross. Extensive damage to the Cross was effected by Cromwell’s troops when it stood on its original site at the top end of Mill Lane.

There are rumours that a tunnel may have existed between the churchyard and either the river Avon (for smuggling) or for access from Monkton House, in the 12th century, at that time the property of the Cluniac monks of the order of St Benedict.