Hidden Churches of Warwickshire
Photos with brief descriptions. More detailed information available on request.
St. Peter's, Wolfhampcote
St. Peter's is probably the most isolated church in the County of Warwickshire, with only Wolfhampcote Hall and two other dwellings nearby. The original village of Wolfhampcote was in the fields close by but disappeared as the result of enclosure in 1501. The civil and ecclesiastical parish of Wolfhampcote covers a large geographical area, serving the hamlets of Flecknoe, Nethercote and Sawbridge as well as numerous isolated farms. The Northamptonshire village of Braunston lies 3/4 mile away.
St. Peter's, Wolfhampcote
The main structure of the church dates from the 14th century, with the tower having been added in the 15th century. It is a large church which reflects construction of different ages. The interior walls are plain and there is no stained glass. There are memorials to the local Tibbits family and the Clerke family of Barton Seagrave. The small dilapidated churchyard provides a feeling of peace and isolation enhanced by the embankment of the abandoned Leamington to Weedon railway close by.
St. Peter's, Wolfhampcote
A mission church was erected at Flecknoe in 1891 which must have given some relief to the parishioners of St. Peter's who were spared a long journey. The road from Flecknoe is gated but provides the main route to St. Peter's, the unadopted road from Braunston being something of a test. A decline in the congregation of St. Peter's led to closure in 1950 and it is now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. Occasional concerts are performed here by Fiori Musicali.
All Saints, Harborough Magna
Serving both Harborough Magna and Easenhall, this church appears large from the outside but small on the inside. In fact, with a short nave and north and south aisles, the width of the church seems greater than the length. Dr. J B Lightfoot was a curate here in 1853 but eventually rose to prominence when achieving the appointment of Bishop of Durham in 1879. Other posts that he held in the interim included Canon of St. Paul's Cathedral and Honorary Chaplain in Ordinary to Queen Victoria.
All Saints, Withybrook
A pleasant brook-side walk and a small bridge lead to the churchyard. The church mainly dates from the 14th c. replacing an earlier building which was a chapelry of Monks Kirby. The tower dates from the 15th c. and restoration of the whole church was completed in the 19th c. The lofty south porch is thought to have once contained a parvise, a room for the use of the priest.
St. Giles, Nether Whitacre
The church is a mixture of ages with the nave and chancel thought to date from the 14th c. the tower, with its grotesque heads, from the 16th c. and some rebuilding in the 19th c. The north vestry was originally the north chapel and was dedicated to Charles Jennens of Gopsall Hall in Leicestershire, who was a benefactor to the church. Jennens was a patron, friend and collaborator of George Frideric Handel, the renowned composer. Jennens is buried here in the family vault.
St. Peter's, Whatcote
This small church, of solid appearance, has been subject to considerable rebuilding and restoration over the centuries. Parts of the building date from the 12th century. Major repair work was carried out in 1767 and 1840. The church suffered damage in World War II. A German bomber, returning from a raid on Birmingham on the 12th of December 1940, dropped some unused bombs in the area, one of which hit the church. Work took place in 1947 to repair the damage to the nave, tower and porch.
St. John Baptist, Honiley
St. John Baptist Church is the Parish Church for Honiley and Wroxall. It is approached along a short driveway, close to the entrance to Honiley Hall. The driveway terminates in front of the impressive churchyard gates, flanked by the North and South Lodges of the now demolished Honiley House. John Sanders of Honiley House built the church, at his own expense, in 1723, as recorded in an inscription over the west door. Tradition has it that the church was designed by Sir Christopher Wren.
St. Laurence, Shotteswell
The parish of Shotteswell occupies a peninsula of Warwickshire surrounded by Oxfordshire. The church is linked with those at Warmington, Ratley and Radway. A church has stood here for many centuries. There has been much rebuilding and restoration over the years. It is believed that the present vestry formed the basis of the original church. Numerous extensions have formed the church as seen today.
St. Nicholas, Loxley
The sign at the entrance to the churchyard proclaims that the church is one of the oldest in England, with Saxon and Norman features. It also states that 30 generations have worshipped here since circa 760 A.D. A church has been on this site since that time. The tower is thought to have been erected in the 12th century, though the upper tier clearly belongs to a later date than the lower portion. The remainder of the church results from major restoration work that was carried out in 1740.
