St. Andrew's Church
St. Andrew's is a small single room chapel, with a raised single step chancel at the East End. Although there have been incumbents here since at least the 14th Century, and the building retains its original shape, most of the structure has been replaced over the years. The interior has some very interesting features: there is a medieval arch in the north wall, and what is thought to be a 'leper’s squint' in the South wall.
St. Andrew's was built where the Roman road to Old Sarum crossed the River Nadder, before the Harnham crossing was built in the 8th century. It is entirely possible that this had been a site of worship, and indeed of Christian worship, long before the current stone structure was erected. The lane (now a busy road) joining the village of Bemerton to Fugglestone and Wilton separated the church from the Old Rectory, which lies directly oppposite and dates originally from the same period.
We know of Herbert’s restoration in the 1630s, and the church door is at least this old. The building was extensively repaired in 1776, and there were two further restorations in the 19th Century (1866 and 1894-6). Although the church bell is still the one tolled by Herbert, the present bell cote, weathervane and cross are Victorian additions, probably from the time St. John's was built in 1860. A few years ago the fabric was again causing anxiety, and between 1976 and 1979 the sum of £10,000 was raised, mostly by local efforts. The west wall was reinforced, the roof partly re-tiled, and other necessary repairs were carried out.
The Church Today
Not surprisingly, Bemerton has changed a great deal since the time of George Herbert. Bemerton Parish is now the largest in Salisbury with a population of over 15,000. Two newer churches have been built - St. John's (only 200 yards to the West of St. Andrew's) and St. Michael's, built in 1957 on Bemerton Heath - but St. Andrew's is still in regular use. Although there are seats for only about 30 people, its small size makes this little chapel ideal for weekday and early morning services, and it is a spiritual centre and place of pilgrimage for visitors from all over the world. For more details, download our Guide for Visitors.
The Local Area
In and around Bemerton, within a short distance of St. Andrew's, there are some other buildings connected closely with George Herbert that no visitor should miss. A little further afield, Salisbury and the surrounding area offers much to the visitor wanting to appreciate the greater setting for George Herbert's ministry, not least the magnificent Cathedral.
Visitors & Events
Details of how to get to St. Andrew's, a calendar of events in the church and the times of services are available by clicking here.