The church, of local red sandstone, comprises W tower, nave with N and S aisles and chancel and is essentially Perpendicular, with Tudor additions. It was restored in 1864, and two transepts and a S chapel were added. The reset W doorway, set in the tower, comprises mainly 12thc. carved stones and mouldings.
The first mention of the church is in Pope Nicholas' taxation of 1291 (Victoria Country History), although there is an earlier reference to a parson in 1285 (Registers of Godfrey Giffard, Bishop of Worcester). The church is included among the appropriated churches of Kenilworth Priory (VCH Vol II, p.142). The present church, however, is not earlier than the mid-fourteenth century.
The Abbey was dissolved in 1538, and the site, after passing through various hands, came into the possession of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. An entry in the Kenilworth Churchwardens Accounts states that in 1619/20, 40 shillings and 8 pence were paid for 'unsealing ye Church Dore when ye Kinge was heare'. Further, from the same source, at about this time, wooden planks were bought for the door, and the belfry floor above.
Round-headed, of three orders, the doorway is set in a rectangular carved frame, with roundels in its spandrels. It is set slightly to the S of centre in the W face of the tower. Like the adjacent ashlar, the stone-work is lightly peppered with shot marks, traditionally said to be from the Civil War. The doorway is of local red sandstone, except for two stones of a paler colour.
|max h. of frame||3.80 m|
|max w. of frame||4.10 m|
|rectangular panels (17) ?h.||0.20 m|
|rectangular panels (17) ?w.||0.28 m|
|rectangular panels (4-11) ?h.||0.22 m|
|rectangular panels (4-11)?w.||0.18 m|
|square panels h.||0.20 m|
|square panels w.||0.20 m|
|d. of shaft||0.15 m|
|h. including necking||0.15 m|
|h. without necking||0.12 m|
|max. w. N/S face||0.20 m|
|max. w. W face||0.20 m|
|h. of opening||2.59 m|
|w. of opening||1.77 m|
No bases, angle roll on the jambs followed by two small rolls on the face. No capitals, slightly chamfered imposts with a row of pellets along the chamfer and a fillet along the upright. The arch mouldings continue from the jambs, with a wedge following the two small rolls.
The rectangular frame surrounding the doorway consists of three elements: an inner border, chamfered on the inner edge with fluted "jelly mould" bosses on the chamfer, badly eroded and depleted locally, and an outer hollow face; an outer border of cable (anti-clockwise in ascension on all except the horizontal members of the upper L and R corners, where the rotation is reversed). There are two distinctive types of cable twist: five mouldings have a pitch of 0.13 m and twelve with 0.095 m. Between these, a band of rectangular and square panels, like tiles, carved on the same blocks as the inner order. There are four basic panel designs:
A. Squared octofoil with plain central boss.
B. Squared decafoil with plain central boss.
D. Irregular designs, detailed below.
This band comprises 25 blocks, each carved with up to four panels, as follows:
The four panels on block 10 contain:
(i) a large single loop to the L joined to three small loops containing beading on the R.
(ii) A four-armed star with beads in the four arms.
(iii)An octofoil with mouchette lobes.
(iv) A geometrical design, symmetrical on its vertical axis, with a fanned lower portion. Block 18 is of whiter material, probably a sandstone, badly eroded, and contains the remains of an octofoil, with hollow center.
In the spandrels are two similar symmetrically set paterae with three recessed orders of carving. The R patera is carved on a single square block: the L, on two blocks. The inner order is a plain ring, the second has lobed arcs (8 on L, 9 on R), the third is a ring of beads, (29 on L, 27 on R). The paterae are set in the spandrels by roughly cut blocks of sandstone, one of the white colour, noted above.
The frame is bisected horizontally by the continuation of the imposts of the doorway to the N and S, forming a string course which stops at the outer edge of the frame, but is missing between the inner and outer capitals, the space between being occupied by smoothed rubble-stone.
Detached nook shafts with bases hidden below pavement level carry multi-scallop capitals with plain necking,
L capital: with sheathing on the S face and plain wedges between the scallops on the W face.
R capital: as R capital
The imposts are as the first order.
In the arch there are 19 beakheads of varied animal designs. The angle rolls of the voussoirs are of two statistically different widths at the outer periphery (0.211 and 0.189 m) and similiarly at the inner periphery (182 and 0.169 m). Voussoir ten (from L) has been heavily cut back. There are three distinct types:
Type A: cat-mask with extended ears and projecting tongue.
Type B: beastlike, with furrows between pointed ears and a beak, the latter usually ridged.
Type C: similar to B, brow unfurrowed.
1. In fair condition, with hair, continuous ridged beak and expressed oval slanting eyes. Type B.
2. Slightly damaged, with hair, continuous beak and expressed oval eyes. Type B.
3. Badly damaged on R, with hair and continuous slim ridged beak. Type B.
4. Damaged on beak, with a continuous ridged beak and round pellet-like eyes. Type C.
5. In good condition with a continuous ridged anteater-like beak and round pellet-like eyes. Type C.
6. The upper part of the head is missing. It has the remains of extended ears and slim ridged discrete beak. Type C?
7. In good condition with snout, projecting tongue over a billet and oval lidded, slanting eyes. Type A.
8. Similar to 7., damaged , with projecting tongue over a billet and oval lidded eyes. Type A.
9. Damaged on the R, with continuous ridged beak and lidded round pellet-like eyes. Type C.
10. Damaged - R side cut away, continuous beak with flattened top and round pellet-like eye. Type C.
11. In good condition with discrete beak, slanted lidded oval eyes. Type C.
12. L side damaged, with oval expressed bulging eyes. Type C.
13. L side damaged, with continuous beak and lidded oval eyes. Type C.
14. Eroded on R side, with continuous beak and lidded oval eyes. Type C.
15. In good condition, with continuous beak and oval eyes. Type C.
16. Eroded and broken, with projecting tongue and slanted lidded eyes. Type A.
17. Eroded, with projecting tongue and round eyes. Type A.
18. Eroded, with hair, slanted eyes and discrete beak. Type B.
19. Very eroded. Type C?.
Between the shafts of the first and second orders, the jamb is chamfered and has a row of large nailhead along its length, one with a masons' mark (Davis' type N8). The moulding terminates at the level of the necking of the capitals, and the generous space between the capitals is filled on each side with an eroded rubble block.
Shafts and imposts as second order, but the L capital is of trefoil type, beaded in the angles and the mutilated R capital has one large bead on the N scallop face. In the arch, 23 voussoirs with fret of non-uniform pitch on the face and saw-tooth on the soffit, some with central half-quatrefoil decorations. Chamfered label with nailheads.
Houghton notes that the font in St Nicholas' church 'is generally stated to be 12thc., and to have been re-cut in the 17thc.'. The upper part has 1664 inscribed on it. The pedestal has eight half round shafts that fit into scallops in the base, the only part that might conceivably be Romanesque is the plinth.