St. Michael’s Church, West Felton, Shropshire, England

City West Felton
County Shropshire
Country England

Media

Narrative

West Felton church seems to have been founded in the reign of Henry I. or Stephen, and there is architectural evidence that there was a nave with north aisle before the middle of the 12th century. A south aisle was added half a century later. The chancel may have been rebuilt in the 14th century. A fine nave roof was erected late in the Perpendicular period. In 1782, the west tower fell down and was rebuilt soon afterwards. There have been considerable alterations and rebuilding in modern times as will be seen in the course of the following account. All the MS. evidence of the history of the church is dealt with exhaustively in a valuable paper by Mr. R. Lloyd Kenyon in the Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society, 2nd Series, vol. IX. pp. 309-384. To this I am indebted for much information.

The chancel retains its plain drop entering arch, though the jambs have been renewed. It seems to me to date from the 14th century, though, from its nondescript form, it might be work of the 13th or even of the 15th century. A sketch of the church in 1828 by D. Parkes shows a Georgian east window, a priest's doorway and a square-headed two-light window west of it. In 1848, the Rev. Thomas Hunt, rector of the parish, rebuilt the chancel, the architect being Mr. (afterwards Sir Gilbert) Scott the style is Decorated. Sir Gilbert Scott was also the designer of the excellent coped monument with floriated cross, outside the north wall, to the Hon. Thomas Kenyon of Pradoe, who died in 1851 and his wife and children. The monument placed against the north wall, inside, has shell-like work of effective design, and commemorates Edward Jones, Armiger, and Mary his wife who died in 1673. The glass in the chancel is not remarkable for its excellence. The organ chamber and vestry, on the south side, was added in 1878-9.

The Nave and Aisles

So far as one can now tell, the original church was built with nave and north aisle. Sometimes there is clear proof that the aisle is an addition, but no such proof exists here. The arcade is of four round arches, the inner order being chamfered: the west arch was rebuilt in 1878-9. The arches rest on massive plain capitals. The abaci are square, chamfered below without the characteristic quirk the western abacus has lost its square character through being cut into by a former gallery. There are no proper bases, the columns resting on square chamfered blocks parts of which seem to be old. It is impossible to determine the date of the arches with any precision. Norman work of the 11th century in such a small church would probably not have chamfered arches and plinths, and would have wider joints between the stones than occur mostly in this case. Late Norman work would probably have some more definite indication of its period. Some years ago I suggested circa 1140 as the probable date and this cannot be far wrong, though some antiquaries might think a few years earlier more likely.

The south arcade is about half a century later. It also consists of four round arches, which were rebuilt in 1878-9 with the original stones. The capitals and bases look very new, but I believe some of them at any rate to be old and only re-tooled when the church was restored. The bases are all alike, of the Attic type verging into Early English with water-hollows. No two of the capitals are exactly alike, but all have octagonal abaci moulded with the characteristic Norman chamfer and quirk. The period is clearly Transitional, near the end of the I2th century.

No evidence remains of further changes till the latter part of the Perpendicular period, when the excellent nave roof was built. It is collar-braced with two cusped struts above each collar. There are two purlins on each side with cusped purlin-braces.

On July 26th, 1798, it was decided to take down the aisles and to build walls between the pillars. The curious difficulty had to be faced that the ground was full of graves. It was overcome by building elliptic arches below ground between the pillars and placing the walls upon the arches.

In 1841-2, a new north aisle was built in the early Gothic Revival style which is already becoming interesting from the historical point of view. The east wall has a triplet of lancets, and there are pairs of lancets in the north and west walls one pair is cut short to fit the north doorway. The roof is collar-braced with trefoils and other Gothic details. The glass of the east and north-east windows is by Evans of Shrewsbury, who was often ahead of his day in such work. Both were presented by the Kenyon family, the former in 1841-2 and the latter in 1861. There is some good recent glass in another north window in memory of members of the Mostyn Owen family.

The south aisle was not rebuilt till 1878-9. The west window is of Decorated design, the south wall having pairs of square-headed windows with segmental scoinsons. Before 1782 the windows were of various kinds. One seems to have been Decorated and two late Perpendicular. A large dormer window was Perpendicular. There was a south porch, which has again become a feature of the church.

At the east end of the aisle is a good Jacobean chest. The chest now under the cower is dated 1686 with the initials of the contemporary churchwardens "T B" and "I D" The font, by the south doorway, is panelled with quatrefoils it was "restored and enriched" by the Hon. T Kenyon in 1840. The pewter ewer of good design has no doubt served as a flagon. A former font is in a garden in the village. It is used as a flower vase and really looks like one, with festoons of Georgian character. It was sold by the churchwardens for 3s. during the brief rectorate, 1866-7 of the Rev. Benjamin Hall Kennedy, the celebrated Headmaster of Shrewsbury School and Regius Professor of Greek at Cambridge.

The chantry of the Virgin, which we know to have been in West Felton church before the Reformation, was doubtless in one of the aisles, but whether north or south we cannot now tell.

The tower fell down in 1782. The old tower was battlemented and had round-headed windows. Whether these were Norman or Georgian is difficult to tell from the drawing. There can be no doubt about the Georgian nature of the new tower which was built in 1784. The windows, round and round-headed, open and blocked, have prominent key-stones. From the appearance I should judge that the stones of the old tower were re-used inside the new one. A Gothic arch and three-light west window were inserted in 1878-9.

