History of the Church and Village of Orcheston
St Mary’s Orcheston is another very ancient church, which this parish is now blessed to have within its care. The oldest parts of the building are 13th century (the tower for example). The Chancel dates from the 16th century but was extensively rebuilt by our friends the Victorians in 1833, as part of a major restoration. But perhaps what is so special about this church isn’t the age of the bits you now see, but the hints of what has been here for generations.
Tucked down at the ‘bottom’ of the village, just as the lane opens out into Salisbury Plain, surrounded by trees and a large, quiet churchyard, this church brings a sense of timelessness and peace to those who find it and stop for a moment inside. There is little additional decoration in terms of memorials or fancy fittings, but the windows in the chancel bring some beautiful colour and light.
If you are here for a service you’ll find that Communion is celebrated at an altar which is made of stone and fixed to the wall. Although some dislike this style of altar, it means that the priest finds themselves standing with the people, looking up towards Christ and offering prayers with their community.
A story about this church, which has yet to be disproved, is that some time back – a century or two ago – the vicar had to ride on horseback into his church because it was full of water. To be fair, when we have flooding on the Plain the churchyard often ends up under water, so perhaps this idea is not that far fetched after all!
If you have an extra moment, wander up into the chancel and enjoy looking at the windows there. You’ll find images of saints, delicate passion flowers, and in the East Window, you will maybe notice that the base of ‘pillars’ in each window panel look just like bottles of Tomato ketchup!