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Gallery: Churches of Warwickshire
by Peter Kessler, 18 April 2010
South Warwickshire Part 39: Churches of
Wellesbourne & Charlecote
St Peter, Wellesbourne, is on the western corner
of Hoppers Lane and Church Street. The village was first recorded in 862
as Wallesburam, and was later referred to as Walesborne in Domesday Book.
In May 1140 it was hit by a tornado - one of the earliest recorded in the
British Isles. It damaged several buildings and killed a woman. Once two
villages, Wellesbourne Mountford and Wellesbourne Hastings, divided by the
River Dene, they were merged together in 1947.
The church consists of a chancel with a north organ
chamber and a vestry, a south chapel, nave, north and south aisles, south
porch, and a west tower. The building dates from the twelfth century, but
the original plan has been lost under later additions. All that survives
from this period is the former chancel arch, which has been reset on the
north side of the chancel. A south aisle was added to the nave in the
thirteenth century and the tower built late in the fourteenth century.
The church was almost wholly rebuilt and enlarged in
1847, the only older parts surviving being the south arcade and the tower,
while the nave was extended by one bay. Remaining in the floor of the new
chancel was a stone slab with a brass effigy of Sir Thomas Strange, died
1426, shown in armour. After this point, perhaps the most significant event
in Wellesbourne's history was the founding in 1872 of the first trade union
for agricultural workers by Joseph Arch.
St Leonard, Charlecote, sits at the southern
end of the village, on the western side of the main road, overlooking
the River Avon. Charlecote Church sits close to the entrance of the
estate of Charlecote Park, now a National Trust property. The church
is a mid-Victorian gem which was conceived by and paid for by the Lucy
family who are all grandly entombed and depicted in the family chapel,
mainly in alabaster. The furniture within the church is all Victorian.
Mary Lucy, a woman before her time, was the force
behind the rebuilding of the church which contains excellent examples
of church craftsmanship. The work was completed between 1851-1853 to
a John Gibson design. Only some of the interior fittings survive from
the earlier, probably Norman, church. The new church consists of a
chancel, north chapel, north organ chamber, nave, and a tower to the
south of the chancel, with ashlar walls.There are two bells dated to 1697.
All photos on this page contributed by Aidan