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. Ann Frank
  7. Anne Basnett
  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. Family of Charles Frank and Ann Danily
    1. Ann Danily
    2. Charles Frank
  37. Family of Daniel Wilkinson and Alice Tomkins
    1. Alice Tomkins
    2. Daniel Wilkinson
  38. Family of Edward Edwards and Jane Parrock
    1. Edward Edwards
    2. Jane Parrock
  39. Family of Edward Green and Fanny Elizabeth Edwards
    1. Edward Green
    2. Fanny Elizabeth Edwards
  40. Family of Edward Walker and Martha Withers
    1. Edward Walker
    2. Martha Withers
  41. Family of Francis Bill and Elizabeth Evans
    1. Elizabeth Evans
    2. Francis Bill
  42. Family of Francis Bill and Hannah Baker
    1. Francis Bill
    2. Hannah Baker
  43. Family of Francis Cook Rogers and Frances Edwards
    1. Frances Edwards
    2. Francis Cook Rogers
  44. Family of John Charles Frank and Hannah Henriette Edwards
    1. Hannah Henriette Edwards
    2. John Charles Frank
  45. Family of John Edwards and Hannah Whitfield
    1. Hannah Whitfield
    2. John Edwards
  46. Family of John Edwards and Nora Hammond
    1. John Edwards
    2. Nora Hammond
  47. Family of John Withers and Frances Edwards
    1. Frances Edwards
    2. John Withers
  48. Family of Richard Vaughan and Jane Withers
    1. Jane Withers
    2. Richard Vaughan
  49. Family of Thomas Gittins and Anne Basnett
    1. Anne Basnett
    2. Thomas Gittins
  50. Family of Thomas Hurleston and Hannah Bill
    1. Hannah Bill
    2. Thomas Hurleston
  51. Family of Thomas Lloyd and Sarah Maria Edwards
    1. Sarah Maria Edwards
    2. Thomas Lloyd
  52. Family of Thomas Pugh and Mary Edwards
    1. Mary Edwards
    2. Thomas Pugh
  53. Family of Thomas Roberts and Ann Danily
    1. Ann Danily
    2. Thomas Roberts
  54. Family of Thomas Whitfield and Hannah Edwards
    1. Hannah Edwards
    2. Thomas Whitfield
  55. Family of William Downes
    1. William Downes
  56. Family of William Downes and Jane Edwards
    1. Jane Edwards
    2. William Downes
  57. Family of William Thomas and Ann Bill
    1. Ann Bill
    2. William Thomas
  58. Fanny Elizabeth Edwards
  59. Frances Edwards
  60. Frances Edwards
  61. Frances Thomas
  62. Francis Bill
  63. Francis Bill
  64. Francis Bill
  65. Francis Cook Rogers
  66. Francis Thomas
  67. Frank Kirby Edwards
  68. Frank Richard Edwards
  69. Frank Richard Lloyd
  70. George Frank
  71. George Oswell Lloyd
  72. George Withers Edwards
  73. George Withers Edwards, Esq.
  74. George Withers, Esq.
  75. Hannah Baker
  76. Hannah Bill
  77. Hannah Bill
  78. Hannah Edwards
  79. Hannah Frank
  80. Hannah Frank
  81. Hannah Henrietta Bill
  82. Hannah Henriette Edwards
  83. Hannah Page
  84. Hannah Whitfield
  85. Harriot Edmunds
  86. Herbert Withers Edwards
  87. Jane Bill
  88. Jane Bill
  89. Jane Bill
  90. Jane Bill
  91. Jane Edmunds
  92. Jane Edwards
  93. Jane Parrock
  94. Jane Pugh
  95. Jane Withers
  96. Jeffrey Withers
  97. John Arthur Edwards
  98. John Bill
  99. John Bill
  100. John Bill
  101. John Bill
  102. John Bill, Esq.
  103. John Charles Frank
  104. John Downes
  105. John Edmunds
  106. John Edwards
  107. John Edwards
  108. John Edwards
  109. John Edwards
  110. John Shaw
  111. John Withers
  112. John Withers
  113. John Withers
  114. John Withers Edwards
  115. Joseph Withers
  116. Joseph Withers Edwards
  117. Kate Kirby
  118. Leslie Cureton Edwards
  119. Margaret Bill
  120. Margaret Edwards
  121. Margaret Edwards
  122. Margaret Frank
  123. Margaret Trevor Humphreys
  124. Margaret Williams
  125. Maria Edmunds
  126. Martha Frank
  127. Martha Withers
  128. Mary
  129. Mary Ann Hopkins
  130. Mary Basnett
  131. Mary Bill
  132. Mary Bill
  133. Mary Bill
  134. Mary Bill
  135. Mary Bill
  136. Mary Edwards
  137. Mary Edwards
  138. Mary Elizabeth Edwards
  139. Mary Ellen Edwards
  140. Mary Humphreys
  141. Mary Withers
  142. Mary Withers
  143. Nora Hammond
  144. Richard Bill
  145. Richard Edwards, Esq.
  146. Richard Vaughan
  147. Robert Edward Shaw
  148. Roger Bill
  149. Roger Bill
  150. Samuel Bill
  151. Samuel Edmunds
  152. Samuel Lawrence
  153. Samuel Thomas
  154. Sarah Bill
  155. Sarah Edmunds
  156. Sarah Frank
  157. Sarah Maria Edwards
  158. Sarah Maria Lloyd
  159. Sarah Thomas
  160. Thomas Bill
  161. Thomas Bill
  162. Thomas Bill
  163. Thomas Bill
  164. Thomas Bill
  165. Thomas Bill
  166. Thomas Bill
  167. Thomas Edmunds
  168. Thomas Gittins
  169. Thomas Humphreys
  170. Thomas Hurleston
  171. Thomas Lloyd
  172. Thomas Pugh
  173. Thomas Roberts
  174. Thomas Whitfield
  175. Thomas Wilkinson
  176. Thomas Withers
  177. William Bill
  178. William Bill
  179. William Bill
  180. William Downes
  181. William Downes
  182. William Edwards
  183. William Edwards
  184. William Thomas
  185. William Withers
  186. William Withers
  187. William Withers Lloyd
  188. [Thomas] Bill
  189. ^Thomas Byll