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

St Mary, Stottesdon, Shropshire

St Mary's Church, STOTTESDON, Bull Ring, Stottesdon, Kidderminster DY14 8UE, United Kingdom (52°26′34″N, 2°29′0″W)
SO 673 829
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Shropshire
now Shropshire
medieval Hereford
now Hereford
medieval St Mary
now St Mary
  • Barbara Zeitler
  • Ron Baxter
  • Barbara Zeitler
  • Ron Baxter
27 Oct 1997 (BZ), 12 June 2023 (RB), 18 Oct 2023 (RB)

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=13311.

Find out how to cite the CRSBI website here.


Stottesdon is a village in SE Shropshire, 10 miles W of Kidderminster and 7 miles S of Bridgnorth. The church, one of the most significant in the county, is built of white limestone. The earliest part is the 11thc nave with a monumental W doorway. The W tower was added in the early 12thc., so that the W doorway is now inside the tower, and a N aisle was built later in the 12thc. A separately gabled S aisle was added in 1867-69 by Thomas Blaxhill, who also rebuilt most of the N aisle wall. The S porch has a 12thc entrance arch and must have been reset by Blaxhill. The chancel was rebuilt in the 14thc, and has a late-medieval N vestry. Features recorded here are the W nave doorway, the W tower doorway, the S porch entrance and a figure in its gable, the N nave arcade with a spandrel figure, and finest of all the massive font, the most sumptuous in the county according to Pevsner and a work of the Herefordhire School.


The Domesday Survey records that the manor was held by Earl Roger of Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury in demesne in 1086, and by Earl Edwin before the Conquest. It was assessed at 9 hides with a mill and 2 leagues of woodland. The church, with 2 hides, was held by St Peter's Abbey, Shrewsbury presumably by the gift of Earl Roger, and remained in the possession of that house until the Reformation.

On the fall of Robert de Belesme, heir of Earl Roger, after successive rebellions against William II and Henry I, his landsin cluding Stottesdon reverted to the Crown, being granted to Godfrey de Gamages by Henry II in 1159. It remained in this family until the failure of the male line in the mid-13thc.


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration

Corbel tables, corbels

Interior Features



Interior Decoration





Nave W doorway

Pevsner identifies the stones of the tympanum and the apex head as being of a Norman date, and the tympanum shows signs of rearrangement as do the strips that now form a label, as Mercer has pointed out. The lintel was clearly fitted later and again Mercer has suggested that the animals only make sense if the slab is set horizontally, and sugests that it may have been a tomb slab. This raises more problems as they subject matter in no way refers to death or the afterlife. Both Mercer and Pevsner agree that an Anglo-Saxon date is by no means certain, as has been assumed by e.g. Cranage. It is perhaps most reasonable to accept Mercer's suggestion that the original, much plainer 11thc nave doorway has been embellished with bits and pieces from elsewhere.

The W doorway lintel was included in the Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture as a stone wrongly associated with the pre-Conquest period (Bryant (2012), 325). Here, Bryant suggests a date in the late-11thc or, more probably, early 12thc.


This is the most celebrated feature of the church, discussed by Zarnecki (1953), Thurlby (1999) and others. The most striking feature connecting the font with the Herefordshire School is probably the band of roundels linked by grotesque masks seen on the S doorway at Kilpeck. This is typical of the Aston Master's contribution to that workshop, as was first recognised by Zarnecki, who also found comparisons with work at Aston itself, Shobdon, the chancel arch at Rock, and Alveley, notably the dress of the little figure between roundels 1 and 8 and the griffin, both repeated on shafts at Shobdon. The unusual scene of the pelican striking back at its young appears a the Old Bell Inn, Alveley. Thurlby used these parallels to date the font early in the Herefordshire School chronology, perhaps c.1138.

Within the county the font can be related to a series of tubs decorated with linked roundels, generally occupied by flowers. These are at Morville, Cound and Linley. It would seem either that the Aston Master may have used a local type as a model for his more sophisticated work, or that local men copied his design with rather less success.

Nave arcade

The nave arcade is typical work of the late 12thc. with the foliage forms showing early signs of the development of stiff leaf.

We are grateful to George Nash for supplying us with a copy of Nash (2023), an archaeological watching brief carried out on behalf of the PCC of St Mary’s Parish Church, Stottesdon, Shropshire. This has proved extremely useful in the latest revision of the report.


Anon., A Short Guide to the Church of St. Mary the Blessed Virgin, Stottesdon.

R. Bryant, Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture, Volume X: The Western Midlands , Oxford 2012, 325.

  1. D. H. S. Cranage, An Architectural Account of the Churches of Shropshire, 10 vols, 1894-1912, vol. 4, 36-56, 358-67..

R. W. Eyton, Antiquities of Shropshire, 12 vols, London 1854-60. vol. IV, 142-58.

  1. E. Mercer, English Architecture to 1900: The Shropshire Experience, Logaston 2003, 2.

G. Nash, Notes on the Medieval Sculptured and Wall Art at St Mary’s Church, Stottesdon, Shropshire, 2023.

  1. J. Newman and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Shropshire New Haven and London 2006, 615-16.

N. Pevsner, 1958, 297-98.

G. Zarnecki, Later English Romanesque Sculpture, 1953, 14, 55.