"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

Monday, 11 September 2017

St Edburgha's Church

On Saturday afternoon I went along to another Birmingham church, this time in Yardley - St Edburgha's - which was open for Heritage Week.

This garden was planted some years ago when the gravestones were removed from the churchyard (I am not sure what happened to the tombstones).

There is evidence of a school on the site by AD1260. Monks from Maxstoke Priory came to the school to teach. The present building probably dates from the 15th century and it may have originally been the Guild Hall. The school closed in 1908 - the last Master being the Reverend William Sutherns. Nowadays the building is used as a Parish Room and has a Youth Club upstairs and the Sarah Hassell Lounge on the ground floor.

The church dates back to the 13th century although there was probably a wooden church on the site before this. The church is dedicated to St Edburgha, a grand-daughter of King Alfred, who became a nun and eventually the Abbess at Pershore, Worcestershire. The chancel is the earliest part of the church (13th century) and the Nave and North Aisle were added in the 14th century. The Church tower and spire is 15th century and is 149 feet/45 metres tall. It was the only church in Yardley until Marston Chapel was consecrated in 1704.

The porch is 15th century and in the Middle Ages weddings and funerals were conducted here.

Another church that has markings where arrows were sharpened although the leaflet picked up in the church has an interesting alternative suggestion that I have never heard before that they may have been created by wedding guests scraping off the soft stone and using it as confetti to throw over the bride and groom.

Many thanks to the lady who gave me a guided tour of the church.

Stained Glass

The East Window (East and West Windows were made by the Hardman Company.)

The Greswolde Monument - sorry photos are awful - not helped by the fact that a piano obscured much of the monument!
It commemorates the Reverend Henry Greswold who died in 1700 and his wife Ann. Some of their children are represented in the carvings.

The Chancel

This stained glass window shows monks teaching in the nearby school.

The age of the font is not known.

This stone carving of Marianne and Thomas Est who died in 1462 on the same day is the oldest monument in the church. Thomas Est was Governor of Kenilworth Castle and Yeoman of the Crown to King Henry V and VI. They lived nearby at Hay Hall.

The Nave

The West Window

Nearby is Blakesley Hall - a timber-framed house built in 1590. I didn't have time to visit on Saturday but if you want to read more please click here and here

Reference : Information gained on the guided tour and a leaflet entitled "A Walk Around Yardley Church" based on "How to Look at Yardley Church" by Canon E K Cochrane and revised by Rev. D A Edwards.


Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Very sharp spire! Always love to see that.

Ragged Robin said...

Simon Douglas Thompson - Thanks Simon - I always love the combination of tower and spire :)

Amanda Peters said...

Lovely post, Village looks very pretty with it's old red brick houses and the church spire showing the way in the sky line.
Porch very impressive, marks do look like were arrows were sharpened, but makes you wonder why they would be doing in on the way into church?
Very impressive monument too, I too am finding windows and other objects are obscured by modern day appliances, outside it's wheely bins that drive me mad.!
Great post and its lovely to compare the different stiles of churches we visit.
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thanks so much Amanda. It still looks rural in the old conservation area but very much built up and developed these days. There is a big park behind the church though.

I think the marks look like arrow sharpenings - I think perhaps they used the churchyard many many years ago to practise their archery.

Agree about stuff cluttering up monuments - have had same problem before but I think it is because churches are used for so many things these days. Wheelie bins seem to find their way everywhere these days!! :(

Rustic Pumpkin said...

Enjoyable and informative as always. Fascinating about the sharpening of arrows ~ I wonder if the alternative is offered as a peaceable solution, as arrows would mean war! Thank you for taking us along!

Rosie said...

What a fascinating church and old hall. Love the arrow sharpening markings on the church walls. I've never heard of the 'confetti' theory either. The Greswold Memorial is very ornate and the Est memorials fascinating, I wonder what caused the deaths of both husband and wife on the same day?:)

Ragged Robin said...

Deborah RusticPumpkin - Thanks so much - yes that is a good idea about the alternative being a peaceable solution.

Rosie - Thank you - the arrow sharpening marks were well pronounced there. I tried to do some research online to find about more about the Ests as I could remember so little of what the guide told me! But there is very limited information available. If I ever find out more will let you know especially whey they died on the same day - that was one piece of info the guide gave that I did remember!!

Pam said...

The confetti idea is quite odd but quite interesting to think that could be the reasoning behind the marks!

Ragged Robin said...

Pam - Thanks. Yes, it is a strange idea - have seen those markings before on probably half a dozen churches and the church guide books have always explained them as being created by arrows being regularly sharpened.

The Quacks of Life said...

like the idea about confetti.... never heard that one before!

Ragged Robin said...

Pete Duxon - Thanks Pete - first time I have heard of that idea too!