STATUE of ELIJAH by William Joshua GILES

A statue of Elijah shielding his eyes carved by William Joshua Giles of Wellington (1861-1908) is at the base of the tower of All Saints, Nynehead.

William Joshua Giles Elijah


William Joshua Giles was born in Courtland Road and learned his trade as sculptor in wood, stone and clay. He was the younger son of John Giles, an overlooker in the blanket-weaving shed at Messrs. Fox's factory at Tonedale. His premises were at 76 North Street. Before this he had been a pupil of the well-known Harry Hems of Exeter. William particularly liked using the clay from Poole brickyard for his models. He carved the pulpits at Sampford Arundel, Rockwell Green and West Buckland Churches as well as the lectern and credence table at Langford Budville church. His premature death at the age of 46 years was caused by a fall.


In the 19th century the access to the bell ringing chamber was changed from the narrow entrance behind Elijah to the outside of the tower, where a flight of brick steps was constructed on the South side of the tower and a doorway constructed. A number of the stone steps were removed and the entrance to the bells from inside of the church was blocked by a wall. This allowed the Elijah statue to be placed in the entrance - see image below.

A century or more later it was realized by the present church wardens that there was a massive problem of dampness in area of the old tower access, both in the tower itself and at the west end of the South Aisle. This dampness appeared to be caused by the external brick steps, which had no damp course. In the year 2005 the brick steps were removed, Elijah's statue was moved to the church floor at the base of the tower and the old entrance door and steps to the ringing chamber replaced. After a heavy storm it was found that a pool of water had formed in the entrance to the tower on the new steps. The damp had been caused for many years by rain running off the stone roof of the tower steps. When a rain gutter was introduced, the puddles stopped and we hope the damp. The image at upper right shows Elijah in his new surroundings. A great improvement.