St. Michael and All Angels, Great Badminton
The Church of St. Michael and All Angels is the parish church of Badminton. Despite housing many great monuments to the Dukes and Duchesses of Beaufort and their family, the church is the responsibility of the Badminton PCC and not the Badminton Estate.
The church is attached to the seat of the Dukes of Beaufort, Badminton House and was built in 1785 by Charles Evans, in the style of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in miniature, but with a plain West tower.
The medieval church which was then demolished lay slightly further to the West. The nave has a tunnel-vault with ornamental panelled plasterwork and Classical four-bay arcades and aisles with four small saucer domes. The chancel and apse were added in 1875 to accommodate the enormous monument by Grinling Gibbons which was moved here from St George's Chapel, Windsor.
THE PULPIT and BOX PEWS are of the original date.
THE ORGAN CASE, CHOIR STALLS, REREDOS, and COMMUNION RAIL are by Temple Moore, 1908.
STAINED GLASS: The eight windows for the aisles, four on each side, have stained glass of 1846-7 by Thomas Willement, with heraldic designs, blue borders, and badges in the yellow of the Beaufort livery. The elaborate East Window depicts St. Peter and St. John healing the lame man on the steps of the Temple (Acts 3 1-12) and was created by Frederic Shields.
PLATE: Chalice and Paten Cover, 1675; Flagon, 1732 by James Wilkes; two Alms dishes, 1759 by Richard Gosling.
1. The Grinling Gibbons monument on the North side of the chancel consists of an effigy of the first Duke of Beaufort (d.1700), in Garter robes, reclining on a sarcophagus and a plinth with relief of St George and the Dragon. There are twin Corinthian columns with embossed shafts, acanthus frieze, cornice with flaming urns, and the Duke's arms and supporters. At the top, 25 ft from the ground, is a tasseled cushion supporting a coronet; on the plinth are full-length female figures of Justice and Truth. Above the Duke's effigy, parted curtains show the heavenly host with palms and crowns. The Latin inscription displays the names of his family and his many high offices.
2. At the East end of North aisle there is a splendid monument by Rysbrack, signed and dated 1754. The second and third Dukes are in Roman costume, one standing, the other seated on the sarcophagus holding a medallion. Glorious, totally asymmetrical drapery hangs down over the sarcophagus.
3. At the East end of the South aisle is another monument by Rysbrack to the 4th Duke of Beaufort. It depictis him in Roman costume in the pose of an orator.
4. In the South aisle is a memorial tablet to General Lord Edward Somerset GCB, son of the 5th Duke of Beaufort. He commanded the Household Cavalry at the Battle of Waterloo and fought during the Peninsular War. Lord Edward is also locally remembered by the Hawkesbury Monument which was erected to his memory on the Cotswold Escarpment at Hawkesbury.
5. Also in the South aisle is a memorial tablet to Field Marshal Lord Fitzroy Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan, youngest son of the 5th Duke of Beaufort. Lord Raglan is best remembered as the Commander of the British Forces during the Crimean War. His body lies in the vault beneath the church.
The Church of St. Michael and All Angels at Great Badminton is in need of much restoration work. In particular, much of its external stonework must be repaired or replaced due to weathering and damage over the years. Water is ingressing through the upper stonework of the church and its tower. Internally its antiquated electrical circuits need to be replaced with safe modern systems. As the church is owned and maintained by the PCC (not the Badminton Estate), in early 2015 we have begun a fundraising campaign to raise money to restore the fabric of the church. You can find more detailed information on the Badminton Church Restoration Fund website (www.badmintonchurchrestoration.org.uk).
Access to St. Michael and All Angels, Great Badminton
Currently, for reasons beyond our control, the church is closed to general access. However, it is open whenever there is an advertised service and also at any time by appointment. The church is also visited during organised tours of Badminton House. To arrange a visit to Great Badminton, please contact Mrs Sheilah Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01454 218648.