St Gregory, Offchurch, Warwickshire

Feature Sets (3)

Description

A small church sited on a hill above the village. It has an aisleless Romanesque nave with recut windows. Romanesque sculpture is found on the N doorway, on the chancel arch and on some chancel windows. Grey stone with some red; of rubble except for the grey ashlar late medieval tower.

History

According to Dugdale, Offchurch '... hath been a town of no small note in the Saxons times' and he links the name of the village with King Offa. An Anglo-Saxon cemetery was found S of the church in the 19thc. The church was appropriated to Coventry Priory in 1261.

Features

Exterior Features

Doorways

N doorway, nave

Round-headed, of two orders.

Dimensions
h. of bases incl. torus moulding 0.21 m
h. of bases without torus moulding 0.18 m
h. of opening 2.37 m
w. of opening 1.01 m
First order

Plain jambs and arch, plain chamfered impost block.

Second order

Nook shafts on reversed cushion bases with deep shields, mounted on slabs over recent rough stonework. Plain neckings, carved cushion capitals (see below) and chamfered impost blocks continuous with first order but with chip-carved stars and saltires forming a diaper pattern on the face (the E and W ends are plain).

L capital: mutilated, but with vestiges of spiral decoration as R capital.

R capital: shallow incised spirals on the shields, the scrolls addorsed (but not touching) at the angles; the surface of the shields between the coils is depressed slightly. The surfaces of the blocks on the walls adjacent to the capitals are carved with chip-carved saltires, four on the squarish block at L, six on the oblong block to R.

Fat nook roll in the arch, secured by a clamp at R, inside a diaper pattern on the face, formed of various chip-carved motifs as follows, from L to R: two rows of saltires; two rows of saltires then the stone broken, but incorporating a half-height fragment bearing an eight-pointed star; two rows of saltires; two superimposed saltires then a single one, the latter forming part of an eight-pointed star, with a second eight-pointed star to R; keystone with two saltires with pellets in the armpits then a wheel with pellets between the spokes; a single row of five saltires, radially set; a panel of saltires and intersecting lines, forming a complex, irregular pattern; a single row of four radially set saltires with pellets in the armpits.

Windows

Chancel, N wall, E end

Similar to (i) except that the arcuated lintel is carved from a regular block, with a vertical crack. Twin cable moulding on a recessed ground on the face of the arch, outside an angle-roll, and a disc composed of three concentric grooves in each spandrel. The blocks appear to be less weathered than most of the surrounding stonework.

Chancel, N wall, W end

Similar to (ii) but smaller, with a single row of fine cable moulding on a recessed ground on the face of the arch. Concentric circles in spandrels, as (ii). The blocks appear to be less weathered than most of the surrounding stonework.

Dimensions
h. of opening c.0.83 m
w. of opening 0.25 m

Chancel, S wall, W end

Narrow round-headed light with plain jambs and an irregularly shaped arcuated lintel with slightly convex face, carved with a serpent, the body of which follows the contour of the window-head, with a U-shaped neck at R, the head inclined slightly backwards, and a spiral tail. Weathered.

Dimensions
h. of opening 1.43 m
w. of opening 0.40 m

Exterior Decoration

Miscellaneous

Reset fragment

Set into the N wall is a roughly rectangular block of dark reddish stone with indistinct curvilinear carving.

Interior Features

Arches

Chancel arch/Apse arches

Chancel arch

One order to each face, with later pointed arch.

Dimensions
N base:
h. incl. torus moulding 0.19 m
h. without torus moulding 0.16 m
w. 0.175 m
N capital:
h. incl. necking 0.185 m
h. without necking 0.16 m
First order, E face

Plain, except for chip-carved impost block which continues to the W face, the first stone at L carved with one large saltire with central quatrefoil, then a wavy line.

First order, W face

L nook shaft on reversed cushion base with angle tuck; R nook shaft on chamfered plinth. Plain neckings, cushion capitals with angle tucks and chamfered impost blocks with a diaper pattern on the face formed of two rows of chip-carved saltires and stars, some with curved ridges in the armpits.

Comments/Opinions

The S side of the chancel arch is tilted some 6 degrees to S. The VCH states that it collapsed and had to be reconstructed, 'apparently in the 14thc.' There has been some restoration of the friezes of the chancel arch: a stone on the S face of the N side impost block is of a grey material, and is thought to be a concentrated cement mix with the features impressed rather than carved. The same colour is found for patching part of the chamfer beneath.

The N side windows, para. III.4 (ii) and (iii) above, are less weathered than would be expected. The VCH suggests that the circles of window (ii) were cut in 1866, and the church guide states that during 1866/7 when the chancel was almost entirely rebuilt, 'the heads of two round-headed windows were found ... and reset in the north and south walls'. The serpent moulding of window (i) has a more authentic appearance.

Bibliography

  • VCH. 6:196
  • Offchurch, St Gregory, church guide, 1977
  • Pevsner and Wedgewood, 368

Location

Site Location
Offchurch
National Grid Reference
SP 358 657 
Boundaries
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Warwickshire
now: Warwickshire
Diocese
medieval: Worcester
now: Coventry
Dedication
now: St Gregory
medieval: not confirmed
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Harry Sunley