HISTORY OF ST GILES
Tockenham appears in two ancient Royal Charters. The first is that of the Anglo Saxon King Ini, the second is that of King Aethelwulf of Wessex (AD. 836).
The present church dates from the latter part of the 13th or the beginning of the 14th century. It is said to have been built and partly endowed by Hugh le Despenser. The list of Rectors goes back to 1313 when John Duraunt was appointed to serve.
The church was restored in 1876 when the bell cotes seems to have rebuilt and the east window inserted, as it was necessary to rebuild part of the south wall of the chancel. There was a further restoration in 1907 when the nave roof was repaired and the Church re-floored and re-seated.
The Font dates from the 12th century, whilst the cover is 17th Century. The pulpit and pews have been made from 18th century panelling.
The wooden frame of a Rood loft doorway can be seen on the north side of the chancel. Access appears to have been by a straight flight of steps , for the raking motice which held the handrail still remains.
The bell cote at the west end of the Church contains a single bell said to date from 1480.
Outside the porch is a figure of Moses. To the west of the porch, embedded in the wall, is the figure of Aesculapius. He is a Roman god, and this may be the oldest possession that any church in ancient Wiltshire has.
He appears in Homer as “the blameless physician” of human origin, who was afterwards worshipped over the whole of Greece and even iin Rome, as the god of the Healing Art.
The sculpture represents him holding a staff in the right hand with a snake coiled round it. He is supposed to have had power, not only to cure sickness but to bring back the dead to life.
By what chance this curious pagan “waif” found its way here and came to rest in the wall of a Wiltshire church is unknown.
Some recent archives have turned up a hymn tune known as TOCKENHAM which was composed by Rev W H Hewlett Cooper who resided in Tockenham from 1890 - 1926 ish https://history.wiltshire.gov.uk/community/getschool.php?id=1422