St Nicholas, Mavesyn Ridware, Staffordshire

Feature Sets (2)


The church and the manor house alongside it were foundedc.1140 by Hugo Malvoisin, also founder of Blithbury Priory. All that remains of the medieval manor house is the timber-framed gatehouse ofc.1400. By the end of the middle ages, the church had a nave with N and S aisles and a S porch, a chancel and a W tower. In 1782 it was described as 'very damp and ruinous', and was taken down and rebuilt except for the N aisle and the tower. The present eccentric confection is the result. The church as it stands today has a broad, brick nave with a W doorway, a coved plaster ceiling, and small polygonal apse at its east, both dating from 1782. On the N side of the nave, and at a slightly lower level, is the Trinity aisle, or Cawarden Chapel, separated from the nave by a 14thc. arcade of three bays. The aisle is older than this, retaining 13thc. lancets in its E, W and N walls. In the chapel are collected a large number of memorials of the Mavesyn, Cawarden and Chadwick families, including two 13thc. effigies of knights. There are also contains hatchments and reliefs, largely retrospective and dating from around the time of the 18thc. rebuilding. The Perpendicular W tower (actually NW of the nave) is the only other medieval fabric, and both this and the N aisle are of grey ashlar. Romanesque interest centres on the foliage-ornamented font.


In 1086 the manor was held by Earl Roger de Montgomery, and Azelin from him. No church or priest was recorded at that time. By the 1130s it was in the hands of Hugo Mauvoisin, founder between 1130 and 1160 of a priory at Blithbury. He founded the church in 1140, and also erected the manor house and parsonage, one son, William, inheriting the lordship of Ridware, and another, Hugo, becoming the first parson. The lordship remained in the male line of this family, styled Mauvoisin or Mavesyn in a variety of spellings, or simply de Ridware, until 1403. In that year, Sir Robert Mavesyn died fighting for Henry Bolingbroke at Shrewsbury, and the lordship passed to the Cawardens through marriage to Robert's daughter Elizabeth, where it stayed until the 17thc. In 1611 John Chadwick became lord through his marriage to Joyce Cawarden, and the Chadwicks retained the manor until 1883, when John de Heley Mavesyn Chadwick became bankrupt through gambling.

Benefice of Mavesyn Ridware, Hamstall Ridware and Kings Bromley since 1981.




Located at the W end of the nave, S of the W doorway. The font was discovered buried in the garden of the hall and installed in the church in 1879 by the then rector, the Rev. Green. A brass plaque commemorating the event is attached to the E face of the bowl. It is assumed to be the original font of the church, and to have been removed during the 1782 works.

The bowl is of reddish sandstone lined with lead, and is barrel-shaped with a central annular band carved in relief with a simple running scroll of Winchester acanthus with a broad, flat stem and furled leaves on beaded stemlets to either side. There are inserted repairs to the upper rim at the E, W and S, and a loss to the lower rim at the E.

It stands on five modern cylindrical shafts without capitals or bases, supported by a thick cylindrical plinth.

ext. diam. at rim 0.63 m
h. of bowl 0.54 m
int. diam. at rim 0.43 m
max. circumference around foliage band 2.21 m


Winchester acanthus of various forms appears in the county at Chebsey, Swynnerton and on the tympanum at Ipstones, but this is distinguished by its very broad stem and by the beading on the leaf shoots. A date in the first quarter of the 12thc. is suggested.


  • Anon., St Nicholas Church Mavesyn Ridware. Some notes on Mavesyn Ridware - the name, the family and the church. Church guide. Derby, undated (post 1995).
  • Ridware History Society. The society maintains a website at
  • http://www.
  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Staffordshire. Harmondsworth 1974, 203.
  • S. Shaw, The History and Antiquities of Staffordshire. 1798-1801. 2 vols. repr. 1976.


Site Location
Mavesyn Ridware
National Grid Reference
SK 082 169 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Staffordshire
now: Staffordshire
medieval: Lichfield (to 1075); Chester (to c.1086); Coventry and Lichfield (to 1541)
now: Lichfield
now: St Nicholas
medieval: St Nicholas (1521)
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter