Vines and the Church
The Big Picture
The Reformation movement
in England,which brought a change to the beliefs and practices of the christian
faith, and the domination of the state by The Holy Roman Catholic Empire,
probably dates from the days of John
Wycliffe 1328-1384. On the continent his writings influenced Jan
Hus 1369-1415, the Bohemian activist whose teachings founded the Moravian
Church, and Martin
Luther 1483-1546 in Germany.
In France they were followed
by John Calvin
1509-1564 and others. King Henry VIII in England replaced the Vaticans
power over the English church in the 1530s.
During the 1640s a convention
of leading theologians
Assembly of Divines) met in the Jerusalem Chamber of the Westminster
Parliament to determine the acceptable creed and governance of the Church
of England (Westminster
Confession). It is of interest to note that the Rev.
Richard Vines was a prominent member of the Westminster Assembly of
The parish church at Brinkworth,
where many Vines were buried, is St Michael
and All Angels, built about 800 years ago. The birth burial and marriage
register is continuous from 1653, after disruption to life throughout England
by the civil war and execution of the king.
Most of the conformist Vines
from Grittenham were baptised and married here and buried in the churchyard.
Burials occurred in the churchyard of St Michaels until the end of the
1800s, when a new cemetery nearby was opened. An honour board within the
church gives the name of four Vines who were killed in action during the
Great War 1914-'18.
The graves were usually
marked with vertical headstones inscribed with name and date and perhaps
a few words of biblical or other text in remembrance. Much of these inscriptions
is now obscured by long periods of growth of lichens
growing on the stone. In addition the stone surface tends to weather or
deteriorate from chemical reaction with rainwater and organic pollutants,
as well as the wetting/drying and frost freeze/thaw cycles of the weather.
It is regrettable that the permanent record in stone of past lives is slowly
The headstones of Benjamin
and Edward Vines from the 1700s are still standing here, though the
inscriptions are almost obliterated by lichens.
Tytherton Moravian Church
In 1768 Charles Vines, born
1722, took over the Vines Farm at Grittenham on death of his mother, his
father Benjamin having died in 1763. The following year Charles and his
wife Mary joined the Moravian Church at East Tytherton in the Bremhill
Parish. After that all subsequent baptisms, marriages and burials in this
family took place at the East Tytherton Church. (Vines House at Grittenham
was also used as a meeting place.)
This was one of the principal
Moravian or Bohemian Brethren settlements in England, with a church and
This region east of Chippenham
is a scenic and historic area. See Tytherton
for pictures of the church and school and the famous Maud
Heath causeway built in 1474 for access to Chippenham along the flood-prone
plain of the Avon River.
With the Presbyterian, Methodist,
Quakers and other independant denominations the Moravian Church is Non-conformist.
The Moravian burial
ground at Tytherton is behind the church and some distance from it.
are simple flat stones set face-up on the ground with just name, age and
date.This stone is the memorial for Rebecca Vines who was the wife of Jacob,
farmerof Charlcutt, Jacob who is buried in the Bremhill churchyard, was
son of Daniel and Elizabeth and grandson of Palmer Vines.
In a note from another researcher:
Jacob Vines bought a
house in Tytherton when he retired from farming at Charlcutt. I am
sure of this because in his Will he mentions his "freehold house and land
at Tytherton". I don't think he had anything to do with the Moravians
- only Rebecca and one of their two daughters joined them. Rebecca's application
was laid before the Committee on 22 Feb 1841. Jacob is buried in
Bremhill churchyard and Rebecca in the burial ground at Tytherton.
Because of their religious beliefs it would appear that they were laid
to rest, after 43 years together, in separate graves several miles apart.
It is of interest that, in
the 1851 census, mention was made of Ann Vines being an annuitant at the
Moravian establishment Sisters House. She was the niece, born 1789 at Potterne,
of Joshua Vines
of Reading who was bequeathed 5 pounds per year for life in his 1845
Tony Woodward states:
In 1851 Ann Vines was
at schedule 65b at Tytherton. Schedule 65a was occupied by Sarah
A. Johnson, "Superintendent of Moravian Establishment",
along with Elizabeth
Harman (61, "Annuitant"), and Elizabeth Courtney (19,
"Satin stich worker").
Their relationship to Sarah Johnson is described as
"Inmate". The 1841
census doesn't identify the Moravian Sisters House
specifically, but Mary
Hutton at Tytherton is listed as "Matron", in a house
containing seven other
females with ages from 70 down to 10. It looks as
though the Sisters House
was not just for retirement, but was perhaps a
private charitable institution
for girls and women of all ages. I would
like to hear more about
In 1861 Ann Vines is described
as a boarder at schedule 69, with Sarah
Johnson as Head, but
just the two of them in the household. Jacob and
Rebecca Vines were listed
on the next page at schedule 75, not the same
house at all.
East Tytherton Moravian
Church burials 1840-1916:
Ann VINES aged 80, place
of abode East Tytherton. Died 8 Feb 1870, buried
16 Feb 1870.
Thanks to Arthur Vine for this, May
‘The Parochial History of Bremhill’ by the Reverend William Bowles
was written c1827-28 as Bowles walks us through the different hamlets of
Chapter VII – Tytherton – Moravian Establishment.
