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St Leonard, Bretforton, Worcestershire

(52°5′32″N, 1°51′56″W)
SP 093 438
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Worcestershire
now Worcestershire
medieval Worcester
now Worcester
  • G. L. Pearson

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Built of lias rubble with dressings of Broadway stone ashlar. 15thc. W tower, ashlar-faced, with pinnacles. Nave, N and S aisles, N and S transepts. It stands on a low mound in the centre of the old part of the village. Sculpture ofc.1200 is found in the nave arcade capitals, and there is a plain font and a chip-carved stone set into a windowsill in the S transept.


Bretforton formed one of the largest of the gifts supposed to have been made by Kenred and Offa to the abbey of Evesham. At the time of Domesday it consisted of 12 hides. Abbot Walter gave three hides and one virgate to his brother Ranulf and two-and-a-half hides to Hugh of Bretforton. Ranulf was probably one of the first of the abbey's knights 'who did the service of a knight in horses and arms', the abbot finding the knights' expenses while on the king's service. The chancel is recorded as being consecrated on the day of St Thomas the Martyr in 1295. The advowson belonged to the abbey of Evesham until the Dissolution in 1539. It remained with the Crown until 14 November, 1558, three days before the death of Mary, when it was granted, with the rectory and church, to Richard, Bishop of Worcester. It was restored to the Crown by one of the first acts of Elizabeth's reign, and on 4 October 1586 it was granted to Sir Christopher Hatton in exchange for lands in Herefordshire.


Interior Features



Interior Decoration





Pevsner dates the arcades late 12thc. to very early 13thc. and Stratford mentions links with the nave of Wells Cathedral which is work ofc.1210-15. The style of the carving of Pier 1 of the N arcade, with its sinuous beast carved around the capital is very similar in feeling to the base of the font at Elmley Castle 14km to the W of Bretforton. They are quite likely to be by the same hand. The chancel was consecrated on St Thomas' day and it is, therefore, possible that the four heads on Pier 2 represent the saint and the knights who murdered him.

The Victoria History of the Counties of England. Worcestershire, vol.II, London 1906, 359-367, 364-365.
G. Knee, Church Guide
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Worcestershire, Harmondsworth 1968, 47, 99-100.