"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Thursday, 1 March 2012

St Giles, Packwood

Following on from my previous post on Edith Holden's journey to Packwood Hall and Church - here's a bit more information on St Giles Church, which is over 800 years old, and more photos.

The first church on the site was probably wooden and was replaced by the present stone nave and chancel in the late thirteenth century. Nearby Packwood Hall, now privately owned, was, it is thought, once a residence of priests from Coventry Priory Cathedral.

In June 1706 Michael Johnson, a bookseller from Lichfield married Sara Ford from Packwood in the church. Their son born in 1709 grew up to be Dr Samuel Johnson of literary fame.

The church tower, known as The Tower of Atonement, was added in the late fifteenth century by Nicholas Brome, Lord of nearby Baddesley Clinton, as an act of atonement for murdering a local priest who he found his parlour "chockings his wife under ye chinne" (Ferrars).

These pilgrim marks scratched in stone underneath the windows near the altar were made by pilgrims leaving their mark when visiting the church in the past - in the same way we might sign a visitors' book today.

Original pews once situated around the side of the church

The wall paintings shown in the photos below have been dated to the fourteenth century and are known as Packwood's Doom Painting. They were concealed by plaster during the Protestant Reformation and were only revealed again in 1927. They represent the Day of Judgement.

The font could be as old as the church and at one time disappeared - only to be found being used locally as an animal trough. The lack of engravings signify that the church had little revenue.

This ancient chest is believed to be Norman and could be older than the church. It was hewn from a tree trunk. It was once used to keep parish records and has 3 locks which could only be opened when the priest and both churchwardens, who each possessed a different key, were present.

Local children helped in the embroidery of this delightful cloth

One of the stained glass windows

The church is dedicated to St Giles - a French patron saint who is depicted in the stained glass window in the photo below. His symbol was a fawn who it is reputed provided him with milk when he was a recluse.

Many thanks again to the lovely lady I met for her time and giving me so much information on the church.

The churchyard is one of the best in the country for wildflowers and I can't wait to visit in a month's time to see some of these for myself.

Reference: Guide Book to St Giles Church


Pete said...

great post RR!!!

Toffeeapple said...

You given us such lovely images. I enlarged each one twice so that I could really get the feel of the place, it's lovely. Poor St Giles with the arrow in his right hand. The wall paintings are rather lovely.

Ragged Robin said...

Pete - many thanks! Have you been to St Giles? I can't find it in the Jenkins book but I am sure I have read about it somewhere in the past

Toffeeapple - many thanks for your lovely comment - so glad you enjoyed. The church was very atmospheric - I love the history of such places!