Wibtoft, St. Mary's Chapel
This unpretentious little chapel occupies a small plot of land overlooking the A5 trunk road (Watling Street). Its full title is The Chapel of the Assumption of Our Lady The Blessed Virgin Mary. The chapel is linked with St. Peter's at Claybrooke and St. Nicholas at Frolesworth, both in Leicestershire.
St. Mary's was rebuilt, with red brick, in the 18th and 19th centuries. A short distance away is High Cross, the point where the two great Roman roads, Watling Street and Fosse Way, meet.
St. Michael, Whichford & Ascott
The approach, through the churchyard, is along a path lined with headstones, leading to the south porch, with views of the impressive clock and sundial. The 14th century south chapel is known as the De Mohun Chapel; named after the family that is credited with the construction of the church. It is believed that John De Mohun is buried here. He was Lord of the Manor and died around 1323.
St. Edmund's, Thurlaston
This wonderful little church is hidden away in the picturesque village of Thurlaston, overlooking Draycote Water. It was originally conceived as a school with church services on a Sunday. The tower originally provided accommodation for the schoolmaster but is now a private residential property. In 1905 the building was licensed for public worship as a Chapel of Ease and in 1925 became a church dedicated to St. Edmund, one time King of East Anglia.
St. John, Copston Magna
This beautiful little church, with its well tended churchyard in a sylvan setting, forms part of the benefice of Wolvey but at one time was a chapel within the parish of Monks Kirby. The present building dates from 1849 when it replaced a previous church on the site.
St. Lawrence, Barton on the Heath
Located at the high point of the village, this is a fine, old, stone church featuring a saddleback tower. The interior contains several memorials and an interesting old font. The highlight, however, is a truly magnificent stained glass window, installed in the north wall of the nave in 1995. This modern version of an ancient craft is a tremendous attraction. Dr. James Wilmot was appointed Rector here in 1782. He was a man with a controversial history involving royal marriages.
St. Lawrence, Barton on the Heath
Dr. Wilmot was believed to have officiated at the clandestine marriage of George III to Hannah Lightfoot at Kew Chapel in London in 1759. This was two years before the King's official marriage to Princess Charlotte Sophia in 1761. Dr. Wilmot was ostensibly a bachelor. It was claimed, after his death, that he had been married to a member of the Royal Household of Poland and had a daughter, Olive. She is alleged to have married the Duke of Cumberland, in a private ceremony performed in 1767.
St. Mary the Virgin, Whitchurch
The church is all that remains of the old mediaeval village of Whitchurch. It serves the hamlets of Crimscote and Wimpstone which are in the civil parish of Whitchurch. Its only neighbour is a tithe barn now converted to a modern dwelling. The settlement at Whitchurch was depopulated by Edward Belknap, after he became Lord of the Manor in 1490. He was also responsible for the depopulation of the village of Burton Dassett, another South Warwickshire village.
St. Theobald & St. Chad, Caldecote
This delightful church, one of Warwickshire's treasures, is approached, on foot, along a drive lined with mature trees and some interesting dwellings. The nave and chancel date from the 13th century, with major rebuilding and restoration work having been executed in 1873. The history of the village of Caldecote and its church is linked with nearby Caldecote Hall. In 1642, in the English Civil War, Caldecote Hall was besieged by Prince Rupert and Prince Maurice, hoping to capture Colonel Purefey.
St. Theobald & St. Chad, Caldecote
Colonel Purefey was a noted Parliamentarian, whose family owned Caldecote Manor. He was away from at the time but it was defended by his wife, son-in-law, maids and servants. The defence held out until running out of ammunition but Prince Rupert spared their lives, having been surprised by the small number of defenders and their bravery. The church itself is full of memorials, carvings and stained glass, particularly dedicated to the Purefey family.
St. James, Old Milverton
St. James Church is the result of a rebuilding in 1880, using the foundations of an earlier church. Finance for the work was provided by Lady Charles Bertie Percy of Guy's Cliffe. A footpath from the church leads to a footbridge across the river, and gives good views of the Guys Cliffe House. The church contains a stained glass window in memory of Dr. Henry Jephson, the renowned Leamington physician, who lies buried in the churchyard.