But it is time to leave these reflections, and we shall now proceed below
the hill, by the side of the canal, from the hamlet of Stanley to that
of Tytherton, distinguished by a Moravian settlement, an interesting Christian
community which has, in many respects, the advantages of a religious establishment;
and in extensive parishes like this, where there is no officious intrusion,
such an establishment might be considered as subsidiary to the church of
What the convent was, in its humble and nascent state, this society exhibits.
The minister is a kind of “pater familiae”. Industry, peace,
and the spirit of religion are predominant. The industrious
and tranquil members of this community neither differ, nor profess to differ,
as to “credenda” from the church of England: they speak of her with the
greatest respect, and this feeling is always repaid by reciprocal regard
on the part of our clergy, throughout the kingdom. To Mr. Britton’s
account of the United Brethren in, “The Beauties of Wiltshire”, I must
refer to further particulars respecting this society, established in my
own parish, as I can vouch for its accuracy.
Their places of worship are never without that instrument, the solemn diapasons
of which are stigmatised by John Knox as “ungodly and unprofitable piping!”
The part of the parish, which the united brethren inhabit, has a peculiar
air of comfort. The buildings consist of a chapel, with a neat
connected residence for the minister, and another connected building appropriated
to a young ladies’ boarding school.
These are educated without regard to particular creeds, but all morally
and religiously. The Moravian brethren have been established
in this parish upwards of a hundred years; an act of Parliament having
passed in their favour, chiefly by the exertions of archbishop Wake, ancestor
of the wife of the present incumbent.
Before the buildings is a neat iron-fenced green, and at a small distance
a house for females employed in fine needlework. I conclude
these observations with a sigh of affectionate remembrance to the late
Lewis West, the minister, whose large family is now separated, with whom
the writer lived in intimacy for the space of seventeen years.
(As the whole of the West’s family were proficient in music, a monthly
concert was established at the parsonage.)
As I was present at Lewis West’s funeral, an account of the peculiar ceremonies
of this rite among the brethren may not be unacceptable.
The garden-green before the chapel is surrounded by those invited, the
neighbours of their own fraternity, old and young, and the young ladies
of the school all similarly dressed in white, with a simple black ribbon.
As soon as the coffin is brought from the house, the officiating minister
reads the opening verses of our funeral service, (“I heard a voice from
Heaven”, finely set for four voices, by C.B. Wollaston, was performed,
accompanied on the organ.), after which he gives out the first stanza of
a hymn –
aged friend is gone to rest”.
young women sing this in unison, and the effect is very impressive.
The coffin is then borne into the chapel; the clergy of the established
church invited go the next in order, then the Moravian ministers, and afterwards
the congregation. A sermon is preached, and, in the same order
as before, the coffin is borne to the burial ground. The whole
of the area is surrounded on one side by the women of the establishment,
and the young females; on the other side by the minister, friends and fraternity
The whole join in an affecting hymn, after which the coffin is deposited
in the earth, and a few prayers are read.
At the afternoon service in the chapel, there are prayers and an appropriate
anthem. The minister then gives a narrative of the life of
the departed brother, and the congregation, rich and poor, concludes the
whole by taking bread together, and what is difficult to mention with appropriate
seriousness, drinking tea!
The place devoted to receive the last remains of those who die among the
congregation, is a square enclosure, to which a walk leads from the sisters’
house and the minister’s; a few firs and shrubs surround it.
The sisters are buried by themselves, and another portion of the consecrated
ground is allotted to the brethren. A small square stone is
laid on the ground, the top somewhat elevated; no inscription appears except
H.H.S.S for single sister; or M.H.M.S married sister “departed”; or on
the brothers’ side, W.G.M.B or S.B – married or single brother “departed”.
No distinction is made between rich or poor, minister or brother.
owe thanks to EW who sent me from England without cost or comment a photo
copy of several pages from a book which contained a photo of the Moravian
establishment at East Tytherton. It shows an angled view of the joined
brick buildings comprising the chapel with manse and school on either side
and a separate house for "single sisters". Accompanying text states that
it is a short stroll from the site of Stanley Abbey.
of the most important influences on the young John Wesley was his contact
in 1735, on a voyage to America, with members of the Moravian Church, a
movement which had begun as a kind of medieval Methodism in Bohemia during
the fifteenth century. They lived communally and their quiet spirituality
and dogged evangelism had a profound effect on the pioneers of the Methodist
revival. One of these, John Cennick, who had broken with Wesley on theological
matters by 1740, began to preach in north-west Wiltshire with great success,
but in 1741 moved on to Swindon, where a mob almost lynched him. Undeterred
he established a community along Moravian lines at East Tytherton, near
Chippenham, in 1742, and when he left Wiltshire three years later entrusted
it to the Moravian church."
This is a small village
on the southern side and close to the M4 motorway, north of Chippenham.
Near the entrance to the parish church
is the grave headstone of Elizabeth
Vines, wife of Peter1724, who was buried here in 1762. Internally the church
is noted for its carved "green man" and sculpture ornaments.
St Giles Church, Tockenham
See also the page on St Martins
Church of Bremhill which is also
important to Vines