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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Warwickshire

by Peter Kessler, 18 April 2010

South Warwickshire Part 35: Churches of Alderminster & Whitchurch

St Mary & Holy Cross

St Mary & Holy Cross, Alderminster, is situated on the southern side of Shipston Road, opposite the entrance to New Road. Alderminster, which is eight kilometres (five miles) from Stratford-upon-Avon, was a detached portion of Worcestershire until 1931, when it was transferred to Warwickshire. Sometimes called Aldermarston, the village has now been cut in half by the busy Stratford to Oxford Road, but its church is up to nine hundred years old.

St Mary & Holy Cross

The earliest building on the site appears to have been erected early in the twelfth century, and portions of its walls, with fragments of two small windows, survive in the nave of the present church. Towards the close of the century an eastward enlargement was begun by the demolition of the original chancel and the erection on its site of the four arches of the central tower with the north transept. Early in the thirteenth century the south transept was added.

St Mary & Holy Cross

A little later the chancel was rebuilt and the upper stages of the short tower completed. About the middle of the fourteenth century new windows were inserted at the south-east end of the chancel and at the eastern end of the nave's north wall. In 1873 and 1884 the church was brutally restored and, as the eastern portion of the south wall had collapsed, the nave was also rebuilt. The walling throughout is of sandstone rubble with wrought quoins and dressings.

St Mary

St Mary, Whitchurch, stands in the fields close to the Stour, with no village nearby. Sir Edward Belknap is probably to blame for this, when he inclosed a good deal of the local land and depopulated it during the reign of Henry VII. His successor Anthony Cotes put the manor house and another hundred acres of arable out of use. The main area of settlement now is in the hamlet of Wimpstone, over three quarters of a kilometre (half a mile) west of the church.

St Mary

The nave of this small aisless church was built in 1020. This now survives as the west half of the present nave, and is about a metre wider than the east half. The chancel was added early in the twelfth century. Towards the end of that century, a new chancel was added, and the old one converted into part of the nave (the narrower, east section). The chancel was extended further in the thirteenth century, and remodelled at the end of the fifteenth.

St Mary

The nave was shortened in the seventeenth century, and a new west wall built, although the foundations for the old wall ten metres further west still exist, as does part of the old medieval floor. More restoration has been necessary since then, mostly due to the weakness of the foundations, and over a thousand pounds sterling was spent on the 1890 work. The bell cote contains three bells dated to 1552. Owing to the location there are no services during the winter.

All photos on this page kindly contributed by Aidan McRae Thomson.



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