"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, 30 August 2021

St Mary the Virgin, Stoneleigh


Leaving D picking blackberries in Stoneleigh a few days ago I wandered over to St Mary's church.

The original church was probably a wooden structure and it was rebuilt in the first half of the 12th century when Henry I granted the living to the monastery at nearby Kenilworth which continued until the Reformation.  Much remains of this building although there were extensive alterations in the 14th century in the "Decorated" style especially in the nave and Norman tower.  In the 15th century a belfry was added and in the 17th century a vestry was built by Thomas, the first Lord Leigh from nearby Stoneleigh Abbey. Under the vestry the Leigh family vault was constructed.  The vestry was "Stuart Gothic" in style complete with pinnacles.

On 22nd October 1643 during the Civil War the vicar was threated by Parliamentarian soldiers who had caused a disturbance in the church. They retired and then fired their pistols at the window in the hope of murdering the vicar!

The church is built of red sandstone which was quarried nearby.

One of the features I wanted to see again was the blocked North Nave door.

The tympanum shows two dragons (sadly very weathered) with their necks intertwined and each dragon is biting its own tail. Above in a small panel are two snakes also biting their tails. ie an ouroborus.

The church door looked well and truly locked so first I went to explore the churchyard. Lots of trees but it did look quite manicured although to be fair I did not explore all areas.

You may need to click on this photo to enlarge but its an interesting inscription. It has been moved from the south porch and is now inserted in a blocked doorway.

Note the pinnacles on what I assume is the vestry - they look rather out of place!!!!!

This memorial (not sure if it was meant to be a sundial at some stage?)  was dedicated to Edith Pridmore who died in 1923.

I did try the door but it was locked.

I briefly visited the church a few years ago when D and I were in Stoneleigh but the photos of the interior were really poor and I had hoped to get better ones.  The main features I wanted to see were the Norman font with carvings of the 12 Apostles, the Chancel Screen carvings particularly those of a snake and bird and the Leigh monuments. I am not sure if the church was closed due to thefts or the Pandemic? but I will check before I visit again to see if it is open.

Finally, a few photos that D took on our walk round. I have excluded most of the building pictures as they were similar to mine.

A rare photo of me!!!

I hope everyone is staying safe and well.

Photos of the church taken by me with the Pansonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera and rest of photos taken by D with the Canon SX50HS bridge camera.


Church guide to the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Stoneleigh-in-Arden.

Pevsner Buildings of England Warwickshire (latest edition).

Friday, 27 August 2021

A Walk Around the Village of Stoneleigh


D's been on holiday from work this week and we planned a few outings.  Yesterday we re-visited the very pretty and picturesque village of Stoneleigh near Kenilworth.

Centuries ago Stoneleigh (or Stanlei as it was then known) was deep in the Forest of Arden.  Large oaks in the nearby parkland of Stoneleigh Abbey are all that now remain of this once vast forest.

Before the Norman Conquest and until the reign of Henry I Stanlei was a royal manor.  It was locally important for its Hundred Court of Medieval times which was held on nearby Motslow Hill.

The Domesday Survey recorded the manor had two mills and four miles of woodland where the King owned the feeding of 200 hogs.  

Today the village has many timber framed houses with around 26 dating from c1450 to the late 17th century.

The Old School House to the far left in the photo below dates from the early 19th century and was recorded as being used as an infant school in 1872.

This is a 3 bay cruck cottage dating from c1500.  There are six "cruck" cottages in Stoneleigh.  A cruck is a curved piece of timber which is split in two and the two halves are put together in an upside down "v" shape to support the roof and walls.

I quite often check on houses for sale in the village and the house on the right in the photo below is currently on the market but from memory I think it only contains one bedroom. I think the thatched building on the left is a separate house.

Even the more recent houses are attractively built.

Orchard Cottage is a 19th century cottage built by Stoneleigh Estate workers using old materials so the house would blend in.

The Old Smithy built in 1851. It was restored in 2007 and is now used as a sales room for stoves and fireplaces.

The cottages below were built around 1600.

The Almshouses of which there are ten. They were built in 1594 and encased in stone in 1597.  They were founded by Dame Alice Leigh, wife of the first Sir Thomas Leigh, to house 5 poor men and 5  poor women.

A Community Orchard

Old Red Sandstone on the bridge over the River Sowe.

There are stories of a ghostly cyclist seen in Stoneleigh. An anxious looking man on an ancient bicycle has been spotted careering madly down the hill into the village where he disappears into a stone wall. Apparently a cyclist was killed here in a cycling accident in the 1880's.

The Old Post Office

The building used for a Village Club was once a Reading Room.

Church Meadow Cottage is a 17th century two bay wood framed building.

The Manor Farm house.

The farm was one the largest in the village comprising 73 acres in 1597 and 183 acres in 1766.  Despite the name it was never a manor house. The earliest part is the left range which is late 16th century and the right wing was added about 1610. Apparently it is the most photographed house in the village.

There are still a few parts of the village to explore on a future visit. I left D collecting blackberries and went to have a look round the church.  Sadly, it was unexpectedly closed! But I did have a better look round the exterior and churchyard compared to our earlier visit so I will share (Less!!) photos in the next post.

All photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera.

I will publish some of D's photos in the next post,

I hope everyone is staying safe and well.


Church Guide to The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin Stoneleigh-in-Arden

Pevsner Buildings of England Warwickshire (latest edition)

Tales of Warwickshire by Betty Smith

Booklet - A Walk Round Stoneleigh looking at the Historic Buildings by Roger Gilbert (2008)