The Treasures of Welshampton Church

A summary of a talk given on 15th July 2023 on the occasion of the 160th anniversary of The Consecration

When the new vicar arrived in Welshampton in 1859 he found ‘the worst church in the diocese.’  It was a plain brick building in poor condition with no free seats and hardly any congregation.  The Holy Communion was only celebrated four times a year. That new vicar was Thomas Mainwaring Bulkeley Bulkeley-Owen the godson of Charles Kynaston Mainwaring the Patron of the Living. They started to raise money to rebuild the church but events took a tragic turn with the death of Charles Mainwaring.  Frances, his widow, decided to finance the project in memory of her late husband.  Working together she and Bulkeley-Owen employed the best architect of the day, