All Saints, Preston Bagot, is surrounded by
open fields, off Preston Fields Lane, just north of the Warwick Road.
The church has one of the most stunning outlooks of any church in the
rural Midlands. Built in the mid-twelfth century for its 'parish of the
priests' (Preston) which extended as far as what is now Henley-in-Arden,
it quickly deteriorated when it was left with just a hamlet after Thurstan
de Montfort's castle church of St Nicholas at Beaudesert claimed most of
The church was saved in 1878 by the architect J A
Chatwin who not so much restored a dilapidated chapel as created a small
'mediaeval' church around the existing nave and the chancel, which was
probably an early thirteenth century addition. The latter was probably
divided entirely from the nave until Chatwin added a chancel arch. He
heightened and lengthened the rest of the building and added a Romanesque
chancel arch. The bell-cote is probably fifteenth century.
St Peter, Wootton Wawen, is on the northern
side of the Stratford Road, close to the junction with the Alcester Road.
The church is the oldest in Warwickshire, with a Saxon tower and crossing
dating back to around 900, when the Forest of Arden was much thicker than
it is today. The region was settled by the Saxon Stoppingas, probably in
the late sixth century, when the kingdom of the Hwicce was formed in
Anglo-Briton Gloucestershire and parts of Warwickshire.
Wootton Wawen's name originates from its tenth
century Saxon lord, Wagen ('Wawen'). A Saxon monastery was built
here (no trace remains), but earthworks mark the site of a later
Norman Priory which was closed by Henry VI in 1443. In spite of the
growth of nearby Henley, St Peter's was still the most important church
around. At the churchyard cross Friars urged people to join the Crusades,
but the Prior and most of the village were wiped out by the Black Death
Much of the lower part of the tower dates to the
eleventh century (pre-Norman Conquest) and is built of very rough
small rubble with a few larger unsquared stones. The lowest stage
now serves as the chancel. The nave was rebuilt and probably
enlarged in the twelfth century. The present chancel walls may be of
mid to late thirteenth century, but there may have been wholesale
rebuilding work carried out in the fourteenth century. More
restoration was done in 1881.
All photos on this page contributed by Aidan