A Brief was obtained in 1783 for £1079 2s. 8d., but it produced only £73 135. 6 1/2d. The wording of the Brief is given in Mr. Kenyon's paper and other interesting particulars are told of the intentions of the parishioners at that time. If money had allowed, there is no doubt that the whole church would have been rebuilt in the same style as the tower.

South of the church is a sun-dial of 1700 and a pedestal of 1748 : the churchwardens referred to on the latter must be John Bassnet of Sandford and John Bassnet of Rednal. The three round steps may be the medieval base of a churchyard cross.

The parish register begins in 1628, but is by no means complete.

- Churches of Shropshire, Cramage

References

  1. Alice Gwendoline Shaw
  2. Alice Tomkins
  3. Amy Edwards
  4. Ann Bill
  5. Ann Danily
  6. Anne Basnett
  7. Ann Frank
  8. Charles Bill
  9. Charles Frank
  10. Cllr. George Withers Edwards
  11. Daniel Wilkinson
  12. Edith Lilian Shaw
  13. Edith Mary Frank
  14. Edward Bill
  15. Edward Bill
  16. Edward Bill
  17. Edward Edwards
  18. Edward Edwards
  19. Edward Edwards
  20. Edward Frank
  21. Edward Frank
  22. Edward Green
  23. Edward Thomas
  24. Edward Walker
  25. Elizabeth Bill
  26. Elizabeth Bill
  27. Elizabeth Bill
  28. Elizabeth Cureton
  29. Elizabeth Evans
  30. Elizabeth Moses
  31. Elizabeth Rees
  32. Elizabeth Withers
  33. Emily Edwards
  34. Emma Edwards
  35. Eva May Edwards
  36. Fanny Elizabeth Edwards
  37. Frances Edwards
  38. Frances Edwards
  39. Frances Thomas
  40. Francis Bill
  41. Francis Bill
  42. Francis Bill
  43. Francis Cook Rogers
  44. Francis Thomas
  45. Frank Kirby Edwards
  46. Frank Richard Edwards
  47. Frank Richard Lloyd
  48. George Frank
  49. George Oswell Lloyd
  50. George Withers Edwards
  51. George Withers Edwards, Esq.
  52. George Withers, Esq.
  53. Hannah Baker
  54. Hannah Bill
  55. Hannah Bill
  56. Hannah Edwards
  57. Hannah Frank
  58. Hannah Frank
  59. Hannah Henrietta Bill
  60. Hannah Henriette Edwards
  61. Hannah Page
  62. Hannah Whitfield
  63. Harriot Edmunds
  64. Herbert Withers Edwards
  65. Jane Bill
  66. Jane Bill
  67. Jane Bill
  68. Jane Bill
  69. Jane Edmunds
  70. Jane Edwards
  71. Jane Parrock
  72. Jane Pugh
  73. Jane Withers
  74. Jeffrey Withers
  75. John Arthur Edwards
  76. John Bill
  77. John Bill
  78. John Bill
  79. John Bill
  80. John Bill, Esq.
  81. John Charles Frank
  82. John Downes
  83. John Edmunds
  84. John Edwards
  85. John Edwards
  86. John Edwards
  87. John Edwards
  88. John Shaw
  89. John Withers
  90. John Withers
  91. John Withers
  92. John Withers Edwards
  93. Joseph Withers
  94. Joseph Withers Edwards
  95. Kate Kirby
  96. Leslie Cureton Edwards
  97. Margaret Bill
  98. Margaret Edwards
  99. Margaret Edwards
  100. Margaret Frank
  101. Margaret Trevor Humphreys
  102. Margaret Williams
  103. Maria Edmunds
  104. Martha Frank
  105. Martha Withers
  106. Mary
  107. Mary Ann Hopkins
  108. Mary Basnett
  109. Mary Bill
  110. Mary Bill
  111. Mary Bill
  112. Mary Bill
  113. Mary Bill
  114. Mary Edwards
  115. Mary Edwards
  116. Mary Elizabeth Edwards
  117. Mary Ellen Edwards
  118. Mary Humphreys
  119. Mary Withers
  120. Mary Withers
  121. Nora Hammond
  122. Richard Bill
  123. Richard Edwards, Esq.
  124. Richard Vaughan
  125. Robert Edward Shaw
  126. Roger Bill
  127. Roger Bill
  128. Samuel Bill
  129. Samuel Edmunds
  130. Samuel Lawrence
  131. Samuel Thomas
  132. Sarah Bill
  133. Sarah Edmunds
  134. Sarah Frank
  135. Sarah Maria Edwards
  136. Sarah Maria Lloyd
  137. Sarah Thomas
  138. [Thomas] Bill
  139. Thomas Bill
  140. Thomas Bill
  141. Thomas Bill
  142. Thomas Bill
  143. Thomas Bill
  144. Thomas Bill
  145. Thomas Bill
  146. ^Thomas Byll
  147. Thomas Edmunds
  148. Thomas Gittins
  149. Thomas Humphreys
  150. Thomas Hurleston
  151. Thomas Lloyd
  152. Thomas Pugh
  153. Thomas Roberts
  154. Thomas Whitfield
  155. Thomas Wilkinson
  156. Thomas Withers
  157. William Bill
  158. William Bill
  159. William Bill
  160. William Downes
  161. William Downes
  162. William Edwards
  163. William Edwards
  164. William Thomas
  165. William Withers
  166. William Withers
  167. William Withers Lloyd