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Gallery: Churches of Warwickshire
by Peter Kessler, 12 March 2011
North Warwickshire Part 1: Churches of
Ansley, Great Packington & Curdworth
St Laurence Church, Church End Ansley, is
southern side of the Nuneaton Road in the middle of Church End, to
the north of Ansley itself. The region forms part of the former
North Warwickshire Coalfield and is thick with closed pits. The
parish originally formed part of the estate of Godiva
of Coventry, wife of Leofric, earl of Mercia. The earliest part of
the church has been estimated by archaeologists to date to around
1050, founded during the lifetime of Lady Godiva.
It is thought that this and other of Lady
were dedicated to St Laurence because her
trusted friend, Abbot Laurence, commissioned them to be
A large part of the nave's south wall and part of the chancel
are twelfth century. The doorway arches at the south entrance and on
the north wall outside are Norman. The tower and the clerestory are
from the fifteenth century, while the chancel arch is also
Norman. The north aisle was added in 1913.
The Chapel of St James, Great Packington,
stands within the grounds of Packington Park, immediately north of the Great
Pool, and west of Packington Lane. The parish lies to the east of the River Blythe,
with about a third of its area being occupied by the park with its fine oak woods, three
'Pools', or lakes, and a herd of deer.
There is no village, and the church stands by itself in the park, midway between the Old Hall and Packington Hall, the seat of
the earl of Aylesford.
There was apparently an older church here which
was given with the manor to the Priory of Kenilworth, and was
appropriated to the priory between 1278-1544. The present church was built in 1789 from designs
by Joseph Bonomi, based on a church near Rome. The plan is symmetrical, with a square nave
that has recessed quasi-aisles
between four square corner chambers. The east recess is the
sanctuary. There is one bell from 1808 and a sanctus bell dated
St Nicholas & St Peter ad Vincula, Curdworth,
the northern side of Church Lane, on the western side of the
village. Curdworth was the first recorded Anglo-Saxon settlement in the English Midlands, by
a king of the Iclingas (early Mercia), Creoda, in AD 583. The name 'Curdworth' or
means 'Creoda's Clearing' and is thought to be the exact centre of
England. The first church here was almost certainly a Saxon one,
possibly of the eighth century.
The present Norman church was erected in 1165, when the Augustinian Canons of the Abbey of St
Mary de Pratis were granted the right to present a priest to the
parish. The church was extended in the fifteenth century, with a new
chancel being added. The earliest doorways were blocked up but can
still be seen. The tower was added in 1460 with three bells, but the
intended spire was never added. Curdworth Wesleyan Chapel
existed in 1947, but could not be found in 2010.
All photos on this page contributed by Aidan