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Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Warwickshire

by Peter Kessler, 12 March 2011

 

 

North Warwickshire Part 1: Churches of Ansley, Great Packington & Curdworth

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St Laurence Church, Church End Ansley, is on the 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.

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It is thought that this and other of Lady Godiva's churches were dedicated to St Laurence because her trusted friend, Abbot Laurence, commissioned them to be built. 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.

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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.

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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 about 1480.

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St Nicholas & St Peter ad Vincula, Curdworth, lies on 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 'Credeworde' 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.

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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 McRae Thomson.

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