Church of St Chad
DATES OF MAIN PHASES, NAME OF ARCHITECT: Parish church of the C12 with C14-C15 north aisle, partially collapsed c1610, nave and new west tower built 1748. Restored 1904 by W.D Caröe.
MATERIALS: Freestone local red and grey sandstone, hand-moulded brick, tile roofs.
PLAN: Nave with lower and narrower chancel, north aisle, west tower.
EXTERIOR: The nave is Georgian with sawtooth brick eaves and steep roof. It has three large pointed windows in freestone surrounds, and stone south-east angle buttress. The three-stage tower has clasping buttresses with plain recessed panels, embattled parapet and stone corner pinnacles. Openings have freestone surrounds. The high segmental west doorway has a studded door. The south window has two round-headed lights with sunk spandrels to a square head. In the second stage are pointed south and west windows, and in the upper stage are two-light openings with Y-tracery and louvres, above clock faces.
The chancel is stone but has C18 brick sawtooth eaves. The south wall has a sill band carried over a priest's doorway. In the left-hand bay is a square-headed two-light window, above which is the head of an earlier square-headed window. In the right-hand bay is a three-light Perpendicular window. The round-headed east window with keystone is of 1748. The east wall of the aisle, which is level with the chancel east wall, has a similar but offset window. The aisle north wall has sawtooth brick eaves, and four three-light Perpendicular windows in groups of two either side of where the crossing tower stood. At the east end is a restored C18 segmental-headed doorway, and at the west end a blocked and half-glazed pointed doorway. The west window is similar to the east, below which is a blocked former doorway, possibly to a gallery. The west gable is brick. Rainwater heads are dated 1748.
INTERIOR: The C12 form of the church is clear from the interior. The east and north arches of the C12 crossing have survived. The east (now the chancel arch) has one order of nook shafts and scalloped capitals, and a frieze of arches on the label. The north arch has similar detail to the three bay north arcade, from which it is separated by a short section of wall. The arcade has round piers, scalloped capitals and double stepped arches (the westernmost bay was closed off by the building of the tower in 1748 and is only visible in the aisle). The nave roof, by W.D. Caröe, has two bracketed tie beams supporting narrower arched braces, the outer sides of which are infilled with open tracery. There are also subsidiary arched-brace trusses. The chancel roof has two cambered tie beams, crown posts with four-way bracing, to a canted boarded ceiling, and on a billet cornice. The aisle has an unrestored seven bay tie-beam roof with diagonal struts. In the north wall of the chancel is a segmental-pointed arch of excessive span, replacing a two bay arcade, but retaining C14 polygonal responds. A small piscina with basin has an C18 round head. Nave walls are plastered but chancel and aisle have exposed stone walls, revealing a blocked C14 chancel north window. Nave, aisle and tower have C20 tiles with parquet floors below benches, and the chancel floor is stone-paved.
PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The font is C17 Gothic, brought here in the late C19 from Christ Church in Stafford. The pulpit is Jacobean with steps and pedestal dating to its restoration in 1903. Nave benches and choir stalls have ends with two fielded panels. On the south side of the chancel is the Eld family box pew of c1748, which has fielded panels. The C17 communion rail has turned balusters. A Royal Arms over the chancel arch is dated 1856.
There are several impressive monuments. The Renaissance tomb chest with recumbent effigies of William Bower (d 1593) and his wife Mercy is in the north aisle, but not in its original position. On the north and west sides of the chest are figures including men in ruffs and a swaddled child. Above, on a corbel, is a stone roundel with armorial bearings. The opulence of this is in contrast to a simple wall tablet to Edward Bower (d 1652) which boasts Tuscan pilasters, but done in a rustic manner. In the chancel east wall is a wall monument to Francis Elde (d 1722), with Ionic pilasters, entablature and achievement. A large inscription tablet to the Eld family is surmounted by a tall two-dimensional obelisk commemorating Francis Eld (d 1777). There are also two Eld-family hatchments. There are fragments of medieval glass in tracery lights, and several late C19 and C20 stained-glass windows.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: The churchyard has several good-quality C18-C19 memorials, including the headstone of Elizabeth Tilsley (LBS no 444162).
HISTORY: Seighford was a substantial church in the late C12, with aisled nave and crossing tower. The chancel was extended in the C13 or C14. The north aisle was rebuilt in the C14 and extended to the length of the chancel in the C15. The crossing tower fell in 1610 and in 1722 the body of the church was described as `very ancient'. In 1748 the aisle and chancel were remodelled, and the nave and a new west tower (in the position of the first bay of the former nave) were built. The south aisle also disappeared at this time. Restoration of roofs and installation of new seating in 1904 was by W.D. Caröe (1857-1938), architect of London.
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Staffordshire, 1974, pp 232-33.
St Chad's Church Seighford, church guide, n.d.
Incorporated Church Building Society Archives.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The Church of St Chad, Seighford, is listed Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* It retains substantial C12 fabric, including crossing arches and nave arcade.
* For the C14-C15 fabric in the chancel and north aisle.
* For the historical interest of its C18 nave and tower.
* It has monuments of definite quality of the C16-C18.
* It has other interior fixtures of interest, including C17 communion rails, C18 family pew with hatchments, and pulpit of Jacobean origin.