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Gallery: Churches of Warwickshire
by Peter Kessler, 18 April 2010
South Warwickshire Part 35: Churches of
Alderminster & Whitchurch
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.
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.
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, 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 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.
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