St. Mary, Astley
A church with a fascinating history, adjoining the restored Astley Castle. The castle, which was really a fortified house, was badly damaged in a fire of 1978. Astley Castle was associated with the Grey family of Bradgate Park in Leicestershire. Lady Jane Grey was Queen of England for 9 days in 1553. The castle has been restored to serve as a holiday home and the land is owned by the Newdigate family of nearby Arbury Hall.
St. Mary, Astley
The nave of St Mary's was in fact the quire of the original Collegiate Church, established here in 1343, which must have been a truly impressive building. It suffered in the dissolutions of Henry VIII. The church has monuments to both the Grey and Newdigate families. It is believed to have provided the inspiration for Knebley Church in George Eliot's novel, Mr Gilfil's Love Story.
St. Giles, Chesterton
A church standing in great isolation after the local population moved to nearby Chesterton Green following a plague outbreak in the vicinity. The church contains some magnificent memorials to the Peyto family, once Lords of the Manor.
Holy Trinity, Norton Lindsey
The present church is a rebuilding completed in 1875. It has a nave, chancel, north aisle, south porch and a fine bell-gable. The north vestry is from 1880. The interior of the church is dark but there is stained glass in all the windows. In the churchyard is the grave of Rev'd Theodore Shurt, a curate in the mid-19th century. He wrote a poem called Lindsey which recorded the village and its inhabitants at the time. It celebrated a rural idyll, undisturbed by dank canal or railway whistle.
St. Nicholas, Willoughby
Located at the edge of the village, the main fabric of the church dates from the late 15th century. The chancel was restored in 1995. The north aisle serves as a chapel and contains a number of memorials. A modern lych gate of 1977 commemorates the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
St. Mary the Virgin, Wolverton
A classic example of a rural church serving a small community. The nave is though to date from 1208 with the chancel being from around the early 14th century. The bell turret replaced an earlier metal strucuture in the mid-19th century. The nave has a fine barrel-vaulted ceiling but the interior is narrow and the small windows provide little light. There are memorials to the Stanton family, one time Lords of the Manor.
St. Nicholas, Frankton
This solid village church occupies a quiet location. Parts of the structure date from the 13th century. Major restoration work took place in the 1870s under the guidance of Sir George Gilbert Scott. The church contains many memorials to the local Biddulph family of nearby Frankton Manor. The church contains a plan of the churchyard with a list of monuments and their location.
St. James, Weddington
The Church dates from the 14th century but underwent considerable rebuilding in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Church is linked with that at Caldecote.
This magnificent church with its soaring spire stands in a well-tended churchyard on the edge of the village. It dates from the 14th century with restoration and alterations in the mid-19th century.
SS Peter & Paul Winderton
Built to serve the small settlement of Winderton in 1878, the church served its purpose for less than 100 years, having been declared redundant in 1974. It was commissioned by Canon Thoyts as a memorial to his parents. The land was provided by the Marquess of Northampton and gives excellent views over the surrounding countryside. It is an attractive building, constructed of golden brown stone from local quarries. The interior of the church was noted for its bands of red and white stonework.
St. Mark, Flecknoe
Dating from 1891 this church was originally constructed as a mission church, serving the local population and avoiding the necessity of travelling to the old established, but isolated, parish chuch of St. Peter at Wolfhampcote nearly 2 miles away.
St. James, Great Packington
The Chapel stands four square and prominent, set amongst the parkland of Packington Hall. Originally the Parish Church of Great Packington, it is now a private chapel. To the west of the chapel is the present day Packington Hall, seat of the Earls of Aylesford. The Chapel dates from the late 18th century to a design of the Fourth Earl of Aylesford in conjunction with Italian architect Joseph Bonomi. The north aisle houses an organ, reputedly designed by Handel for his patron, Charles Jennens.
St. John The Baptist, Cherington
This impressive looking church stands in a large, partly walled churchyard, in the village of Cherington. There are open views to the north, across the small valley of the River Stour. The main feature of the church is the tomb of an unknown man, thought to be from the 14th century. It has an effigy of a franklin, a large landowner. In more recent times the church provided the setting for the recording of the funeral of Doris Archer in the long-running radio programme "The Archers".
