24-OCT-50 CHURCH OF ST JOHN
Estate church of C12 with C18 and C19 additions, the latter of 1880 by A.W. Blomfield.
MATERIALS: Sandstone rubble, laid as regular courses to the C18 and C19 work, with freestone dressings, tile roofs.
PLAN: Nave with aisles incorporating organ chamber, chapel and family pew, west tower incorporating porch, lower chancel,
EXTERIOR: The chancel retains 2 small round-headed C12 south windows, one of them blocked, and 3-light Decorated east window. The nave retains a re-set window at the west end of the north wall. Blomfield additions are buttressed and have straight-headed and pointed 2-light and 3-light windows, including windows under gables, giving the impression of transepts. The 3-stage tower has diagonal buttresses in the lower 2 stages, and embattled parapet. It has a round-headed doorway with imposts and keystone, and in front of the door are iron gates with fleur-de-lis finials. The 2-light west window has Y-tracery and is the same date as a tablet below the sill, which commemorates the rebuilding of the church in 1880. Other windows are round-headed with impost and key blocks.
INTERIOR: Three-bay nave arcades are in Transitional style with round piers, waterleaf-type capitals to square abaci and chamfered pointed arches. The C14 style chancel arch has an inner order on corbels. The tall tower arch dates from 1880, as do the roofs. Nave and chancel have unceiled wagon roofs, the aisles arched-brace roofs. In the south aisle is a chapel at the east end and family pew at the west end. The family pew has a canted boarded ceiling. The chapel has a quadripartite vault on marble shafts with shaft rings. Walls are exposed stonework. Floors are black and white stonework.
PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The C12 tub font is plain. The polygonal wooden pulpit has 3 tiers of fielded panels. C17 panels are re-used for the chancel dado and the reading desk. The chapel is closed off by low iron screens with gates. The white-marble chapel reredos depicts the 3 Maries at the tomb, by J.E. Boehm (1881). Pews, including the elevated family pew, have ends with blind arcading in C17 style. Above the tower arch is a Victorian Royal arms. There are several wall monuments. The monument to Sir John Weld (d 1666) is attributed to William Stanton, and is framed by Corinthian columns and pediment with achievement. In the chancel the monument to George Weld (d 1748) is by Roger Eykyn of Wolverhampton, a panel surmounted by a sarcophagus and bracketed pediment. There are also 3 hatchments. In the porch is a figure of St John the Evangelist in a niche, above an inscription recording the restoration of 1880. The east window shows the Baptism of Christ by William Morris & Co (1933).
HISTORY: The parish church developed into the estate church of Willey Hall. The chancel and the west end of the nave are C12. The tower was rebuilt in 1712, probably at the expense of the Weld family. There had been a Weld family chapel in the C17, replaced by 1821 when Cecil Weld-Forester was created the first Lord Forester, then replaced again when aisles, and family pew and chapel were built in 1880 by Sir Arthur Blomfield (1829-99), at the expense of Lady Forester. The church was designed by one of the most active and successful church architects of the Gothic revival, Arthur William Blomfield (1829-99) who was the fourth son of Bishop Charles J Blomfield of London (bishop 1828-56). He was articled to P.C. Hardwick and began independent practice in 1856 in London. His early work is characterised by a strong muscular quality and the use of structural polychrome often with continental influences. He became diocesan architect to Winchester, hence a large number of church-building commissions throughout the diocese. He was also architect to the Bank of England from 1883. Blomfield was knighted in 1889 and was awarded the RIBA's Royal Gold Medal in 1891. The church is now redundant, and in the charge of the Willey Hall Estate.
J. Newman and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Shropshire, 2006, p 703.
VCH, Shropshire, x, p 459.
Rev. L.F Peltor, `The Parishes of Willey and Barrow, Shropshire' (1966).
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The church of St John, Willey, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* It retains early fabric of a C12 estate church.
* It has an early C18 tower retaining original character.
* It has interior features of special interest, including monuments of C17 and C18, and C17 woodwork.
* Enlargement of 1880 includes well-preserved family pew and memorial chapel.
* Its intimate connection with Willey Hall and it successive owners is reflected in a sequence of monuments and fixtures.