A History of Stanton's Church
The Church of St. Michael and All Angels
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From Ninth Century to Modern Times
A Brief Timeline
It seems possible that a Saxon church on the present site was served in early times by the monks of Winchcombe Benedictine Abbey, as the Manor, tithes and patronage of Stanton were bestowed on the Abbey by Kenulf, King of Mercia in 811 CE. Unfortunately, most records were destroyed in the disastrous fire at Winchcombe Benedictine Abbey in 1151 CE.
The church's earliest architectural features are its three Norman (c. 1200 CE) pillars, forming the north arcade of the nave. There was once a central tower at the crossing. It is presumed that the prevailing south-westerly winds flushed out the mortar of the pointing on the south and west faces and the tower collapsed in that direction, crushing the South arcade as it did so. The south arcade of the nave was subsequently rebuilt in early English style with pointed arches. The nave was lengthened by one whole bay and a new tower, far better built of cut stone, placed safely at the west end.
The aisle arcade on the north side of the nave consists of two Norman arches (12th C.), a modern bay copying the Norman style, and a pointed arch added in the 15th century. The transepts date from the 13th Century. The nave was extended westwards, and the south aisle, porch, tower and spire were added in the 15th Century.
In the North transept are the remains of the old screen, two aumbries and a passage squint leading to the nave and sanctuary. Such passage squints are rare. The window is early Decorated, and on the same wall are traces of wall paintings representing the Presentation and Purification.
The Gothic pulpit (c. 1375 CE), now used as a lectern, is interesting, because it was unusual for the clergy to preach from a pulpit in church at that time, the village cross being used for that purpose. The present pulpit is 17th Century (restored). The brass candle holders are modern, made and presented by a member of the congregation. The rood screen, the two outer lights in the East window — and the stone Cross in the churchyard — are all by Sir Ninian Comper, commemorating casualties of the First World War.
The reredos, also by Comper, dates from 1915 CE. The alabaster figures represent the Virgin Mary, St. Peter, St. Michael and St. Barnabas (Patron Saint of Snowshill).
The shields of arms are those of the Rev. M. B. H. Burland (a former rector), Winchcombe Abbey, the Diocese of Worcester, Sir Philip Stott Bart., (the Patron at the time), the Rev. T. W. Reynolds (a former rector) and the Diocese of Gloucester.
The upper sections of the East window contain fragments of old glass, thought to be from Hailes Abbey. The inner lights show Apostles, under tabernacled canopies, in which angels look out of the windows. In the South transept is another squint, not "full passage," a piscina, another aumbry and more traces of the 15th C. glass in the South window. Visitors can see for themselves the dates of the two charming windows in the East walls of the two transepts. They also are by Comper, and bear his strawberry plant device.
The two windows in the South wall explain themselves. Low down on this wall, on the left of the doorway, are remains of stone benches, dating from the time when it was customary for the people to stand when not kneeling. These benches were used by the aged and infirm, hence the expression "the weakest go to the wall."
The West window is 15th Century. It has a double transom, and two rows of Perpendicular lights above the main lights. The small piece of old glass shows the white rose of York, and suggests a date about 1480 CE. This window was copied in the modern reconstructions in the south wall.
At the north-west end of the nave, several bench ends are deeply ringed by the dog-chains of the sheepdogs, brought by their masters to church.