Church of St. Mary the Virgin
Church. Nave built 1343 as the chancel of a collegiate church for Sir Thomas
Astley of Astley Castle. Chancel and tower built 1608 for Richard Chamberlaine
who re-established the building as a parish church; small C17 porch. Nave of
coursed squared and tower of regular coursed red sandstone; chancel of regular
coursed grey sandstone. Nave is largely rendered. Porch is timber-framed with
rendered infill. Nave has plain-tile roof; chancel has slate roof. Chancel,
nave, west tower, south porch. Decorated style nave, late Perpendicular style
chancel and tower. 2-bay chancel, 3-bay nave. Low chancel has datestone 1608
below cornice on south side. Moulded plinth and diagonal and side buttresses of
2 offsets. 3-light windows have panel tracery and transoms, deep hollow and
roll-moulded jambs, and hood moulds. Large east window has carved stops, a
shield panel with cornice to left and right of hood mould, and a shield with
hood mould above. Large shaped panels to left and right. Angles have short
section of cornice. 2 stones in top left corner have initials RM and RC. Very
shallow gable. North and south sides have blind western windows of c.1800 with
cusped Y-tracery, rendered infill and remains of carved stops. Eastern windows
have return stops. Moulded sill course, and cornice with frieze of shields,
Tudor flower, etc. Parapet has 8 pierced trefoiled arches. North side has
blocked Tudor-arched doorway below eastern window. Nave has enormous blocked
7-light C15 Perpendicular window, with panel tracery and rendered infill, in
moulded ogee arch with fleurons and finial. Blocked C14 rose window above.
Crocketed gable parapet. North and south sides have splay plinth and moulded
sill course, and diagonal and other buttresses of 2 cusped gableted offsets with
carved heads; diagonal buttresses retain crocketed pinnacles. Open-fronted south
porch below central window has moulded stone doorway and C19 ribbed door inside.
Blocked north doorway below central window formerly led to collegiate buildings.
North-west buttress has outer section with blocked arch. Large 3-light windows
have flowing tracery of 2 alternating patterns in moulded ogee arches with
finials and hood moulds with return stops. Moulded cornice and corbel table with
ballflower, shields and Tudor flower. Tower of 4 stages has splay plinth and
courses between each stage. Clustered diagonal, north and south buttresses of 4
offsets, with a shield to the first offset. First stage is lower to west than to
other sides. Double-leaf doors in low moulded 4-centred doorway with hood mould,
and 2 pieces of foliage carving above. Second stage has mullioned window of 3
round-arched lights with drip mould. Third stage has 3-light window with panel
tracery and transom, with paired shields of arms at springing, and shield panels
to left and right. Fourth stage has straight-headed bell-chamber opening of 3
trefoiled lights with transom and louvres. Embattled parapet has angle and
central crocketed pinnacles. North side is largely similar but has
straight-headed triple-chamfered window of 2 trefoiled lights to second stage.
South side is similar, but has clock face to fourth stage. Interior is
plastered. Chancel has 3-bay 4-centred plaster barrel vault; the Gothick blind
tracery is probably of c.1800, but that of the arches between each bay and the
moulded cornice with foliage corbels are probably early C17. Former east window
has blocked panel tracery, and moulded 4-centred chancel arch with hood mould
pierced through it. To the nave the former window has a moulded arch and finial,
hood mould with head stops, and flanking canopied niches on head corbels. Nave
has C17 wood-panelled ceiling with moulded ribs and carved bosses of coats of
arms, mostly replaced with the arms of the Newdigates after 1676. Inner panels
have shields. Blocked north doorway has moulded ogee arch with fleurons and head
finial. Windows have ogee arches with finials and hood moulds with head stops.
Tower arch of 3 moulded orders has hood mould with head stop to north. C19 arch
inserted inside tower has glazed screen above. C19 wall west of this has
double-leaf doors in moulded doorway, and glazed screen above. Fittings: early
C17 altar table. Wrought-iron communion rail of c.1700. C19 chancel stalls.
Pulpit and reading desk made up from late C17/early C18 carved and fielded
panels. Nave has set of stalls of c.1400, of 8 bays and one-bay returns.
Canopies have cinqfoiled round arches and slender shafts with shaft-rings. The
backs have contemporary paintings of the Apostles and Prophets, considerably
over-painted, and painted friezes. The seats have misericords carved with
foliage, a dog, a pig, a women's head, a lion, etc. C17 nave panelling.
Octagonal font has moulded base and capital. C19 oil lamps. Stained glass: C14
and C15 pieces in chancel windows and nave tracery. Wall paintings: numerous
early C17 text panels have elaborate painted surrounds; those flanking the east
window were probably re-painted early C19. Monuments: chancel east wall: left:
John Newdegate 1666. Black marble convex oval panel and white marble wreath with
winged head and skull and cross bones. Right: GUIL WYAT STB 1685.
Horizontally-set convex cartouche. North wall: Mary Conyers 1797. Panel with
cornice. South wall: Frances 1809 and Francis Newdegate 1835. Open book in plain
frame with cornice and apron, and sarcophagus with coat of arms. Tower: 3
alabaster effigies put together: Sir Edward Grey, Lord Ferrers 1457; Elizabeth
Grey, Lady Lisle c.1483; Cecily Grey(?), Marchioness of Dorset c.1530. Part of a
brass of a lady c.1400.
(Buildings of England: Warwickshire: pp74-75; VCH: Warwickshire: Vol VI,
Listing NGR: SP3110589431