648/14/212 CHURCH OF ST MICHAEL
DATES OF MAIN PHASES, NAME OF ARCHITECT:
Parish church of C12-C15, restored 1861-62 by G.G. Scott.
MATERIALS: Freestone and rubble limestone, tile roofs.
PLAN: Nave with lower chancel, embraced west tower, north vestry.
EXTERIOR: The Perpendicular 3-stage west tower has angle buttresses in the lower stage, embattled parapet and pinnacles. The west doorway has weathered head stops, and later Gothic ribbed door. Above is a 2-light west window, clock in the 2nd stage west face, with sundial on the south face, and 2-light square-headed belfry openings with louvres. The nave shows signs of major rebuilding, and has a plinth band beneath the tower. North and south walls have square-headed 2-light and 3-light windows, and in the south wall is an additional 2-light square-headed C15 window at the west end. The chancel has large buttresses, 3-light Decorated east window, 2-light south and north windows. The south side has an ashlar projection housing the organ.
INTERIOR: In the tower base are pointed north and south arches, and plastered pointed arch to the nave. Simple imposts suggest a C12 date but they have been altered and plastered over, making them difficult to interpret. The nave has a C14 cradle roof. The chancel arch has an inner order on corbels, and outer order on attached half shafts. The chancel has a trussed-rafter roof. In the north wall is a priest¿s doorway, formerly external, with internal drawbar socket, and head stops. Nave walls are plastered, with boarded wainscot. Chancel walls have been stripped to expose stonework, but there is a re-set C14 ogee-headed piscina on the south side of the east wall, of which the projecting part of the basin is missing. Floors are flagstones and old grave slabs, with raised wooden floors below benches.
PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The Perpendicular font has quatrefoils around the bowl and octagonal stem. Benches of late C16 or C17 have plain square-headed ends, some with reed-moulding. The Gothic panelled polygonal pulpit is by Scott, as are the choir stalls, which have shaped ends and moulded backs (incorporating Jacobean panels). The communion rail is on iron standards with scrollwork brackets. Stained glass is mainly by Clayton & Bell (1891-1906). A semi-abstract millennium window in the north nave wall is by Nicola Hopwood of Brockhampton (2000). The tower south window shows SS Francis and George by Reginald Bell (1936).
HISTORY: The core of the nave is early Norman, and the arches at the tower base may be of the same date, but the present tower is Perpendicular. Upper parts of the nave walls are C14. The church was restored in 1861-62 by George Gilbert Scott (1811-78), the most successful church architect of his time and a prolific restorer of medieval churches. He rebuilt the chancel and renewed nave windows. The north vestry and the tall chancel arch are by John Cotton, of 1885, and the organ projection was added in 1890.
A. Brooks and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Worcestershire, 2007, pp 322-23.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The church of St Michael, Great Comberton, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* It is a small aisleless medieval church with well-preserved tower.
* It retains a C14 cradle roof in the nave.
* It has fixtures of interest including C16-C17 benches.