A tribute to the life and work of Brian Torode
A LOST CHURCH BY SCOLES – OUR LADY OF LOURDES, WROUGHTON
William Wyndham Codrington (1825-1905) married Cecilia Charlotte Webb at Whiteparish in Wiltshire on 21st June 1854. He was the son William and Laetitia Codrington and she the daughter of Frederick and Mary Webb. The Codringtons had had long connections with Wroughton so it is not surprising to find William’s baptism recorded in the register of St John’s Parish Church. However, the entry reveals that he was christened privately on 30th August 1825, in the Parish of ‘St Mary le Bone’ (sic), London.
I have yet to discover where Codrington received his education as he appears to be missing from both the 1841 and 1851 censuses. The 1861 census return find William Wyndham Codrington staying at the Euston Hotel but, ten years later, he was living with his wife and three young children at Wroughton House together with their butler, groom, housekeeper, nurse maid, nurse, house maid and two kitchen maids. Codrington was described as a Magistrate and Landowner. Their son, Alexander was baptised at Lindridge in Worcestershire in 1864 and Kate their youngest child was baptised in Wroughton Parish Church in 1867.
Although the name Webb may suggest a link with the old Catholic Family of Webb of Odstock and also Cecilia’s mother was born in Dublin, it would seem likely that both of the Codringtons were converts and became Roman Catholics sometime between 1867 and 1872. My 1884 edition of ‘Converts to Rome,’ by W. Gordon Gorman, lists Mr William Codrington of Wroughton House amongst the ‘Nobility and Gentry’ but offers us no date. On 3rd April 1872 their daughters, Cecilia Maria, aged fourteen, and Catherine Georgiana, aged four, were re-baptised in the Heilig Geist Katholisch at Heidelberg in Baden.
Shortly afterwards the architect priest, Canon Alexander Joseph Cory Scoles, was invited to draw up plans for their chapel at Wroughton House. This chapel was opened and blessed by Bishop William Clifford on 5th July 1873. The dedication to Our Lady of Lourdes may be significant as it is an early date for this title. An account in ‘The Tablet’ for 12th July 1873, reported:
‘It will hold about sixty persons and is open to the public. It is built in the early decorated style from the designs of A.J.C. Scoles, Esq. a son of the late J. J. Scoles, Esq. who is also the architect of the new church at Prior Park. The stone carving is by Mr. G. Porter, sculptor, of Bath, and the glass and fittings have been supplied by Messrs. Thomas Orr & Co. of Baker Street, London.’
in 1881 the Codringtons were living at Rectory House, Wroughton, and it is likely that they were leasing out Wroughton House as, during the following year Mr. and Mrs. Ferdinand Eyre, accompanied by Mrs. Eyre’s mother, the Dowager Lady Bedingfield, entertained some 140 children from Holy Rood School, Swindon. They had walked the four miles to Wroughton House, in procession led by the Swindon Town Band. Besides sports for the children there were also ‘several open-air choruses by Weber, Rossini and Mendelssohn’ sung by members of the St Cecilia’s Society.’
Mass was apparently celebrated weekly in the chapel by the Swindon clergy but this arrangement ceased in 1885 with an occasional celebration in 1887. The mission seems to have been closed in 1891. At that time the Codrington seem to be staying with other families at 36 Great Western Road, Paddington. It is possible that they spent time on the continent as there is no obvious record for them in the 1901 census. However, we know that their son, Arthur John, was educated at Stonyhurst College before entering the University of London in 1883.
When Codrington died on 2nd February 1905 he was buried at Wroughton and the incumbent wrote in the entry ‘Under Burials Act 1880’ which probably referred to the burial being conducted by a Roman Catholic Priest. Surprisingly, his effects were valued at only £81-2-4d. His widow died on 26th June 1909 and on 30th June, the Reverend Richard Keble recorded the buried Cecilia Charlotte Codrington, aged eighty-two-years, of Wroughton House. Once again he referred to the Burial Laws Amendment Act of 1880.
‘At any burial under this Act all persons shall have free access to the churchyard or graveyard in which the same shall take place. The burial may take place, at the option of the person so having the charge of or being responsible for the same as aforesaid, either without any religious service, or with such Christian and orderly religious service at the grave, as such person shall think fit; and any person or persons who shall be thereunto invited, or be authorised by the person having the charge of or being responsible for such burial, may conduct such service or take part in any religious act thereat. The words “Christian service” in this section shall include every religious service used by any church, denomination, or person professing to be Christian.’
Finally, their youngest child, Katherine Georgiana Codrington of Wroughton House was buried with her ancestors in the Anglican churchyard, under the Burial Act, on 22nd February 1911 aged forty-three-years.
The Chapel was situated near to the gates, on the opposite side of the driveway, at the North end of the North Wing of Wroughton House. Back in 2005 Captain Christopher Codrington wrote some notes about the building:
‘The name of the chapel appears to have been changed later, as an Ordnance Survey map of 1910 shows it as “St Michael’s R.C. Chapel SD”, i.e. semi-derelict.
The building had already tumbled down in 1920 when my late cousin remembered it. The site had been used as a rubbish tip during the 14-18 war; as children they had used it as a garden. When playing there they often came across broken cups and saucers etc. and once a china angel holding an oblong bowl which was rather pretty – 8-10 inches high perhaps (It sounds as though this was a holy water stoup). During the last war it was abandoned and became completely overgrown with ivy – and at some stage a yew tree grew up in the middle which had to be cut down about 1986…. The length of the chapel was approximately 31 feet.
When we came here twenty years ago we found the oak doors and their wooden archway in one of the sheds – the doors have been used for the door between the house and the churchyard of St John’s. There had originally been four oak steps down on the inside of the doorway, but these had been attacked by woodworm while the chapel was still in use and replaced by pine ones which have not survived…’
Captain Codrington further mentioned that the cellar, below the North Wing of the house, may have been used as a sacristy. Furthermore, he wondered if the Chapel may have been converted from an apple store or outbuilding which previously existed on the site.
It would be interesting to learn more about this lost chapel and also to discover more about the Codringtons and their links with the Catholic Church. I would like to thank Captain Christopher Codrington for his generous help and also to record my indebtedness to the Wiltshire compilers for their entry on Wroughton in ‘The Diocese of Clifton 1850-2000’ Finally a ‘thank you’ to Duncan and Mandy Ball for allowing me to use their photograph of the Codrington Wall Tablet.