St John the Baptist, Hannington

Hannington Church is dedicated to St John the Baptist, but records of 1317 suggest that it was previously dedicated to St David.  This was not the first church on this site.  The south doorway and the porch doorway are the remains of an earlier building of around 1160.  The porch itself appears to be 14th century with a curious niche in the east wall.  There is a theory that the now isolated church was once surrounded by the village, but that in 1348 its people, like many others at the time, moved to a safe distance and burnt the village in an attempt to stop the Black Death. 

The nave was built not later than 1230.  The north and south walls throughout, and the buttresses at the eastern end were built in the 15th century, as were the adjoining windows and the staircase to the rood-loft.  On the north wall one window was filled in, and a door placed there is still visible on the outside.  There is a 13th century coffin slab on one of the south buttresses.  

The chancel is perpendicular in style and dates from about 1450, but a small priest’s door in the south wall looks like 13th century rebuilt.  The east window is a three - light pointed one set unusually high, and has probably been raised.  A small window on the south side is by Theodora Salusbury. 

The buttressed tower is about 1430, and rises in three stages to the battlemented parapet with carved gargoyles at the corners.  

The oldest monument (1290) in the church is the recumbent figure of an anchoress, or female recluse, who probably lived in a stone cell in the churchyard at the end of the 13th century.  There is a record of her being granted a supply of wheat by King Edward the First in 1286.  It is situated near the lectern. 

The font was originally a plain octagonal one of the 15th century.  There is a drawing of it in the British Museum.  In 1851 it was restored, the plain surface was carved, and the original stem replaced by a new one.  The old one was given to Stanton Fitzwarren Church.  

Like many others, our church was ‘restored’ in Victorian times.  In 1871 the vestry was built and the inside of the church considerably changed.  The nave walls were stripped of their monuments which were moved back under the tower, together with the floor slabs marking the burial places of Raulfe and William Freke in the chancel.  

The old pulpit and seats, dating from the early 17th century, were removed, and the floor was tiled.  In 1927 the Freke memorials were replaced in the nave, and the rood-loft staircase door, which was blocked up, was reopened.

There is a peal of six bells; five dating from 1639.  One of them was recast in 1919, and they were all rehung on a new cast iron framework in 1958.  The sixth bell was added in 1967.  Wood from the old timbers was used to make the bowls and crosses to be seen in the church. 

Restoration work carried out on the Pile Monument, situated in the tower during May 1997, has  revealed  plaster work of the 15th century  which can be seen at the top left hand side of the monument. 

No valuable items are left un-attended in the church overnight, all such items are secured off site.