We use cookies to improve your experience, some are essential for the operation of this site.

St Mary, Kingswinford, Staffordshire

(52°30′5″N, 2°9′32″W)
SO 893 893
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Staffordshire
now Staffordshire
  • G. L. Pearson
  • Ron Baxter

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=11503.

Find out how to cite the CRSBI website here.

Feature Sets

The village of Kingswinford has now been entirely absorbed into the Dudley conurbation. In 1851 it was described as 'a small but pleasant village, with many new houses, three miles WSW of Dudley' (White). The parish, however, was an extensive one, heavily populated even then, with 22,221 inhabitants dispersed among eight villages and twenty hamlets, largely employed by the coal, iron, glass, brick and pottery industries. Kingswinford village still exists, in name at least, as the area immediately around the church, with a green and a pond. Bradley Hall, a timber-framed house dated 1596, once stood in the village too, but when it was taken down its timbers reused by K. H. Smith for use in neo-Tudor houses at Stratford-upon-Avon in the early 20thc.

Views of the church in 1837 (NW view by T. P. Wood) and 1845 (SW view by J. Buckler), now in the William Salt Library, show a building with a medieval W tower flanked by N and S porches, and a nave with 18thc. aisles, apparently rendered (the chancel is not shown in either view). These features remain in the present church, but a parish room has been added on the N side, approached from the church through the N porch, by a doorway inserted at the W end of the aisle. The S porch has been converted for vestry use, and entry for worshippers is now through the W doorway or the parish room. The S aisle retains its round-headed Georgian windows, but they were fitted with three-light Gothic tracery in the 19thc. The N aisle wall is still rendered, but the S aisle wall has been covered with the kind of stone cladding more usually seen in a domestic context, and with as little success. The chancel is largely 18thc. or 19thc. and has an organ room to the S. The red sandstone W tower, then, contains the only medieval fabric of the church. Its rubble lower storey has plain round-headed windows towards the top, perhaps the original bell-openings, and must be 12thc. The ashlar upper storey is 14thc. with reticulated bell-openings, and has a modern embattled parapet. Inside, the nave arcades are of four bays: 19thc. versions of 13thc. work, with cylindrical piers, moulded and stiff-leaf capitals and pointed arches. Set inside the SW vestry, above the door to the nave aisle, is a tympanum of St Michael and the Dragon; one of the finest pieces of Romanesque sculpture in the county. The parish was transferred from the Lichfield diocese to Worcester in the 1990s.


Kingswinford was held by King William in 1086, and by King Edward before him. It consisted of five hides with four acres of meadow and woodland half a league long and three furlongs broad. There was a mill, but no church was recorded at that time. A priest was recorded in 1186: one William who was being sought as an outlaw by the Sheriff of Staffordshire. In 1206, King John sold the manor of Kingswinford to Ralph de Somery, Baron Dudley. The manor remained in this family throughout the Middle Ages.


Interior Features

Interior Decoration


The tympanum was in its present position in 1808, and was said to have been over the S doorway originally (Shaw). Pedmore (Worcs), only five miles S of Kingswinford, has a tympanum showing Christ in Majesty. It is less accomplished and certainly less dramatic in its impact than this one, but it also uses beaded ornament and the treatment of wings is similar. Keyser's 1905 study is the most detailed. In his analysis of the subject his main typological division is by the weapon used by the saint to subdue his foe. Other examples showing St Michael with a sword are found at Ipswich, St Nicholas (Suffolk), Southwell Minster and Hoveringham (Notts), Harnhill (Glos) and Long Marton (Westmoreland). Keyser considered Ipswich to be the closest of these to Kingswinford, but the similarities are by no means striking. He raised the possibility that the present relief may be pre-Conquest, but the decorative repertoire, and the fact that it is a semicircular tympanum make this extremely unlikely. The present author would suggest a date ofc.1080-1100.

Anon, St Mary's Kingswinford (church guide 2005)
U. Beddall, An Historical Sketch of the Parish of Kingswinford, Brierley Hill c.1885.
C. E. Keyser, 'Notes on a Sculptured Tympanum at Kingswinford Church, Staffordshire, and other Early Representations in England of St Michael the Archangel', Archaeological Journal LXII (2nd ser. XII), London 1905, 137-46.
A. W. Clapham, English Romanesque Architecture After the Conquest. Oxford 1934, 138.
Staffordshire County Council, Staffordshire Views Collection, SV V 69, 70. Available online at http://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/portal/page?_pageid=47,71124and_dad=portaland_schema=PORTAL
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Staffordshire. Harmondsworth 1974, 164.
S. Shaw, The History and Antiquities of Staffordshire. 1798-1801. 2 vols. repr. 1976, II, 231.
Victoria County History: Worcestershire. III (1913)
W. White, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, 2nd ed., Sheffield, 1851.