St Mary, Lasborough
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The small church at Lasborough is situated in a hidden valley off the A46 road. It is sited immediately above the 17th century manor house and fits snugly into the hillside. The Domesday Book of 1086 records a priest at Lasborough, and thus probably a church, but nothing more is known about it. The medieval church consisted of a chancel, nave and north porch, but by the 1820s it was derelict, open to animals with a pea hen nesting in the pulpit and used for storage. Its decay had been hastened by the removal in 1825 of a substantial monument to Sir Thomas Estcourt, who died in 1624, to Shipton Moyne Church, where it remains in a side chapel.
The ruinous church was rebuilt in 1861-2 by Lewis Vulliamy for R. S. Holford, who had purchased the Lasborough estate in 1844. It is on the old lines but with an extended nave and new south porch and this is the church which is to-day used for regular Sunday worship. Unfortunately, no drawings were made of the appearance of the old church before it was demolished.
Vulliamy designed the new church in the early decorated style, with limewashed walls and a stone floor. The total cost was £759 16s 2d. He had originally hoped to incorporate elements of the earlier church into the new building, but all that he was finally able to include were the Norman font, a little pointed recess in the wall by the altar, which was probably part of the old piscina, the 17th century altar rails with widely spaced balusters and some of the stonewark of the original porch which was blocked in to form the new vestry. Two 19th century additions were also retained, the monument to the infant son of a recent curate and the stone pulpit presented by Henry Randall.
The interior decoration of the church is simple. There are tall pews with rose finials, basic patterned glass windows ordered from Powells in 1861 and a massive 17th century oak table from a farmhouse on the Holfords' estate in Arlingham as the altar. A brass Memorial records the death of four privates during the First World War while the grave of an Australian airman, whose plane crashed somewhere in the hills, is in the churchyard. Two wall tablets by Diana Hoare were erected in 1992.
Any visitor who watched the recent BBC series Lark Rise to Candleford may recognise the church and churchyard. They featured in a number of episodes.
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