The chapel is a 'peculiar'; existing outside the control of the Church
of England. It was traditionally endowed by two maiden sisters named
Hewett in the early 13th century. It is now an independent foundation,
held in trust since 1575 by twelve feoffees who are responsible for the
preservation and upkeep of the chapel on behalf of the townspeople of
Warminster who actually 'own 'it. Saint Lawrence was martyred by the
Romans, being roasted to death on a gridiron. His festival is on August
10th and the Patronal festival is held each year on the closest Sunday
to this date. The chapel is in the Church of England Parish of St.
Denys and, on the appointment of a new vicar, the feoffees invite that
person to take services. From time to time other members of the clergy
are invited to take services. Prayers for Peace are held on Monday;s 12 noon.
A service of Holy Communion is held each Wednesday at 10.00am .
Requests for Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals
may be made to the chair of the feoffees. Weddings may require a
special licence and the undertakers do have some difficulties in
manoeuvring the coffin inside the chapel! ( Contact numbers here )
Situated in the centre of the market town of Warminster the chapel is
an oasis of calm in the midst of the traffic and commerce of the town.
The chapel is opened every weekday and on Saturdays and many people
take the opportunity to pop in and sit quietly in contemplation. The
feoffees maintain a security rota and there is CCTV coverage.
Inside the chapel there is a Scudamore Organ, built in 1860 by Nelson
Hall, an organ maker of the town, to a design by the vicar of Upton
Scudamore the Rev John Baron MA.
. At the West End there are the boards recording the names of the
Feoffees since it was donated to the townsfolk right up to the current
Stained glass windows, dating from 1855, the one to the north celebrates Easter, the new south window funded by the Chapel Friends and undertaken by Salisbury Cathedral Glass in 2014, replaced a plain one
which had suffered from bomb damage in
the last war.
The rather unusual chair to the north by the altar was donated by the
late Geoffrey Butcher as the original was stolen! This chair was made
by Matthew Burt of Sherrington
A visitors book is always open to record your visit, please leave a
comment if you visit, and if you would like a prayer said for a loved
one, then fill in a prayer slip and "post " it in the prayer box.
The tower is the oldest part of the chapel, dating from the fourteenth
century and is accessed by an anti-clockwise spiral staircase. On the
way up you pass the clock room which houses a wrought iron clock built
by William Rudd in 1764, and paid for by public subscription, it has no
face as, at that time houses were standing in front of the chapel, thus
a face would not have been seen.
Climbing higher you reach the Belfry, which houses the curfew bell,
cast by John Lott in 1652, his foundry was just over the road in the
common close. This bell still sounds the curfew at 8pm, the residents
are grateful it does not sound at 4 am which was the original 'wake up'
From the roof a spectacular view of the town can be seen and a series
of photographs, exhibited in the chapel, show this panoramic view.
Before you go, as you walk out through the door, look up to view the
"horrific" gargoyles sneering down at you enough to frighten even the
devils they were protecting the worshiper from!
The chapel acts as a focal point for many activities including the
Cross raised on the front lawn at Easter and the Field of Remembrance
in November. At the time of the death of Princess Diana people came to
lay flowers in the garden and, more recently, a Liverpool scarf was
laid by someone to commemorate the anniversary of the Hillsborough
disaster. From 2009 until 2012 the chapel housed Condolence Books for the 13 locally based soldiers who died helping others on foreign soil.
Behind the chapel is a cottage which was originally used by the sexton
who had to ring the rising bell (4am) and the curfew bell (8pm). The
bell rope led into the cottage so the sexton did not have to leave the
cottage. This cottage was renovated by the feoffees in 2007 and income from the letting provides the chapel with its only regular source
The upkeep of any building requires constant attention and, in 2008 the
"Friends of the Chapel of St. Lawrence" (FOCSL) was established to
support the work of the feoffees. More information about their work can
be found on a separate page.
The History of The Chapel of St Laurence Chapel by David Pollard