St Mary, Halford, Warwickshire

Feature Sets (3)


The church comprises a 12thc. nave, extended westward in the 13thc., and a 13thc. chancel and S aisle; the 13thc. W tower is formed in the angle of the nave and S aisle. There is extensive use of grey lias rubble work, also some shell bearing limestone and red sandstone. The N and S doorways are Romanesque, as is the chancel and sculpture in the nave E wall.


There is no mention of Halford in the Domesday Survey, but it seems that Kenilworth Priory has some rights - in 1247 the Bishop of Worcester obtained the right of advowson, with the consent of Kenilworth, in return for a pension. The church continued with Worcester until 1919 when it was transferred to the new diocese of Coventry.


Exterior Features


N doorway

Set under a modern porch, this has two orders with nook columns with a sculptured tympanum. The inner order jambs have modern timbered reveals with false imposts. The engaged shafts of the second order are set on (shared?) engaged block bases. The engaged capitals have cable necking.

The R capital is intricately carved with a bearded figure in a tunic with arms raised, clutching in the right hand a flower or scepter (?), and in the other a stick (?). On each face a curved stem arises from the lower part of the outer edges, meeting at the top of the angle; on the N face, a lion with long tail ending in a volute ascends the stem, and on the W face a griffon ascends the stem. On both faces, under each part of the stem, an inclined fleur-de-lys rises; on the W face rising from grass. The imposts have face rolls with hollow chamfer above to a plain upright with groove and extend both sides into the later porch. The arch is a single order with label; an inner edge roll is surmounted by cable, and a plain face with a central semi-circle of cable. The label is hollow chamfered with a line of billets within. The tympanum, on finer grained whiteish stone, is occupied by a seated angel, from the knees at the lower edge, to the head and wings conforming with the outer periphery. The angel's arms are outstretched, and the hands hold a scrolled ribbon on which is painted: + AVE MARIA GRATIA PLENA DOMINUS TEGUM BENEDICTA TU IN MULIERABUS +. The angel's robes are loosely fitting.

approx. h. of shaft 1.25 m
diam. 0.15 m
h. of capital with necking 0.20 m
h. of capital without necking 0.18 m
h. of impost 0.18 m
w. of aperture 1.24 m
w. of capital 0.18
L capital:

Cushion capital, partly eroded. On the N face shield a sunken semi-circle with outward radial lines to the shield periphery and, centrally below, a narrow upward cone. Two lines of pellets in the angle with an inverted mask below. The W face shield also has a sunken semi-circle with outward radial lines to the shield periphery and, centrally below, a narrow upward cone. Two lines of pellets in the angle with and inverted mask below. The W face shield also has a sunken semi-circle with beads around the periphery, the rest being plain.

R capital:

S Doorway

Of two orders with nook columns. This doorway has been reset into the 13thc. S aisle and is very badly eroded. The arch and jambs are of red sandstone, and the columns of shell-bearing limestone. Plain first order jambs with shared imposts having a lower roll edge with a hollow chamfer and plain upright with the usual groove around. The engaged nook shafts of the second order rise from bulbous bases, the L side being depleted, on multilith chamfered plinths. The engaged cushion capitals, very eroded, have cable necking. The L capital has vestiges of rising cables; the R capital has sunken semi-circles on the faces (as on N doorway). The imposts extend forwards and outwards from the first order to the second, terminating at (R) and beyond (L) the capital engagement. The very eroded single order arch, sprung from the second order, has a lower edge roll and two hollows leading to the label with vestiges of studs. The tympanum, mounted on the first order, is plain.

aperture 0.116 m
capital excl. necking 0.16 m
capital incl. necking 0.18 m
diam. 0.15 m
h. of bases 0.19 m
h. of impost 0.14 m
h. of shafts 1.27 m
w. of impost at face 0.52 m

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Chancel arch

Of two orders, with nook column.

First order: jamb and arch plain on shared plinth with upper chamfer, and shared impost.

Second order: L spherical base mounted on a square block, all plain.

The R base has double roll, the square block under and the adjacent face stonework being chip-carved with saltire crosses. The engaged shafts are monolithic except the L shaft which has a sandstone insert near the top. Cushion capitals with cable necking, the L having non-mirror twin cables rising in the angle to a terminal feature, each face having a triangular feature and mirrored cables rising to the shield. The R capital is similar, but the cabling is missing throughout, terminating in a small volute. The imposts have a lower small roll, quirk, hollow, bead, quirk and small roll, and upright with groove. On the L, the upper face has a saw-tooth frieze, some teeth with inscribed circles; on the R the decoration is diamonds on edge with cable under. The imposts continue as strings courses to the N and S walls, and also extend around the reveal to form an impost on the E side. On the W side, the two-ordered stepped arch has a three-quarter roll in the nook. On the W side, the two-ordered stepped arch has a three-quarter roll in the nook, but is single ordered on the W face. Above the arch is a projecting block, too mutilated to determine what features it might have had.

diam. of shaft 0.165 m
h. of base 0.19 m
h. of capital excl. necking 0.15 m
h. of capital inc. necking 0.17 m
h. of impost 0.17 m
h. of shaft 1.4 m
w. of aperture 2.26 m
w. of base 0.23 m
w. of soffit 0.65 m

Interior Decoration


Fragment, Nave E wall

In the equivalent position to the S niche, there is an exposed part of a colonette, now enclosed on the N side with rubble-work.

Niche, Nave E wall

On the R hand side of the chancel arch there is a niche rising from the extension of the impost, formed by a blind arch comprising engaged colonettes (without bases) and capitals, with a semi-circular half rollover. The capitals are double scalloped, the L plain, and the R with a triangular design on the cone. Within the arch there is the residue of a cut-away figure, standing with raised arms. The ashlar adjacent to the colonette has a residual band of black paint, and the area around the figure is tinged with red and black paint. There is a speck of green near the feet.


The figural capital on the N doorway is similar to the very eroded example on the N doorway of St Peter's church, Whatcote, less than 5km away. The niche on the R of the chancel arch is in its original position as the colonette is carved from the two blocks adjacent to it. The feature on the other side of the chancel arch to the niche is the remnants of another niche. Pevsner describes the angel as the best piece of Norman sculpture in the county. The Romanesque sculpture of Halford has been closely studied by Kahn, who has commented that the sculptor of the angel was probably aware of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, and that there is a similarity to a carved angel at Worcester cathedral, although the latter is not necessarily by the same sculptor. The present inscription (from Luke 1:28) on the angel's scroll is modern. Kahn also suggests that the L niche is in situ because the colonette is carved from the two blocks which flank it; that the figure is probably of St John the Evangelist; and that the two niches were related to a rood above the chancel.

The dedication is recorded as 'Our Blessed Lady' in Crockford's Clerical Directory.


  • Victoria County History of Warwickshire. 1949, Vol.5
  • D. Kahn, 'The Romanesque Sculpture of the Church of St Mary at Halford, Warwickshire', Journal of the British Archeological Association. Vol.CXXXIII, p.64ff
  • N. Pevsner and A. Wedgwood, The Buildings of England, Warwickshire. 1966, p.305


Site Location
National Grid Reference
258 456 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Warwickshire
now: Warwickshire
medieval: Worcester
now: Coventry
now: St Mary
medieval: St Mary
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Harry Sunley