St. Leonards, Charlecote
The present church dates from 1850, replacing a small 12th century church on the site. It was the result of the ideas of Mary Lucy of Charlecote Park who also financed the construction. She was the widow of George Lucy who died in 1845 and she spent much of her widowhood in good works in the area. The architect employed to bring Mary's ideas to fruition was John Gibson of Westminster.
The church is inevitably linked to the Lucy family of Charlecote Park, being on the edge of the estate.
St. John The Baptist, Wolvey
Splendidly sited on a small mound this impressive looking church dates from the 12th and 13th centuries with subsequent renovations and extensions over the years. The church has many links with the de Wolvey and de Astley families. The south aisle was restored by Alice de Astley in the 14th century in memory of her husband Giles who was killed at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314.
St. Bartholomew, Little Packington
Standing, forlorn and deserted, in a small plot on the Packington Estate of Lord Aylesford, St. Bartholomew's was a sad example of a place of worship suffering from a diminishing congregation. Set amongst farmland, with few dwellings nearby, the church drew from a parish with a small population dispersed throughout a rural area. The parish was once known as Packington Piggott. St. Bartholomew's closed in 1966 and was subsequently declared redundant. It has now been converted to a private home.
Wolvey Baptist Chapel
The original structure of this large chapel dates from 1789 but it has been subject to improvements and alterations since then. A school room was added in 1818. The chapel was enlarged in 1834 and the school room extended in 1856. A ground level extension of 1910 covered several grave stones which had been levelled in 1902.
Easenhall Methodist Chapel
This charming little chapel in the picturesque village of Easenhall has been converted to a community facility.
Fillongley Methodist Church
This somewhat unique and very attractive little church served the Methodist congregation of Fillongley and surrounding villages for many years. In the 1990s this church was sold and converted to residential accommodation. The Methodists now share the facilities at the local C of E church in Fillongley.
This interesting building in Nuneaton town centre dates from the early 20th century in a style which appears to combine elements of Baroque and what might be described as Edwardian Gothic
St. Edith, Monks Kirby
This imposing church is most often seen in a fleeting glance, from a distance, by travellers on the road between Pailton and Brinklow. The presence of such a large building in a small village is explained by the fact that it was the church of the priory, established here in the 11th century, from which the village gets its name. The ecclesiastical parish covers a large area. It includes the villages of Stretton under Fosse and Pailton (with its own church since 1884).
St. Mary the Virgin, Haseley
Now part of the combined benefice known as the North Fencumbe Parishes, this attractive little church stands some distance from the main population centre of the civil parish of Haseley. Across the fields is Haseley Manor, now a business centre. The chancel has a colourful east window and the tomb of Clement Throckmorton, who died in 1573, and his wife, Katherine Neville. He was Lord of the Manor and the Member of Parliament for Warwick and Warwickshire.
Church of Our Lady, Merevale
This unusual church is often mistaken for a private chapel. It stands at the edge of the grounds of Merevale Hall, partly hidden by the gate-house. Close by are the few remaining walls which indicate the site of Merevale Abbey, which was founded in 1148 by Robert, Earl Ferrers, for the Cistercian Order. The nave of the present church originally served as the gate-chapel to the Abbey, being for the use of employees and visitors to the Abbey. It was known as The Chapel of St. Mary at the Gate.
St. Martin's Barcheston
St. Martin's occupies a quiet, secluded spot. The churchyard is entered through a lych-gate erected in 1911. The church dates from the 13th century with later additions. Major restoration work took place in the middle of the 19th century. The tower is leaning, as a result of having no regular foundations. The unusual shape of the 14th century porch is a result of alterations to allow for construction of the Willington Chapel (south chapel) in the early 16th century.
St. Peter's Radway
This unpretentious rural church was built in 1866, using materials from the old church, which was located elsewhere in the village. The village of Radway is celebrated for its proximity to the site of the Battle of Edge Hill (1642) and for its links with the Miller family of Radway Grange. Sanderson Miller purchased the Grange in 1715 and it remained in the possession of the family until 1918. A Roll of Honour for WWI in the churchyard includes the name of Field Marshal Earl Haig.
St. Michael's, Baddesley Clinton
St. Michael's occupies a peaceful, wooded location, a short distance away from the celebrated moated house of Baddesley Clinton and was once dedicated to St. James. As you step through the south door, into the nave, you are walking on the grave of Nicholas Brome, a hot-headed man, philanderer and a double murderer. He atoned partially for his offences by improving the church.
URC Chapel End
This interesting chapel looks somewhat misplaced, amongst the cottages and shops which line the main road from Nuneaton to Coleshill. It was not always so. When the chapel was first established it was one of the first buildings hereabouts. Construction started in 1807, on a plot purchased following the enclosure of common land. The chapel was extended and improved before being rebuilt in 1840. The chapel gave the name to the newly enclosed area - Chapel End.
St. Mary's, Atherstone
Overlooking the Market Square, this substantial church has parts, including the octagonal tower, dating from the 14th century. The bulk of the church results from a rebuilding of the mid-19th century.
Our Lady of the Assumption, Ashow
The first view of the church shows that it occupies one of the most picturesque settings of any church in Warwickshire, being on the banks of the River Avon. It is thought that the church originally served both Ashow and the hamlet of Bericote. Bericote was located on the south side of the river but was abandoned by 1540, as a result of enclosure. Parts of the north wall and the chancel date from around 1100. The tower is a construction of the late 15th to early 16th century.
St. George the Martyr, Newbold Pacey
Also covering the village of Ashorne, the church stands on a small plot at the edge of the hamlet of Newbold Pacey. The current church, of simple design, complemented by a saddleback tower, dates from the 19th century.
St. Michael's, Maxstoke
St. Michael's owes its unusual appearance to the later addition of a bell tower within the walls. Maxstoke Priory occupied the adjoining site until dissolved in 1538 and significant parts of the buildings are still standing. Maxstoke Castle is in the north of the parish and the Priory and the church in the south. The parish is divided between the Castle Lordship and the Priory Lordship and it was once the custom for the tenants of the respective Lordships to sit on different sides of the nave.
Monks Kirby Catholic Cemetery001
This cemetery occupies land owned by the Earls of Denbigh, forming part of the estate of Newnham Paddox. It was provided as a result of the conversion to Roman Catholicism of the eighth Earl of Denbigh, Rudolph William Basil Feilding, in the 19th century. The chapel dates from 1888 and consists of a nave, apsidal sanctuary, north vestry and a turret, topped by an elegant spire.
St. Peter's, Hampton Lucy
The village was granted to the Lucy family of Charlecote Park in the 16th century. An old church stood on this site until 1822, when a new church was built. This was subject to restoration, alterations and rebuilding carried out in the mid-19th century to the design of one of the most eminent architects of the Victorian era - Sir George Gilbert Scott.
Willoughby Wesleyan Chapel
This small chapel served the Wesleyan Methodists of the village for many years before being sold for residential conversion in the early 21st century.
St.Peter Ad Vincula, Ratley
The church dates from the 13th century but has been subject to much restoration and rebuilding since then. The tower dates from the 14th century. The church stands in a hilly area such that, standing on the nearby road, the viewer can be almost at the same level as the top of the tower.
St. Nicholas, Beaudesert
Situated in a pleasant location next to Henley in Arden this church served the now deserted village of Beaudesert. The church dates from the 14th century with the tower built in the 15th century.
St. Leonard's, Birdingbury
This wonderful little church stands on sloping ground above the banks of the River Leam. Built in 1775, in a classical style, to replace an earlier mediaeval church, it was altered and enlrged in 1876. The apse has a highly decorated vaulted ceiling. The church contains an album of archive material, relating to the church and the village, covering the period 1301 to 1914.
This splendid little church has no known dedication. It is located at the western edge of the parish, well away from the main population centre of the village of Baxterley which was close to the old pit. A magnificent lych gate of 1890 gives access to the churchyard and a tree-lined path leading to the north porch. The small churchyard contains memorials of the Glover family of Baxterley Hall, dating from the 17th century. Robert Glover, the martyr, was a member of this family.
St. John the Baptist, Lea Marston
Serving Marston and Lea Marston, the church is half a mile away, overlooking what was once the Hams Hall estate, home to the Adderley family. Charles Bowyer Adderley MP, the first Baron Norton, helped to found the constitution of New Zealand and the Dominion of Canada. The church is constructed of red sandstone, creating an attractive pink hue. Memorials to the Adderley family abound. A brass plaque commemorates the Rev'd. Thomas Bray, of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.