All Saints' Church, Charlton All Saints
This little church is just over 150 years old and was built largely at the instigation and with the financial help of Horatio, the third Earl Nelson. He was the great-nephew of Admiral Lord Nelson, the victor of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The original brass memorial plaque to 'our' Earl Nelson on the west wall of the church was stolen in 2006 - a replica replaced it - and his photograph is on the north pillar of the chancel arch.
The large brick house set among the woods on the hill and beyond the River Avon, is Trafalgar House, pronounced locally (as in Spanish) “Trafalgár”, which was given to the Nelson family in perpetuity as the gift of a grateful nation: this gift was rescinded shortly after the 1939-1945 war. The house is now in private hands.
As you will see, our church is in two halves; the carpeted nave is used as the Church-and-Village-Hall for Harvest Suppers, Church Bazaars, and as the local Polling Station; but for large services the folding doors (which are across the chancel step just east of the pulpit) are opened to their full width.
Our regular services on the second and fourth Sundays of every month are held in the Choir. Our little tracker-action organ was fully restored and re-built to its original sound and glory in 2008/2009 by Peter Munro, of Devizes, paid for by the generosity of parishioners.
The church was converted to its present layout by a small band of determined parishioners at the end of the 20th century who took out all the pews from the nave, removed the choir stalls, put back in the choir the best of the pews, repaired the hole in the nave roof and redecorated the whole interior. Professionals were engaged to deal with the rot in the roof timbers - and we are still renewing various parts of the nave floor when small areas feel suspiciously “bouncy”!
We like to think that we were among the very first parish churches to save its own building by adapting it so that it could be used for secular as well as religious purposes and functions.
Have a look at the bottom right hand corner of the west window and you will see that it was made in Rochester Row, Westminster, by William Morris. Look also at our parish war memorial window near the pulpit; it is a moving tribute from such a tiny community as ours.
The Lych Gate is the Parish War Memorial to the Fallen of both World Wars and our Remembrance Sunday Act of Remembrance has become the envy of the Chalke Valley Deanery.