Welcome to St Giles Church
Rev Stephen Skinner
Email: Stephen Skinner
Telephone 01297 443763
Mrs Val Hunt
Email: Val Hunt
Licensed Lay Minister:
Mr Jim Pettifer
Email: Jim Pettifer
Times of Services:
1st Sunday in the month: Village service which is a simple service of hymns, readings and prayers followed by refreshments provided by The Friends of St Giles
2nd and 4th Sundays in the month: Holy Communion
3rd Sundays in the month: Chideock Praise which is a more spiritual, and using less formal language, type of worship, including hymns, readings and prayers.
5th Sunday in the month: Morning prayer
All services start at 11am.
It is all but impossible to say how old the Parish Church of St Giles is, because the present building has evolved over several hundred years. Today, it is pretty much as the Victorians left it after the restoration of 1884-85.
Much of the stonework is much older. The oldest part of the church is the nave which dates from the 12th Century. There was then, presumably a chancel too, where the altar now stands. The present chancel was built in the 1880’s.
In the 14th Century the north transept was added, (where the organ now stands). This appears to have been a private chapel for the lords of the manor. There used to be a door (by the side of the present pulpit) which would have given access across the churchyard to the castle. The 15th Century saw further building, the south aisle, the Arundell Chapel, the tower and the porch were all added.
The Arundell Chapel stands at the head of the south aisle. The Arundell family were lords of the manor from 1450 to 1802. They inherited Chideock by marriage, and in 1802, the then Lord Arundell sold the estate to his cousin, Thomas Weld. The chapel contains a 15th Century marble tomb and effigy thought to be Sir John Arundell.
The church acquired a new organ in 1892. Sited in the chapel, for over 70 years it obscured an important part of the church’s history. In the mid 1960’s, the organ was moved to its present position and the chapel was restored and refurnished. It was rededicated by the Bishop of Salisbury on the 20th July 1969.
The tower contains a belfry with a peal of 6 bells. The oldest, cast in 1602, has a freak inscription “Love Dog” which should, of course, read “Love God”, but the letters were accidentally transposed in the casting. A bell was cast in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee and 10 years later the clock was erected at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. In 2011-12 the old oak bell frame was replaced by a metal one and a 6th bell was cast, mostly paid for by the people of Chideock, so we now have a Queen Elizabeth 11 Diamond Jubilee bell. In 2013 the ringing floor was replaced and an oak screen erected with a glass panel at the top, so we can now see the ringers.
The windows of the church are worth more than a casual glance. Unfortunately, two are lost to view behind the organ, one being an unusual Jesse Tree window. The others depict Christ raising the dead, the presentation of the infant Christ in the temple and the Ascension. Just behind the pulpit is a small window depicting St Giles. St Giles, the church’s patron saint is one of those saints about whom little is known. He is always associated with beggars and wayfarers (as their patron). He became a popular saint in the Middle Ages. His feast is kept on 1st September.
The font (by the door to symbolise entry into the Christian life) is medieval, 14thor 15th century. The cover is more recent in origin.
As with so many churches, ours has been enriched by individual gifts from parishioners, the splendid brass lectern, the litany desk and the carpet in the Arundel Chapel are some. The heating, installed in 1987 was paid for by parishioners joining in a common endeavour.
The church is set in its churchyard. This was closed to further burials nearly 70 years ago. In the 1920’s the church acquired a detached burial ground, some 300 yards west of the church. In the early 1970’s, when the main road was widened, several graves were removed from the front of the church to the burial ground. This explains why, among all the burials from the 1920’s onwards, you suddenly come across memorials from the mid-19th century.