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St Mary, Bradley, Staffordshire

(52°45′37″N, 2°10′45″W)
SJ 880 181
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Staffordshire
now Staffordshire
  • G. L. Pearson
  • Ron Baxter

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Bradley lies some 4 miles SW of Stafford in a gently undulating landscape of small dispersed farms, traditionally dairy. The church is of red sandstone and has a nave with a N aisle, chancel with a N chapel and a W tower. The chancel side windows indicate a late-13thc. date, although the E window with its flowing tracery is 14thc. The two-bay N chapel is of the late-13thc. In the nave, the three-bay arcade with its quatrefoil piers and sunk quadrant mouldings in the arch belongs to the early 14thc. There is no clerestory, but the S nave wall has been fitted with three tall 15thc. windows that light the interior admirably. To the same period belong the battlemented parapets of the nave and tower. The N nave aisle is linked to the N chapel by a simple, very plain arch, perhaps early-13thc., and an old roofline visible in the masonry above this demonstrates that the aisle has been widened and heightened, probablyc.1500 (see VIII Comments/Opinions), the date of the aisle windows. The nave has N and S doorways without porches; the N 19thc. and the S 16thc. The tower and its arch are 14thc. and later work. It had a W doorway that was blockedc.1907 using 12thc. and later carved stones on the interior. Other 12thc. carved stones are set in the S nave wall outside, and the church is also important for its chip-carved font. Antiquarian views in the William Salt Library are a view from the N by J. Curtes of 1798 (SV II 122c), one from the SE by Buckler of 1842 (SV II 29), and one of the tower from the W, also by Buckler, 1842 ((SV II 117). This last shows the W doorway before it was blocked. There is also an 1842 Buckler drawing of the font (SV II 121).


Bradley was held by Robert of Stafford in 1086, and had belonged to Earl Edwin before the Conquest. The manor comprised just one hide in Bradley but berewicks in Barton, Apeton, Littywood, Billington, Burton, Silkmore, Longnor, Mitton, Alstone and Woollaston, and 13 messuages in Stafford itself. No church was recorded in connection with this extensive manor. The church is first mentioned in a document which may be dated after 1161, in which Stone Priory agreed to share equally with Lichfield Chapter all the revenues of the benefice except the tithes on the lordship of Bradley, and all others belonging to St Nicholas's Chapel, Stafford as they had been in the time of William, archdeacon of London, or Master Richard of Shropshire. In 1542, 20 loads of stone were purchased from the demolished church of the Austin Friars in Stafford, and it has been suggested (VCH) that they were used in the rebuilding of the N arcade.

Benefice of Bradeley (sic), Church Eaton and Moreton.


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration




Loose Sculpture


The badly damaged font at Church Eaton shows all the same motifs as this one in the same sequence, and must have been identical in design. Whether it was similar in size too is difficult to judge, since the pieces have been assembled wrongly. The unusual interlocking triangle motif also appears on a string course on the N transept at Gnosall, and other string courses there include the flat cable ornament and the sawtooth found on the Bradley capital. Comparisons may also be made with work at Lilleshall, (Salop). Prof. Prentice's report on the carved stones re-set in the tower and nave walls indicates that they are of Grinshill stone, from a quarry some 20 miles to the W. This stone was generally used by sculptors in the area, as the local sandstone, employed in the masonry, was not suitable for sculpture.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Staffordshire. Harmondsworth 1974, 76.
J. Prentice, Report on the stone used at Bradley Church. (Private Communication to G. Pearson, 1994)
Staffordshire County Council, Staffordshire Views Collection nos SV II 29, 117, 121 and 122c. Available online at http://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/portal/page?_pageid=47,71124and_dad=portaland_schema=PORTAL
Victoria County History: Staffordshire. IV Cuttlestone hundred (W), (1958), 85-86.