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Church of St Mary

A Grade I Listed Building in Pershore, Worcestershire

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Latitude: 52.0674 / 52°4'2"N

Longitude: -2.0278 / 2°1'39"W

OS Eastings: 398192

OS Northings: 241008

OS Grid: SO981410

Mapcode National: GBR 2K8.B58

Mapcode Global: VHB0Y.S9VF

Plus Code: 9C4V3X8C+XV

Entry Name: Church of St Mary

Listing Date: 11 February 1965

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1116640

English Heritage Legacy ID: 442996

Location: Elmley Castle, Wychavon, Worcestershire, WR10

County: Worcestershire

District: Wychavon

Civil Parish: Elmley Castle

Built-Up Area: Elmley Castle

Traditional County: Worcestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Worcestershire

Church of England Parish: Elmley Castle with Netherton, Bricklehampton, Gt Combrton and Lt Comberton

Church of England Diocese: Worcester

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Church. C11-C17, but complex dating and development. Some herringbone masonry in the north and south walls of the chancel suggests pre 1100 origins and Pevsner argues that the masonry of the south arcade might be Saxon. C13 base to tower, south aisle and first phase of north transept c. mid C14; C15 north aisle and upper stage of tower and west window and west doorway of tower. North transept heightened and re-windowed in the C16, some documented work of the C17. Chancel restored in 1862 (Pevsner), all internal plaster removed in 1878 when the nave roof was replaced and north wall rebuilt. Mostly stone rubble, the south aisle snecked masonry; the upper stage of the tower mostly ashlar masonry; tiled roofs to nave chancel and north aisle; lead roof to south aisle. Plan of nave, chancel, north and south aisles, north transept and west tower.

EXTERIOR: embattled north aisle, porch and transept. Square-headed Perpendicular style windows to north side. Large five-light window in east side of transept blocked to accommodate monument inside. The chancel has two-light Decorated windows in the north side and a blocked north east doorway; C19 Decorated style east window. The south side has a mixture of square-headed and arched traceried windows: Pevsner notes date of 1629 on south wall. Substantial low three-stage tower with embattled parapet, blocked lancet on south wall and two-light belfry openings. The C16 porch has a good early C17 external door.

INTERIOR: C19 chancel arch on carved corbels. The chancel has an elliptical C19 boarded roof with a brattished wall plate, divided into panels by moulded ribs. The south arcade is something of a puzzle, with an octagonal C14 pier but the remaining arches dying into square section piers. Pevsner suggests that the square section piers represent the remains of the north wall of an aisleless church and may suggest Saxon proportions with a long nave and chancel, unless they are associated with what seems to have been a C17 building phase on the south side. C15 north arcade with octagonal piers with follow-chamfered capitals. C19 common rafter nave roof with tie beams and iron ties from ridge to tie beam. Lean-to aisle roofs on moulded corbels. Tower ceiling of moulded C15 beams.

The interior has several outstanding features. The two-phase font has a C12 or C13 cylindrical stem with remarkable integral serpentine beasts, one with a beakhead, sculpted around the base. The octagonal bowl is Perpendicular with carved panels of religious and secular symbols. Outstanding set of late C15 or early C16 benches with moulded cornices to the backs and the tops of the ends, which are uncarved. The seats have been widened but otherwise many of the benches are completely intact. Integral panelling on the south wall has disappeared, but the rail to which it was attached survives.

There are two remarkable monuments, described by Pevsner as 'amongst the best of their dates in the county', among several of interest in the church. In the north transept there are three alabaster effigies of members of the Savage family, d.1616, 1631 and 1674, on a panelled chest with supporters at their feet and four kneeling figures at their feet. The figures are in unusually good condition with gilded detail on the costumes. The helmet and unicorn's head used at the funeral of Sir Giles (d.1631) are attached to the wall above. On the east wall of the transept is a major wall monument to the first Earl of Coventry, d. 1699, signed by William Standon. It was intended for the church at Croome d'Abitot but erected here after a family dispute. It is a high quality monument including a white marble figure of the earl reclining on a deep chest in front of a lengthy inscription and under an arch crowned with armorial bearings. Large sub-figures flank the chest and the armorial bearings.Other fittings include C19 polygonal timber pulpit with delicate blind traceried sides.

Ancient stained glass includes fragments in the south transept and the chancel which has late medieval or C16 Royal Arms. East window of 1878, presumed by Pevsner to be by Powell.

This is a medieval church outstanding on many different counts: some probably pre-1100 fabric; remarkable two-phase medieval font; a very complete set of late medieval benches and two of the best C17 and C18 monuments in the county.

Pevsner, Worcestershire, 1968, 143;
Saint Mary's Church Elmley Castle: Official Guide, n.d.

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