Church Eaton is an attractive village in the W of the county, 6 miles SW of Stafford and 4 miles from the Shropshire border. The village lies between the Church Eaton Brook, to the E, and the Shropshire Union Canal, to the W, in an undulating landscape mostly devoted to dairy farming. The church stands at the E end of the High Street, and is of local sandstone. It consists of nave, chancel and W tower with spire. N aisle has been added to the nave, and extended eastwards alongside the chancel to form a chapel. Beyond this, at the E end of the N chancel wall, is an unusual 17thc. vestry. On the S of the chancel is a 19thc. organ room. The two-storey tower is 12thc., with clasping buttresses to the lower storey, which also has two small round-headed lancets in the W wall. The upper storey has plain round-headed lancets on its N, S and W walls, and on the E wall a larger round-headed window into the nave. All the external lancets are chamfered, suggesting a late-12thc. date, and this is confirmed by the pointed tower arch and its capitals, and by the bell-openings, with twin pointed openings under a barely-pointed enclosing arch. The broach-spire, recessed behind a plain parapet with gargoyles at the angles, is dated by Pevsner to the 15thc. It has lucarnes at two levels. The nave has a S doorway ofc.1300, and tall 15thc. windows. On the N, the four-bay arcade is mid-13thc., with pointed, chamfered arches and nailhead decoration on the moulded capitals. The square-headed aisle windows are 14thc, however. The N chapel is 15thc., with tall, three-light square-headed windows, and a two-bay arcade with arches taller than the nave arcade and crudely cut octagonal capitals. In the present liturgical arrangement the chancel has been shortened, so that its screen and step are alongside the central pier of the chapel arcade. The seven-light E chancel window is a beautifully skeletal work of the 15thc. The 19thc. additions include the S porch and the organ room and vestry on the S side of the chancel. Romanesque work recorded here comprises the tower bell-openings and tower arch, a cushion capital set in the S porch, and the broken and repaired remains of an elaborate early-12thc. font, closely related to the font at Bradley.
Before the Conquest Church Eaton was held by Vilgrip, a free man. Robert of Stafford held Church Eaton with three hides in 1086, and Godric held them from him. The holding also included four acres of meadow and woodland a furlong square. The demesne included a priest. According to Buckler, the church, apart from the rights of Godwin the priest, was given by Robert de Stafford to the abbey of Benedictine nuns at Polesworth (Warws.) where his kinswoman Edelina was about to take vows. In another version, the gift was made by Robert de Brinton, heir of Edelina, with the consent of Eva his wife, presumably between about 1166 and 1185 while they were jointly holding the manor. By 1198 Eve and her second husband Walter de Witefield were disputing the right of the Abbess of Polesworth to the advowson, and in 1203 a verdict was given in favour of the nuns, whose claim rested on the gift of the church by Eve's ancestors. The same dispute arose again in 1260 whenthe lord was Eva's grandson, Adam de Brinto, and this time the bishop, Roger Meuland, proposed a compromise whereby the lord could nominate a suitable candidate but only the abbess could present him. The abbess was paid by the clerk for this concession, and this arrangement remained in force until the Dissolution.
Benefice of Bradeley (sic), Church Eaton and Moreton.
|est. ext. diam.||0.64 m|
|est. int. diam.||0.43 m|
|max. h of bowl||0.76 m|
Victoria County History: Staffordshire. IV Cuttlestone hundred (W), (1958).
J. E. Buckler, A History of St Edith's Parish Church, Church Eaton. Church Guide May 1987 (rev. 1998).
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Staffordshire. Harmondsworth 1974, 135-36.