Offchurch Village
Offchurch Village

About St. Gregory's Church

The parish church of St. Gregory’s stands on the crest of the hill above the village.  It consists of chancel with north vestry, nave with south porch, and west tower, and is built of the local red sandstone.

 

The nave dates from the early part of the 12th century; owing to the failure of the foundations the chancel arch, of which the piers are badly out of the perpendicular, collapsed and had to be reconstructed, apparently in the 14th century, with the addition of buttresses on the south and, probably, north.

 

The chancel seems to have been partly rebuilt at the same time and perhaps lengthened, and a south porch erected.  In the 15th century the tower was erected. Late in the 16th century the roof of the nave was reconstructed at a lower pitch, and it may have been at this time that the clumsy and very massive buttress on the north side, overlapping the north door, was built.

 

In the 18th century, square-headed two-light windows were cut in the side walls of the nave, immediately under the eaves, probably to light galleries.  In 1866 the chancel was almost entirely rebuilt, in the course of which operation there were found in the wall parts of a stone coffin (now outside the north wall of the nave) and the heads of two small round-headed windows, which were set in the north and south walls when rebuilt.   A combined vestry and organ-chamber was built on the north of the chancel in 1898. (http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/warks/vol6/pp194-198)

The Porch built around 1200 rests on a stone of even greater antiquity in which is carved an interesting figure of a serpent. 

 

The interior archway of the North Door, straight ahead of you as you enter the church, is characteristic of Saxon architecture, whilst the external arch (shown left) represents a remarkably well preserved example of Norman craftsmanship. 

 

The Tower, constructed with blue-grey Warwick stone, dates from the 15th century. It houses six bells which are used week by week (the two earliest date from 1450), and a working turret clock (1700). The external north wall of the tower is pitted with marks made by musket balls fired by Cromwellian troops during The Civil War. Above the marks, is a recently installed, faithfully reproduced, sundial. 

 

An intriguing pattern of grooves in the west wall of the porch was made by archers of Cromwell’s army sharpening their arrows.

 

The Nave has survived the effects of considerable subsidence over nine centuries, requiring the addition of eight external buttresses. The roof, dating from 1592, was a replacement for the original that was considered too heavy for the supporting walls. In the north-east corner of the nave can be seen pieces of a Saxon stone coffin which is claimed, by some, to be that of King Offa’s son, Fremund.

 

The Chancel was almost entirely rebuilt in 1866, although several 12th century features still remain: a priest’s door and “leper window” in the south wall, as well as two Saxon windows, one of which carries the carved image of a serpent. The Chancel Arch, which was rebuilt in the mid 14th century, remains in an alarmingly (but safe) non-vertical position. The Sanctuary houses a piscina (stone sink), an aumbry (alcove) and a sedile (priest’s seat). 

 

The East Window, portraying the resurrection of Christ, is a fine example of Victorian stained glass and, like most of the other windows, is a memorial to members of notable Offchurch families. The exception is the Millennium Window which was installed to mark the turn of the 21st century and has become one of the most admired features of our continually developing church.

 

No visit to St Gregory’s is complete without a walk around our prize-winning churchyard. Designated “A Sanctuary for Wildlife”, it is a haven for a host of native birds, small creatures and wild flowers.

 

Over 200 graves can be found in the graveyard, and the war memorial stands as a tribute to local people whose lives were taken in two World Wars.

Print Print | Sitemap
© Offchurch Village