"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

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

St Peter and St Paul

Yesterday we went along to Coleshill to visit the church of St Peter and St Paul which had an Open Day.

The church stands at the highest point of the hill and is quite a landmark for some miles around.

People in the area converted to Christianity in the 670's and there may have been a minster church on the site from 799 which may possibly have been built on the site of pre-Christian activity. (Those of you who read the last post on Berkswell church may remember the reference to ley lines - Coleshill and its church was mentioned there (Cole's Hill)). The earliest written reference to a church at this site dates to 1280 and the oldest part of the present church building was built early in the 14th century replacing previous buildings of worship. The nave was added in the middle of the 14th century and Tower, Spire and Chancel erected in the first half of the 15th century. A drastic restoration by Victorians in 1868/9 sadly removed traces in the masonry of the church's historical development. External stonework and much of the interior was replaced by modern materials - no wonder I couldn't find any medieval graffiti!

Stump of a medieval preaching cross close to the church.

Stone carvings on the exterior

The tower and spire together are around 170 feet high

The tower was open to all who wished to climb. I have an admission to make here I really don't like heights especially those with sheer drops so I was quite happy to leave B and D to make the ascent on their own. The views looked stunning even if they make me feel a trifle dizzy! The photos below were taken by D with the Canon Bridge.

Meanwhile I looked round the church - luckily I had taken my Olympus along with the macro lens attached. Not ideal for indoor photography but the pictures came out better than I thought and my camera always struggles in churches with low light whichever lens I use.

Some of the stained glass - I can't find information on the age of this. (First photo taken with the Canon).

The pulpit was moved at some point which is the reason why the steps are the wrong way round!

There had been a wedding in the church at the weekend and there were flowers everywhere.

There are several floor brasses in the church (years ago I always fancied trying brass rubbing although I never have). This one is of Coleshill's first post Reformation vicar - John Fenton who died in 1566). Although you can't see from the photo his right hand has six digits. Brass rubbing is no longer allowed on this particular brass as damage has occurred.

The effigy in the south aisle (which predates the present church) may be of John I de Clinton who was one of those besieged during the siege of Kenilworth in 1265 against King Henry III. John I may well have accompanied the future Edward I on his crusade to recapture Nazareth. He died ~1298 and the effigy wears chain mail and a surcoat. The fleur de lys on the shield is the heraldic design of the Clintons and the dog at his feet reflects that a dog was a crusader's symbol of fidelity.

In the north aisle is an effigy of John II de Clinton (son of John I) who died in 1316. The effigy again predates the present church.

The tomb of Sir George Digby (d 1586) and his wife Abigail.

Effigies of Simon Digby (d 1519) and his wife Alice). He was the first member of the Digby family to be Lord of the Manor of Coleshill

The tomb of Reginald Digby (d 1549) and his wife Anne. The base shows figures of their 12 children.

The Font is superb and was carved from Caen stone probably mid to late 12th century - it predates the present building. There are semi-circular arched sections round the side. One shows the Crucifixion and the others have scroll arch foliage and 4 figures. It is possible that during the Civil War the font was plastered over to hide the precious stones that then surrounded the Crucifixion scene. It was rediscovered in 1859.

This photo (and a few of the font) were taken when I visited several years ago.

We had tea and cake before we left - a scrumptious selection of home-made goodies was on offer!

Finally, sorry I know this is another long post! - a photo of moss growing on a wall taken with the Canon.

Later in the afternoon I went along to Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens for a bee talk and walk with an insect expect but I'll write about that in another post in a few days.

Good news today - Olympus has returned my lens - repaired and cleaned :)

Reference : A Walk Round Coleshill Parish Church leaflet
Coleshill Parish Church Guide


Margaret Adamson said...

these open days are wonderful and this was a brilliant place to visit. the stain glass windows are stunning. I was at one on Sunday although or me, thee were too many people there to get good photographs.

Wendy said...

An interesting post about a lovely looking church. The font is impressive. It is fortunate that medieval art was often plastered over rather than destroyed by the iconoclasts. The church must have looked beautiful with all the flowers. I love the views, but like you, I don't do heights very well!

Ragged Robin said...

Margaret Adamson - Thanks Margaret. Open Days are a great way to see churches/buildings not always open! I really struggled trying to get a people free photo of font as you can see!

Wendy - Thanks Wendy. A shame I couldn't get more flower photos but light was too low in many areas. I did manage to get up the tower a few years ago at Castle Bromwich Church (its not so high) but I just quivered by the door and let D take photos from the edge and I refused point blank to go up York Minster!

amanda peters said...

Lovely place and the view from the top is stunning, love to see the flowers and the cake selection ...Yum..
Great post and interesting to read.
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thanks Amanda - glad you enjoyed. Cake was very nice and the flowers were so beautiful :)

David said...

More wonderful church goodies to enjoy, your neck of the woods is certainly gifted with many fine churches and buildings. The Victorians and their renovations did do quite a bit of damage to our church history didn't they, though in saying that they probably also saved some buildings from falling into complete disrepair as well.

The font as you say is superb and it is amazing it has survived so well. I wonder if the font was plastered over intentionally to not only protect the precious stones but also to save it from complete destruction and vandalism by the Puritans.

The cakes look rather nice too :-)

Hope you have a lovely weekend and kindest regards to all :-)

Dartford Warbler said...

What an interesting church. So much history of the local families. I love the stained glass windows and the beautiful fresh flowers arranged for a wedding.

Ragged Robin said...

David - Many thanks David. I just wish more of the churches were open all the time - they tend to be open more in S than N Warks. You are right about the Victorians - a mixed blessing really - no pun intended!! :)

I suspect you are right too about the font. So good it survived even though jewels now missing - I spent ages just staring at it - so much craftsmanship and skill :)

Have a lovely weekend too and best wishes to you all :) Caroline

Dartford Warler - Many thanks - yes, it is an interesting church - history is the main reason really why I visit so many and for churchyards its the wildlife :) The stained glass was super - I think it was probably installed in the main with the Victorian restoration - although I am surmising!

Millymollymandy said...

Cake!! Now that's my kind of thing.... you are going to be quite the expert on local churches, Caroline! I do prefer the outside to the inside of them but I am always amazed at the skill of the ancient artisans - there are few who could build a church or cathedral these days in the old way. Glad your lens is back too. Have a great weekend! xx

Ragged Robin said...

Millymollymandy Thanks Mandy. I have problems (as you may have gathered) getting my family inside churches only the lure of a walk up the tower worked last Monday. I am not religious at all but I do love the history and as you say the skill of the ancient artisans. I particularly love the fact that more and more churches are allowing wildlife to flourish in their churchyards - although there are exceptions!!

Thanks re: the lens. Took it to Berkswell (sorry another church!!) in the week to try it out and it seems fine now although repair wasn't cheap!

Have a great weekend too :)

ps will visit your latest post soon. Blogger seems at the moment to be having a problem uploading photos on some blogs (not all - I haven't visited your's yet) but if there is a delay it is because of the Blogger problem.

Deb said...

Really interesting post. I'm the same with heights, preferring to stay below, but fantastic view though. The flowers are lovely and so is the cake. Yum! :)

Ragged Robin said...

Deb - Thanks so much and so glad you enjoyed. Wish I could have got more flower photos.