Aldbourne is a picture-perfect English village, tucked away in the folds of the Wiltshire countryside. At one end of the large village green stands the handsome church of St. Michael.
It is thought the first church here was constructed in 966 AD, probably in wood. At the time of the Domesday Book the priest of Aldbourne owned two hides of land, which are most likely the basis of todays churchyard. By the middle of the 12th Century the church had been rebuilt in stone. Most of this church was destroyed in a fire around 1220, although the south doorway and some other masonry does survive. The new church was built in a cruciform shape with a central crossing tower and dedicated was to St. Mary Magdalene.
In 1460 Richard Goddard had the central tower removed and the 99 foot tall west tower constructed. It seems probably that it was at this period that the church was re-dedicated to St. Michael.
The church was well known in the Stuart period as a music school and it had a wooden gallery on which the musicians studied. However, by 1858 the church was in a very poor state, the roof was leaking and the interiors dilapidated. Restoration took place in 1867 under the guidance of William Butterfield and the internal galleries were lost at this time. The original roof was built over, although the 15th Century one still exists and is today the ceiling inside the church.
In 1971 Aldbourne was used by Doctor Who as the setting for the fondly remembered story The Dæmons starring Jon Pertwee and Aldbourne Church was central to the drama. At the end of the story the church is destroyed and the BBC received many complaints about the alleged destruction, even though it was a model which was used.
The BBC chose Aldbourne because it looked like an archetypical English village and it still does today with St. Michaels Church as the focus of the village green.
Photo - Andrew J. Müller
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