"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