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St Mary, Rolleston on Dove, Staffordshire

(52°50′46″N, 1°39′3″W)
Rolleston on Dove
SK 236 277
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Staffordshire
now Staffordshire
  • Ron Baxter

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Feature Sets

Rolleston is now practically a suburb of Burton-on-Trent; what was a small village with an economy based on arable (cereals and beans) and dairy farming situated on the edge of Needwood Forest having largely abandoned its agricultural activities and expanded its housing stock in the 20thc., not without some resistance from the older villagers. It was an estate village until the Rolleston Estate, landlord to most of the local farms, was broken up and sold off in the 1920s. Little evidence of this remains, owing to the post-1945 expansion of the village.

Its church, St Mary's, has a 12thc. nave and chancel and a W tower ofc.1300 with a later embattled parapet and a spire behind it. The 12thc. nave still retains its N and S doorways in their original positions, but as a result of later additions, the S doorway (not the N, as Pevsner reports) is now inside the church. The S, or Mosley aisle has a two-bay arcade ofc.1300 at the E end of the nave, but in fact it extends E alongside the chancel (but not to the E end) and W alongside the nave, enclosing the S doorway (but again, not as far as the tower. It includes a 19thc. doorway under a porch. On the N, a matching arcade was inserted in 1892, forming an aisle at the E end of the nave known as the Lady Chapel. This extends eastwards the entire length of the chancel, but in the W it stops short of the nave doorway, which is still outside and has no porch. This curious arrangement manages to look symmetrical inside the church, because the arcades match each other. Romanesque sculpture is found on the two nave doorways, and there is a plain 12thc. window in the chancel (not recorded here). The most interesting of the drawings in the William Salt Library are SV VIII 83, showing the NE view in 1848, before the Lady Chapel was added, and SV VIII 82b showing the N doorway in 1844, before its restoration.


In 942 King Edmund granted a total of 40 hides at Rolleston and elsewhere in Staffordshire to Wulfsige the Black. Land at Rolleston later appears among the bequests in the will of Wulfric (1002-04), of which Morcar was a beneficiary. The manor was held by Earl Morcar immediately before the Conquest, and by Henry de Ferrers in 1086. A priest was recorded at that time. By the 12thc. the estate had passed to a family that took the name of the village as their own. The tomb of John Rolleston (d.1485) and his wife Margaret is still in the church. The Mosleys bought the hall in 1622 and it was rebuilt in 1871. Sir Oswald Mosley, the 5th baronet, sold the estate in the mid-1920s, but the hall was largely demolished shortly afterwards, releasing the land for building, after several failed attempts to sell it at auction as a single house or as flats. Sir Oswald's more famous son, the founder of the British Union of Fascists, inherited the baronetcy in 1928 on the death of his father.


Exterior Features



The two doorways date from the early years of the 12thc.; not later than 1140, and probably 1120s rather than '30s.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Staffordshire. Harmondsworth 1974, 226-27.
P. H. Sawyer, Anglo-Saxon Charters: an Annotated List and Bibliography. London 1968, S479, S1536. Available online at The Electronic Sawyer (http://www.trin.cam.ac.uk/sdk13/chartwww/eSawyer.99/S%20832a-946.html)
S. Shaw, The History and Antiquities of Staffordshire. 1798-1801. 2 vols. repr. 1976.
Staffordshire County Council, Staffordshire Views Collection nos SV VIII 82a, 82b, 83, 84. Available online at http://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/portal/page?_pageid=47,71124and_dad=portaland_schema=PORTAL