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Holy Trinity Church, Ardington
Ardington Parish Church

Ardington near Wantage is a pretty Oxfordshire village, lying in the Vale of the White Horse. The village was formerly in Berkshire. The parish church of Holy Trinity, above, was where many of Andy's Hobbis, Wells and Mallam ancestors were christened, married and buried.

In 1845 the church was described as "being very little known, and deserving attentive notice as a curious example of the ecclesiastical architecture of its day, being in the transition from the early English to the decorated styles, but has been suffered to fall into a most dilapidated state." The church was closed and major repair and rebuilding began. The architect for this work was Joseph Clarke of Lincoln's Inn Fields and the builders were Messrs. R. & F. Castle of Oxford. The old tower was in a dangerous state and had to be taken down; the old stonework was replaced, a window and spire added and the fine old open roof was said to be almost totally decayed. When it reopened on 31 May 1847, with the Lord Bishop of Oxford was present at the service, the entire building was said to have been thoroughly restored. Most of the expense was borne by the parish although Robert Vernon, Esq., covered the cost of the spire[1].

"Kelly's Directory" of 1848 tells us more about the village and its church. "Ardington, a parish in the Hundred and Union of Wantage, about 2 miles east from Wantage; the Great Western railway crosses the Berks and Wilts Canal in this parish. The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Oxford ; the present incumbent is the Rev. Ralph Barnes, M.A. The church, which is dedicated to the Holy Trinity, is in the early English style, with nave, chancel, and square tower, surmounted by a neat spire, and containing four bells ...The parish comprises about 1,300 acres of good soil, and a population of 405"[2].

"The church of the Holy Trinity, is a building of stone, chiefly in the early English style, with portions of Norman and Decorated work, and consists of chancel, nave of four bays, south aisle, north porch and a low tower on the south side, with an octagonal broach spire, and containing 6 bells. The interior is enriched by some fine carved work in wood and stone, beside several stained windows and a monument to Mr. Vernon, who died in London, May 22, 1849, and is buried in the church : the church was restored and enlarged in 1887 at a cost of £3,500, defrayed by Lord Wantage and by the present vicar and his wife, who decorated the chancel and presented the carved font cover. ... The population in 1881 was 387 and, in 1891, was 496 in the civil and 432 in the ecclesiastical parish" (Kelly's, 1899[3]).

The work undertaken in 1887 included the lengthening of the nave, re-building the west and south aisles, the replacement of the lead roof with Stonefield slates and Messrs. Bacon's hot water heating system was installed to warm the building[4].

Just visible on the extreme left exterior wall of the church is a heavily weathered plaque commemorating the Hobbis family.

Monument Inscription to Hobbis family, Ardington

"Near this Place
lieth the Body of
who departed this Life Jany. 12 1768
Aged ?6 Years [possibly 56?]
Likewise the body of
who departed this life Decr. 13 1801
Aged 71 Years
Likewise the Body of
who departed this Life Jany. 24th 1806
Aged 74 Years
Our Redeemer Liveth in Him we trust
At last the day will rise our sleeping dust
Also of JOHN HOBBIS, who
died July 1st 1841 aged 81 years."

There are slight differences between the dates of death for William and John shown on the plaque and those shown in the parish records and on John's death certificate.

Inside the church.

The picture of the interior on the right looks down the nave and through the chancel arch towards the altar.

Although we cannot see it here, the chancel is magnificent. The work was part of the 1887 restoration and was undertaken by Mr. J. Wheeler of Wantage under the direction of the architect, Mr. Somers Clarke[4].

It also shows, on the top right and just above another arch, one of the dramatic gargoyles that form the base of the roof timbers.

The word gargoyle comes from a French word meaning to gargle and it was originally applied to the often hideous spouts attached to guttering to direct rainwater away from the stonework of the building. Later the word evolved to include all forms of grotesque or monster, whether inside or out.

Interior of Ardington Church

The gargoyle on the right, of a woman with her tongue sticking out, is one of a number high up on the walls of the nave.

Some gargoyles were stonemasons' jokes but most were designed either to frighten away evil spirits or to remind the congregation of the perils of life and of their mortality.

Gargoyle of a woman, Ardington Church

The memorial commemorating a village hero.

In June 1901 the owner of Lockinge House, Robert James Lindsay, Lord Wantage, passed away. As a young man of 22 he had been awarded the Victoria Cross as he had "distinguished himself brilliantly" at the Battle of the Alma and Inkerman during the Crimean War[5]. He was Gazetted on 24 February 1857[6].

The following year a tribute to his memory was unveiled near the village centre. This was a large stone bench, which had been erected near the church at the junction of Well Lane and Church Lane. A few months beforehand the villagers had all subscribed to a fund to commemorate him locally and a public seat was agreed as the most fitting, useful and lasting memorial[7].

An inscription is on the back reads:
"Erected by the Parishioners of Ardington in grateful remembrance of Robert James Lord Wantage V.C., K.C.B. their friend and benefactor. 1902." The words "Alma" and "Inkerman", surmounted by the Victoria Cross are on one side, denoting his time during the Crimean War. His crest and a Latin inscription "Astra Castra Numen Lumen" are on the other[7].

Church and memorial bench
Holy Trinity Church, Ardington
and stone memorial bench in remembrance of Lord Wantage. About 1903.

The following may be of interest:
Our Genealogy
The Hault Hucknall entry in "Derbyshire's Parishes, 1811" mentions Thomas Hobbes
Funeral garlands in Matlock church - Nothing to do with Oxfordshire, but an interesting custom

Images 1-4. Photographs © Andy Andrews. These images rescanned 2007.
Image 5. "Ardington Church and Memorial Seat", postcard published by Tom Reveley, The Studio, Wantage, in 1903. Printed in Germany. Unused. Stamp box states Postage Inland 1/2d Foreign 1d.
Please contact Andy Andrews if you are interested in Hobbis, Wells and Mallam genealogy,
All other information provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only

References and notes on the text:

[1] "Berkshire Chronicle",05 June 1847. Re-opening of Ardington Church.

[2] "Kelly's Berkshire Directory" (1848), Kelly and Co., London.

[3] "Kelly's Directory of Berkshire", (1899), Kelly's Directories Limited, London - High Holborn, WC

[4] "Reading Mercury" 29 October 1887.

[5] "The Times" 11 June 1901. Death Of Lord Wantage. He had been M.P. for Berkshire between 1865 and 1885 and was afterwards Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire until his death.

[6] "The Times" 26 Feb 1867.1901. The Victoria Cross (from a supplement of the London Gazette).
1901. "Scots Fusileer Guards.
Brevet-Major ROBERT JAMES LINDSAY. When the formation of the line was disordered at Alma, Captain LIndsay stood firm with the colours, and by his example and energy greatly tended to restore order. At Inkermann, at a most trying moment, he, with a few men, charged a party of Russians, driving them back, ..."

[7] "Berks and Oxon Advertiser" 4 July 1902. The Late Lord Wantage. Unveiling a Memorial at Ardington.

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