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24 September 2014

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You are in: Wiltshire > Faith > features > The tiniest church in Britain

The Church of Bremilham

The tiniest church in Britain

Just 4m by 3.6m with a single four seater pew... Bremilham Church is officially the smallest 'in service' church in Britain.

Perched on a small grassy mound, in the middle of a farm yard, on the outskirts of Malmesbury sits the tiniest church 'in service' in Britain… Bremilham Church.

The Church of Bremilham

It's barely 4 metres long by 3.6 metres wide, has all the appearances of a 'Monopoly House' and is dwarfed by the neighbouring farm buildings of Cowage Farm.

Inside there's scarcely room for a congregation larger than ten, seating for just four on one tiny pew and no room for an altar…

But despite it's diminutive size this tiny little church still manages to draw quite a crowd and some big name guest preachers at it's once a year service for Rogationtide:

"There's been one service a year here for the last 25 to 30 years," says Reverend Malcolm Ross, "and usually we get 50 plus people.

"But because the church itself can only accommodate at most 10 people, or if they're very friendly 20, most of the service takes places outside the church come rain or shine."

For Bremilham Church, however, having a service at all is an achievement.  In fact, according to the Reverend Ross, it was only when the present farm owners arrived that the tiny church finally made it into the Guinness Book of Records:

"For years it was used for keeping turkeys in, by the local farmer, but when the Collins’ came here they cleaned it all out and got the Bishop to come and bless it and it was constituted as a little church."

For Bindy, one of the Collins’ that put Bremilham Church back on the map, buying Cowage Farm has also meant taking possession of her very own mini church:

The Reverend Malcolm Ross

The Reverend Malcolm Ross

"We have to pay for the upkeep of the church," says Bindy, "it's in the deeds of the farm, but we like to keep it as a church.

"Both of our children were christened there.  My youngest grand child was christened there in 1992 and my husband buried there last year."

Perks of church ownership aside, it has to be assumed that Bremilham church wasn't built as yet another 1800's Guinness World Record attempt…

So why was such a tiny church built? and why was it needed when there was a perfectly good church just half a mile down the road?

"There was a large church here originally," says Bindy, "but it was pulled down in the early 1800's and this one was built, but very much smaller.

The Church of Bremilham

"But why it was pulled down, we don't know and nobody knows, it's not in any church records.  And why should they bother to replace it when there's already a village church in Foxley?"

From what is known, it seems that the tiny Church of Bremilham is all that’s left of the village of Bremilham, which dropped off the map in the 1600s, and the Parish of Bremilham, which disappeared into the parish of Foxley in the 1980's:

"We're all that's left of the village of Bremilham," says Bindy, "and the Parish of Bremilham was never very big it was practically just this farm…"

So if you're thinking about 'beating the bounds' for Rogationtide and don't fancy a long hike the tiny Church at Bremilham could just prove to be the least arduous parish to tour!

The Rogation Sunday Service is held at Bremilham Church on the Sixth Sunday of Easter.  The church is located in Cowage Farm, Foxley, on the outskirts of Malmesbury.

last updated: 14/12/2007 at 11:08
created: 29/04/2005

Have Your Say

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Mr Fred Polhill
Sir, I was friends with the reverand Malcolm Ross and on his last card he told me that he had moved but forgot to inclde his new address so I have been unable to contact him. Just on the offchance I put his name up on Yahoo and came up with your article. If you could forward my E, Mail address to him He could contact me I would be most obliged, with thanks Fred Polhill

That is amazing !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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