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St Mary, Elmley Castle, Worcestershire

(52°4′2″N, 2°1′39″W)
Elmley Castle
SO 982 410
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Worcestershire
now Worcestershire
medieval Worcester
now Worcester
medieval St Mary
now St Mary
  • G. L. Pearson

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The church, largely built of rubble, has a W tower, a nave with N and S aisles, a N porch, a N transept and an aisleless chancel. Herringbone masonry in the chancel walls suggests that this part of the church was built before 1100, but the rest is 13thc. and later. The parapets are of ashlar, the roofs being gabled and modern. Romanesque carved fragments are reset into the exterior and interior walls of the porch, and into the interior walls of the nave, all of later medieval date. Romanesque sculpture is also found on the font.


The four hides in Cropthorne manor held by Robert le Despenser in 1086 may represent the manor of Elmley. At his death, Elmley manor passed to the heirs of his brother, Urse D'Abitot, the sheriff. Urse's daughter Emmeline married Walter de Beauchamp, who is mentioned as the owner of these four hides in an early 12thc. survey of Oswaldstow. His son William supported the Empress Matilda, and was dispossessed of his lands by King Stephen. The advowson belonged to the lord of the manor from early times. The church was a chapel of Cropthorne.


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration


Interior Features

Interior Decoration





The beasts on the font may be compared with carving on a capital at Bretforton (N arcade) and with the font base of East Penard, Somerset (Stratford in Pevsner 1968, 143, fn.). Pevsner proposes a date in the early 13thc., as does the VCH, but the foliate terminal on the W side of the font is typical of 12thc. work.

The Victoria History of the Counties of England. Worcestershire, vol.III. London 1913, 341-46, 343.
F. Bond, Fonts and Font Covers. Oxford 1908, 93, 97, 146, 185, 267.
C. J. Bond, 'Church and Parish in Norman Worcestershire' in J. Blair (ed.) Minsters and Parish Churches: The Local Church in Transition 950-1200. Oxford University Committee for Archaeology Monograph 17. Oxford 1988, 145.
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Worcestershire. Harmondsworth 1968, 16, 17, 142–143.