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All Saints, Alrewas, Staffordshire

(52°44′6″N, 1°45′9″W)
SK 168 153
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Staffordshire
now Staffordshire
  • Ron Baxter

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Feature Sets

Alrewas grew up alongside the Trent, near its junction with the Thame, and the Trent joins the Trent and Mersey canal here, running in its bed for just a mile or so before the two divide again at Wychnor Bridges. In the 19thc. too it was an important station on the South Staffordshire Railway. The A38, Britain's longest A-class road, running from Bodmin (Cornwall) to Mansfield (Notts) once ran through it, but Alrewas has now been bypassed and despite its commercial history is now a quiet and attractive village. All Saints has an aisled nave, chancel and W tower. The present appearance of the nave, as a hall-church with a loft arcade and aisles as high as the main vessel, is due to Basil Champney's rebuilding of 1891. Two original 12thc. nave doorways survive, now re-set in the W wall of the tower and the N nave aisle. The chancel is much narrower than the present central nave and dates from the 13thc. It was restored in 1877 but the original sedilia and piscina remain, and there is a S chapel now used as an organ loft. In the 14thc. a S aisle was added to the nave with piers shorter than at present, and the chancel arch replaced, and in the same period the W tower with its angle buttresses was built. The two 12thc. doorways must have been re-set at this time. The S doorway is 14thc. and protected by a porch of 1866. In the 16thc. the S arcade piers were heightened and the aisle and chancel roofs raised; a second storey of windows being added to both. Champney's work involved the demolition and rebuilding of the N nave wall as an aisle wall, and the insertion of a tall N arcade. He did not try to match the S arcade in detail, opting for quatrefoil piers with individual moulded capitals rather than octagonal piers and capitals. The William Salt Library holds exterior views of the church dating from before both 19thc. restorations, but unfortunately all from the SE or SW. They at least confirm that the raising of the S aisle and chancel roofs had already been carried out before the 19thc. restorations. Romanesque sculpture is found on the N nave doorway and the tower doorway.


In 942 King Edmund granted a total of 40 hides at Alrewas and elsewhere in Staffordshire to Wulfsige the Black. Immediately before the Conquest, Alrewas was held by Earl Aelfgar, and by the king in 1086. A priest was recorded at the latter date. The church supported a prebendary of Lichfield cathedral, created by Bishop Aethelwald, from as early as 822. By 1290 the manor was in the hands of Robert de Somervill, to whom King Edward I granted an annual fair and a Tuesday market.


Exterior Features



The N doorway, with its cushion capitals and tall bases, is stylistically earlier than the west; perhapsc.1125-50 as opposed toc.1175-1200, although the shortage of diagnostic details makes dating either of them difficult.

Anon, Historical Sketch of the Parish of Alrewas. und. church guide.
T. H. Brooks, A History of Alrewas Parish Church. und. church guide.
J. Colston, The History of All Saints Parish Church, Alrewas. und. church guide (post 1980).
Staffordshire County Council, Staffordshire Views Collection nos SV 1 34, 35a, 35b. 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, 53.
S. Shaw, The History and Antiquities of Staffordshire. 1798-1801. 2 vols. repr. 1976.
N. Stubbs, Alrewas Church and its History. und. church guide.
D. Wells, All Saints Parish Church, Alrewas. und. church guide.