St Mary & St Benedict Catholic Church,
Wootton Wawen, is on the western side of the Alcester Road, immediately
south of the railway bridge. The church was built in 1904 to replace a
chapel next to the manor house which was maintained by the staunchly
Catholic lord and his family following the Reformation. Additional
buildings lie behind and to the south of the church. Inside, the
former altarpiece is from the old chapel and the glass above the
west gallery dates from 1813.
Wootton Wawen Catholic Cemetery Chapel is on the
Stratford Road, lying to the east of St Peter's. Barely a quarter of
the size of St Peter's churchyard, it contains the small chapel
building which was probably put up around the same time as the
Catholic church itself, at the start of the twentieth century. As
well as the church and cemetery, there is also a Catholic school in
the village. An annual All Souls Mass takes place every winter at
the chapel, a tradition for all the locals.
St Nicholas Beaudesert, Henley-in-Arden,
was the parish church of Beaudesert, or 'Beldesert', a derivation
of the Norman French for 'beautiful waste'. It lies about 700
metres east of the High Street, on the northern side of Beaudesert
Lane at the foot of the hill known as the Mount. The church's foundation
is placed about 1170 and was probably built by Thurstan de Montfort,
lord of the manor, who also built the Norman castle on the Mount,
no trace of which now remains.
The church probably replaced an earlier Saxon
building. At the end of the 1500s, it was narrowed by moving the north
wall (on the left) about two metres (six feet) further in. The chancel
lost its vaulting, the nave was reduced in height and the present oak
timbered roof added. The original Norman roof would have been a high
pitched one. The two benefices of Henley-in-Arden and Beaudesert were
combined in 1915 and services are now held regularly in both churches.
St John the Baptist, Henley-in-Arden, is on
the High Street, at the north-eastern corner with Beaudesert Lane in this
small market town. In 1140 Thurstan de Montfort was granted a charter by
Empress Matilda, daughter of Henry I, to hold a weekly fair and market in
his castle. As a result the people of Beaudesert prospered and the town
of Henley began growing alongside it. Town and castle were destroyed
following the Baron's Revolt of 1265, but Henley recovered.
In 1367 the townsfolk were allowed to build a chapel
at ease so that they could avoid the dangerous journey to Wootton Wawen.
This was replaced entirely about 1448 by the present Perpendicular church.
It seems that the influence of Puritanism remained at Henley until as late
as the early part of the 1800s as a communion table stood in the middle
of the chancel to enable communicants to partake, sitting round it in
accordance with an order made in Parliament in 1644.
All photos on this page contributed by Aidan