"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, 17 September 2015

Heritage Festival, St Mary and St Margarets and another Wildlife Friendly Churchyard

D and I went along to Castle Bromwich Heritage Festival last Saturday afternoon.

Just a few photos from the event - I think this may be the same Organ Grinder who appears at New Hall Mill Open Days?

Ouch! - looks exceedingly painful!!

No sign of the Green Man this year :( but I did see this picture in the tea room showing him by an Oak Tree at the start (or end) of the Solihull Green Man Trail.

Fungi growing in the churchyard. Chicken of the Woods?? Am absolutely hopeless at Fungi id so if anyone knows what this is please leave a comment.

St Mary and St Margaret's Church was open - not too many photos partly because I did a post on this church last year and also "Queen Victoria" was holding a story telling session in the Chancel so I couldn't get to that area to take photos. The church has a family connection - my parents were married there.

References to a place of worship on this site date back to a charter of 1165. Documents refer to a chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary at Castle Bromwich. The chapel was the private place of worship for the lords of Castle Bromwich Manor and subject to the parish church at Aston. Evidence suggests that this Chapel is now the site of the present Chancel and the high altar has been in its present position for around 800 years.

During the 15th century a timber-framed church was constructed at the end of the Norman stone chancel. The medieval roof is still in place - I posted a photo in my post last year when we had a tour of the tower and you can see the huge oak beams being held together by wooden pegs.

In 1657 Orlando Bridgeman bought Castle Bromwich Hall and the manorial estates for his son Sir John I. Sir John's son, Sir John Bridgeman II succeeded to the estate in 1710 and proceeded to extend the hall and lay out the Gardens. The church was also extended and unusually instead of demolishing the old timber and stone church the new church was built around the old one with most of the original woodwork being enclosed in brick, lath and plaster. St Mary and St Margaret is the only known example of an encased church or a "church within a church". The work was completed in 1731. Charles Edward Bateman, an architect and advocate of the Arts and Crafts Movement, who lived in Castle Bromwich was the person who first discovered that the Parish Church had been built around the previous Medieval church.

The church became the parish church in 1878.

The stained glass is either Victorian or modern.

The font dates back to 1731 and is made of Italian marble.

Here you can see some of the original church behind the plaster.

Possible appearance of the church before it was encased in the present building.

19th century graffiti!

Before we left I went and had a look round the Graveyard which in the last few years has been the subject of a community project to clear the very overgrown churchyard and research the lives of those who have been buried there. They have produced an interesting booklet entitled "Stories Behind the Headstones".

It was good to learn that the renovation of the churchyard is being undertaken with wildlife in mind and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust are advising the volunteers and wherever possible native plants are being used. I noticed a lot of pollinator friendly plants and some of you may remember the flower border full of alliums and bees at this churchyard that I wrote about during the Wildlife Trust's #30 Days Wild project.

There are still a few plants flowering and plenty of seedheads.

Visible from the furthest part of the churchyard is what remains of the mound that locally is known as "Pimple Hill", the remains of a 12th century motte and bailey construction built as a defence to guard the important crossing of the River Tame. Sadly, much of the site was destroyed in the 1970's during the construction of a road and what remains now lies stranded between the M6 and the Collector Road. An extensive archaeological dig by Birmingham Museum took place before the road was built and evidence was found of a timber structure on the mound and a Roman settlement.


Countryside Tales said...

Fascinating post as always. I love the picture of what the church may once have looked like. Sad to see the old mound trapped between roads, but I suppose at least some work's been done and evidence of settlement recorded. Great to see all the flowers in the churchyard- such a great resource for wildlife and can only enhance the peacefulness. Hope you have a good weekend, apologies if I've missed any of your posts, it's been crazy busy here this week. I am just catching breath now! x

Caroline Gill said...

What a lovely post. Those rondels (is that the term for small 'rose' windows??) are beautiful. I like the way that the vibrant Amazing Grace banner design is also (pretty much) round and therefore in keeping with the older elements. It's good to see you churchyard photos: I am trying to write a sonnet for/about our ('suburban'-'edge-of-countryside' church ... and hoping it will be ready for the concert next month ... !!!

Millymollymandy said...

Just looking at the old bottles and the mind boggles over Brain Salt! I hope they didn't shake it over their food hoping for wisdom..... especially if it contained ground up brain, haha! :-)

Super pictures showing the wonderful stained glass windows and interesting historical features of the church. Love seeing the garden too and how it is doing in late summer. What a shame about Pimple Hill but at least there was the opportunity to dig this site before the road went through there. I enjoy watching Time Team so I at least know what a mott and bailey is! :-)

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Thanks very much CT :) The churchyard was very peaceful (apart from roar of traffic!!) - I think the community project is trying to create a place that is relaxing for local people.

Have a good weekend too and no need to apologise for missing posts. To be honest I have missed leaving comments on a few of yours recently. So hectic too here at the moment (not helped by OH now being at home which means I can't spend the hours I used to spend on computer). I do read all the posts but if bloggers post more than once a week I struggle to keep up with leaving comments as well time wise :(

Caroline gill - Thanks so much for the comment. Yes, I think they are called rondels. Interesting church all round. Good luck on writing the poem - I hope you put it on your blog as I would love to read it :)

Millymollymandy - Thanks so much. lol re: Brain Salt!!! :) Amazing all the stuff they used to use!

I am relieved they managed to do some archaeological work before most of the mound was destroyed. I have several books on Castle Bromwich and history so will try and find out more information and tag it onto the next post I do on the Gardens. I like watching Time Team too :)

Toffeeapple said...

I am just reading a book Wildlife in the Churchyard -Francesca Greenoak which is very interesting so am hoping to investigate locally at some point.

I remember a lot of those old medicine bottles!☺

Ragged Robin said...

Toffeeapple - lol re: the medicine bottles. I do remember some medicines in brown bottles - wasn't there something called terramycin (a sickly pink liquid)??? My brother was always being prescribed it!!

So glad you have the Franesca Greenoak book - its a total delight and the illustrations charming. It really inspired me re: churchyards and is one of my favourite books. I do hope you find some good places locally. Would love to hear where you have visited via a comment please :)

David said...

What an interesting looking event and I do enjoy seeing people in period costumes. However I am very glad that medical science has improved since those days, especially as I had a tooth extracted a few years ago!

The church is a curious one and indeed I have never come across a 'church within a church', and whilst the exterior is perhaps not what one would call beautiful it is nevertheless an interesting and unique structure. However the interior looks rather nice what with all the Victorian stained glass and I rather like the Madonna & Child picture above the altar. The marble font is rather grand as well!

Kindest regards :-)

Ragged Robin said...

David - Thanks so much David - Heritage Fair was a lot smaller than last year but there was still plenty to see. I agree about medical procedures having had a tooth out myself too in recent years!! In fact, I am old enough to remember fillings without anaesthetic and believe me it was not a pleasant experience and you had to have gas in those days for a tooth extraction to knock you out!!

I agree about the outside of the church not being the most beautiful!! But the history of the place is fascinating and family-wise its nice to see inside the church where mum and dad got married and where I was christened - presumably in that marble font!!!

Best wishes Caroline