It’s easy to miss the narrow opening in the farmyard wall that leads to All Saints. Once you’ve squeezed through, a rough concrete path winds along the hedgerow. The church sits in a tightly enclosed churchyard in the middle of a wide, open field. This bucolic setting, in which sheep and cattle graze, is an important archaeological site from the Early-Late Medieval period.
All Saints is first recorded in 1205, as a chapel-of-ease to the mother church at Bradbourne. However, as the village of Ballidon is mentioned in both the Domesday book and a charter of King Edgar in 963, it’s likely that a church existed here before 1205.
Throughout its lifetime, the church has been altered, rebuilt and restored, creating an intriguing patchwork of speckled stone. The infilled doorway on the north elevation and infilled west window is evidence of the Norman building, while the rebuilding campaign in the 14th century is seen in tracery of the nave and chancel windows.
The unusual font may also date from this time. Octagonal in form, it is roughly carved with tracery, figures, fish, a bridled horse and several abstract motifs. Some of the carvings are clearly late medieval, while others appear to be Romanesque. Most peculiar, however, is that several of carvings appear to be upside-down! This has led to much speculation as to whether the font was fashioned from the base of a Saxon cross or perhaps the work of an apprentice…
Half-way up in to the west wall, there are the remains of a square fire-place. This clearly served a first-floor room, but all other traces of this have been lost. The church was restored in 1822 and all but rebuilt in 1882. The latter has left us with a Neo-Norman arch which leads up four steps to the chancel, where the east window by Kempe depicts the Resurrection.
The Commandment Boards and the Lord’s Prayer are, unusually, made from tiles. There are also some attractive, early 20th-century tiles depicting biblical scenes in the nave and chancel. The simple oak reredos has a hidden door which, when opened, reveals a miniature Romanesque arch with brightly painted zig-zag enclosing a simple cross.