603/1/1 CHURCH OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST
DATES OF MAIN PHASES, NAME OF ARCHITECT: C12 church restored 1866 by Habershon & Pite, north aisle added 1879.
MATERIALS: Local grey sandstone, tile roofs, with slate roof to vestry.
PLAN: Nave with chancel, which has a higher ridge line, west tower, north aisle and north-east vestry.
EXTERIOR: The 3-stage tower is C13 but has C15 bell stage details and embattled parapet. It has angle buttresses and string courses. The steeply pointed west doorway has a simple impost band and in the south wall is a pointed window. The middle stage has a segmental-pointed south window and 2-light Perpendicular bell openings have louvres. The nave has diagonal south-west buttress and C12 south-east angle pilaster strip. The C12 doorway has nook shafts and chevron ornament, and weathered billet frieze on the label. There are 2-light Perpendicular and Decorated windows. On the north side of the tower there is a single truncated pilaster strip in the nave west wall. The buttressed 3-bay north aisle, using older masonry, has a blocked C12 north doorway which has nook shafts, scalloped capitals and weathered arch with chevrons. Windows are 2-light Decorated and Perpendicular. The chancel has pilaster strips and buttresses in north and south walls. The south wall also has a round-headed window on the left side above the untidy infilling of a C12 doorway (more clearly visible inside), and a later pointed doorway, possibly to a private pew. There are two 2-light Decorated north and south windows and 3-light Perpendicular east window. The lean-to vestry is set back from the north aisle, and above it is an eaves stone stack.
INTERIOR: The restored tower arch, low and wide, has 2 orders of continuous chamfer, and beneath the ridge is a 2-light former belfry window. The north arcade has round piers and double-chamfered arches. The C19 chancel arch has nook shafts with scalloped capitals, chevrons in the arch and billet frieze to the label, modelled on the doorways. The nave has a 4-bay queen-post roof, raised in 1781, with raked struts, on corbelled brackets. The aisle has a tie-beam roof with posts and diagonal struts. The chancel 5-bay roof has arched-brace trusses strengthened with tie beam, crown post and diagonal struts. In the south wall is a cusped piscina and corbels flanking the south door. Walls are ashlar faced, with older freestone masonry in the chancel where a blocked round-headed south doorway is visible. Floors are red and black tiles, raised wood floors are beneath pews, and encaustic tiles in the sanctuary are by Maw & Co.
PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The principal fixtures of interest are the funeral monuments in the chancel. In the north wall of the chancel is the Early Renaissance tomb of Walter Devereux (d 1558) and his wives Mary (d 1537) and Margaret. There are 3 recumbent effigies on a tomb chest, decorated with balusters and pairs of Jocular mourners in contemporary dress. Behind is a Tudor arch and armorial bearings. A mid C16 alabaster grave slab, formerly at the foot of the Devereux tomb, is to Henry Devereux, and has an incised effigy. Above it is a brass plaque to Thomas Newport (d 1587). A pair of elegant classical wall tablets are by Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944), to General Sir Walter Congreve (d 1927), governor of Malta, and William Congreve VC (d 1916 in the Battle of the Somme). They are of white marble with green and orange marble borders respectively, and have broken pediments with achievements in a C17 revival manner. The C19 octagonal font is Perpendicular style. The plain benches have shaped ends. Choir stalls have poppy heads with blind trefoil arcading to the frontals. The pulpit is polygonal with cusped blind arches. A reredos of Caen stone shows the Last Supper. It is flanked by tile panels attributed to Minton. In the chancel east wall is a Royal Arms of 1784 painted on board, and in the tower base are two benefaction boards, one dated 1795. The east window, by Camm of Smethwick, shows the Transfiguration (1926). The nave south window, showing the baptism of Christ, is by Wippell & Co (1953).
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: In the churchyard is the base of a medieval churchyard cross (LBS no 444415).
HISTORY: Built in the mid C12 by the Earl of Chester, of which the plan dimensions of nave and chancel have been maintained. The tower was added in the C13, heightened or rebuilt in the C15. Nave and chancel windows are C14 and C15. The nave roof was raised in 1781 to accommodate a west gallery. In 1866 the chancel was restored by W.G. Habershon (1818-92) and A.R. Pite (1832-1911), architects of London, who added the north vestry. In 1879 the north aisle was added, possibly by the same firm, using the materials from the dismantled nave north wall. Chancel and nave furnishings date mainly from 1866 and 1879 respectively.
H.S.K. Sainsbury, St John the Baptist Church, Stowe-by-Chartley, 2005.
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Staffordshire, 1974, pp 269-70.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The church of St John the Baptist, Stowe-by-Chartley, is listed Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* For the extent of its C12 fabric, including pilaster strips and doorways.
* For the extent of its later medieval fabric, including a fine tower.
* It has high-quality funeral monuments of the C16, and of the early C20 by Lutyens.