"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

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Knowle - Parish Church, Churchyard and Town

A few weeks ago I was family chauffeuring and had a couple of hours to spare in the town of Knowle near Solihull. It has taken me a while to get round to writing the post partly because I was hoping to re-visit the church to see the items I had missed and partly because I have finally got my act together and started the dreaded task of getting my mum's house ready to be sold which is proving as time consuming as I feared.

The name Knowle comes from the Saxon word "Cnolle" which means a small hill. For fans of The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady Edith Holden sometimes walked or cycled through this village and at one time lived nearby in Dorridge. The whole area has undergone so much housing development I very much doubt she would recognise the vast majority of the town.

The Guild House next to the church was built in 1413 as the headquarters of the Guild of St Anne founded by Walter Cook. The medieval Guild was an important charitable, religious and social organisation.

There are plenty of pubs in Knowle.

The Parish Church of Knowle

Centuries ago people from Knowle had to walk to the church in Hampton-in-Arden which was three miles away. A wealthy citizen of Knowle, Walter Cook, obtained permission from Pope Boniface IX, in 1396 to build a small chapel on land owned by his father. The chapel was completed and consecrated by 24th February, 1403.Since that time the church has been extended and altered. The biggest threat to the church was The Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII in the sixteenth century and also the suppression of Guilds and Colleges under Edward VI. The Kings Commissioners decided that the chapel could remain due to the distance to the nearest church which involved crossing the River Blythe which was dangerous during the winter.

When I have checked in the past this church has never appeared to be open to the public except for services or special open days so I spent ages looking at the exterior of the church and the churchyard.

There are many interesting grotesque, gargoyles and pinnacles.

The grass was very "manicured" but there were plenty of trees and shrubs around for birds.

My exploration of the churchyard finished I wandered round to the main entrance to the church only to find it was open!!!!!!!!!!!! Apparently it is now open most days and, although a funeral was due to be held in an hour, I was kindly told I could look round for half an hour. (I really should have checked beforehand to see whether it was open! and I was also kicking myself for spending so much time looking round the churchyard)

The pointed arches of the nave show that it was originally built in the 14th or 15th century.

The font is octagonal with quatrefoils as decoration - a popular carving of the 14th and 15th centuries when the font was made.

The colours of the stained glass window in the baptistry area were beautiful. The window shows Jesus surrounded by children and it was installed in memory of the late Canon Thomas Downing who was Vicar of Knowle 1901 to 1932.

Isn't this peacock beautiful?

The Soldiers' Chapel was originally a chantry chapel and then a family pew but it is now a memorial for men and women of Knowle who have died in wars.

This window is dedicated to three men from Knowle who lost their lives on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in the First World War.

The East Window shows the Crucifixion and Ascension and dates from the 1870s. The stained glass in the church is all relatively modern and is 19th century.



I really should have looked at the original medieval rood screen more closely as when I got home and finally read the guide book I discovered it contained many carvings.

One of two medieval dug-out chests in the church. They were once used for keeping parish documents and had 3 locks - the priest had keys to one and two church wardens keys for the other two so that the chest could only be opened when all three were present.

After leaving the church I had a little wander round the High Street

I bought some rather nice bread from this artisan baker.

Chester House is now Knowle Library. It was originally two houses built in 1400 and 1500 which were later combined to make one dwelling used either as a farmhouse or inn.

More purchases were made at the sweet shop.

By now the rain which had threatened during my whole walk materialised so I returned to the car.

So what did I miss in the church?

Carvings on the Rood Screen (as already mentioned)
Scratch marks or graffiti on arches in the nave
Roof beams made from oak sourced from the local Forest of Arden (the roof dates back to medieval times) and there are traces of red paint and metal stars
Carved misericords
Carvings on the pulpit of roses, leaves, acorns, rosehips, grapes, blackberries, hazelnuts, catkins and sycamore seeds.
A Bronze Tablet as you enter the church to the church's founder Walter Cook also in front of the rood screen is a round grey stone half buried under the carpet which may be the tomb of Cook.

I will try and return as I pass through Knowle on my way to Baddesley Clinton which I keep meaning to try and visit before I miss the annual dahlia display.

All photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330

Reference : Guide book to the Parish Church of Knowle and an Information sheet


Chris Rohrer said...

You did what I would have done...everything BUT get the house project done:) I like your way of doing things. I do hope it goes smoothly. Never a pleasant task....especially of a place with so many memories.

Ragged Robin said...

Chris Rohrer - Thanks so much Chris and lovely to hear from you. The house clearing is made even worse by the fact that the relative who has been living in the house for the last 6 years has done no housework at all. How on earth I am ever going to get them to leave so the house can be sold and estate split between beneficiaries I really don't know. It really is a nightmare situation :(

Pam said...

The church looks beautiful and the windows are stunning, your photos do it justice!

I'm glad you've made the decision about the house, I hope you're able to find a way to resolve things with the person living there so you can move forward with it all.

Rosie said...

I've never been to Knowle, it looks like an interesting town to wander around as does the church and churchyard. So many interesting things both inside and out. What a shame that you fond out the church was open when there wasn't much time to have good look around. At least when you return you know that the church is open more often than you thought. The house clearing and preparation for selling must be quite a tiring and emotional thing to do. I hope all goes well:)

Ragged Robin said...

Pam - thanks so much - you are very kind with your comments about the photos and the house.

Rosie - Thank you - Knowle is nice for a little wander. I couldn't believe it when I found out it had been open all along!! Thanks so much for your kind words re: the house. I suspect it is going to be a long drawn out affair to be honest. I can only do so much while the person is living there i.e. can clear personal items but can't get house clearance in to shift the rest or really put on the market at the moment.

Midmarsh John said...

Wow. That is quite some structure for a parish church. The quantity and quality of stained glass and carvings shows a lot of money and expertise eas spent in days gone by.

Ragged Robin said...

Midmarsh John - Thank you - as you say it is incredibly impressive for a parish church. Not even a wool town as far as I know.

amanda peters said...

The Guild house is a lovely building, nice to see the other buildings too. The gargoyle reminds me of one of the animals on the Muppet show ! Grave stones and statues are impressive as are the stained glass windows, especially like the Peacock and the deer.

Even though you did not have the time today, it's nice to know the church is kept open, looks like it is well looked after too. What with the few shops and beautiful buildings it will be a nice place to go back to and spot the things you missed.
Beautiful set of photographs as well.
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thanks so much. I have found since the creation of #animals in churches on twitter I am looking for animals etc. whenever I visit a church! Helped now too by the zoom on the bridge camera.

Will stop off again one day - not sure about next visit to Baddesley Clinton though as it looks as though E will be coming with me and she really doesn't like church crawling!

CherryPie said...

Knowle looks like a lovely village full of history. The church looks fascinating I will have to make time to visit.

Ragged Robin said...

CherryPie - Thank you - hope you can visit. Knowle is right by the M42 exit for Solihull and not very far from Baddesley Clinton and Packwood.