The South Aisle



A tour of St John the Baptist

South Aisle


Moving from the Font into the South Aisle, the window on the west wall has fairly typical Victorian figures of the four Gospel writers, together with their symbols and the date 1902 beneath it. On the column on the right is a memorial to Samuel Harris, Town Yeoman. This meant he was a small landowner and probably able to serve on juries. His wife is the oldest person commemorated that I have found so far.

Look at the War Memorials – very much the starting point for the town’s Act of Remembrance every November. Memorials to both World Wars and the Falklands campaign. At the time of casting some names were omitted but they are included with the names every year on Remembrance Sunday.  

Look up at the roof above you with its wooden panels. They were originally of oak but some were replaced with deal in Victorian times and the last restoration gave all a uniform colour.  Most of the “bosses” are a floral design but above you is a lovely black face with his red tongue sticking out. Many years ago the lead was removed from this roof and replaced with slates. Unfortunately the shallow slope let water in causing problems for many years especially over the organ pipes. Thankfully, after more than one attempt the problem seems to be solved.

At your feet is the tombstone of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Saunders and their very young children and on the wall a plaque to John Emery and his children. Thankfully child mortality is so much less than it was in those days but it is still with us and this is a place to pause occasionally and remember those for whom it is a reality today.

Above the organ is a second face – a Green Man. An ancient pagan symbol, a figure with leaves or small branches coming from his mouth. On the wall is the Whippie family memorial ‘of Stockwood in this Parish’. Ann is described as the relict, an old word for widow and Sarah is the generous giver we saw on the Charity Boards. The diamond shaped board is a hatchment, probably carried on the coffin.

The ‘arms’ are of the Milward family and as both sides are on a black background a widow is commemorated. Milward Lodge in Bristol Road has a similar shaped white plaque which carries the date 1600. The Milward family founded the Alms houses in Charlton Road.  

The corner window (1876) depicts three occasions when Jesus raised to life someone who had died. Jairus’s daughter (Luke ch8 v 55), the widow of Nain’s son (Luke ch5 v14) and his friend Lazarus (John ch11 v44). Whilst the octagonal pillars in the aisle date from the 14th century the windows are about a hundred years later; the Black Death was around at that time!

The oak screen into the choir vestry would have originally separated the nave from the chancel/choir. The bright sun symbol was adopted by King Edward IV after he won the crown in 1461. If you look very carefully at some of the carved pieces, particularly in the doorway of the vestry, you might see a joining line.

In 2008, repair and restoration of this screen (and the one in the choir) was the most expensive of all the FRIENDS projects. The repairs in bog oak show skilled carving of the highest quality. And on the top left corner – our own little Friar Tuck!   

Edmund Prideaux