Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Alcester Churches

St Mary and All Saints, Haselor
Haselor is a small village on the banks of the River Alne, a mile and a half of the main Stratford to Alcester road.

The church is approached from a path in the village.

To the right of the path is what is thought to be the base of the original village cross destroyed during the Reformation. It is not in its original position but is thought to be close to it.

The church stands on a hill overlooking the village. It comprises, nave, chancel,  south aisle and a low tower. The guide book suggests that this was probably a site of pagan worship that was Christianised (as is often the case of hill top churches).

The present building is dated to after the Norman Conquest. The font is Norman, said to be carved from a single block of coolite from the Cotswolds in the 11th century. 

St Mary the Virgin, Kinwarton
Kinwarton is a small settlement north east of Alcester in the Alne Valley. The church dates from the 13th century but was substantially rebuilt in the mid 19th century by the Rev Seymour.
In the churchyard, close to the entrance gate is a Preaching Cross, thought to date from the late 11th century. It now forms part of a more modern memorial to the Rev Seymour’s wife, Fanny.  They were normally sited on a main highway as a place where preaching took place. It has a Celtic knot carved on three faces.

The church is quite small, seating about 60. Records show it was built in 1291 and consecrated in July 1316 by the Bishop of Worcester. Rev Richard Seymour carried out extensive rebuilding in 1850.

The font is thought to be as old as the building. The lid has staples and a special mechanism to enable it to be padlocked to deter thieves. They would have been after the holy water which was left in the font between baptisms but was also sought for sinister purposes especially witchcraft.

The south chancel window contains medieval glass from the 14th century. The Virgin Mary holds the infant Jesus in one arm and a lily in the other. The fleur de lys and colour blue are also symbolic.

The window in the north chancel wall is late Victorian from the Kempe studio and commemorates Rev Seymour who was rector at St Mary’s for 42 years and later became a Canon of Worcester Cathedral.

Two other notable features are a wooden window frame which is rare in a church building. It is made of oak and is thought to have replaced an earlier 14th century stone window frame.
The bronze plaque commemorates the crew of a Wellington Bomber, killed in 1944. Kenneth Wakefield, the pilot, had married the daughter of the then Rector of Kinwarton at the outbreak of the war.

In a field adjacent to the church is a Dovecote, looked after by the National Trust. 

This is a rare example of a 14th century circular dovecote with 1m thick walls and inside hundreds of nesting holes. It also has the original rotating ladder.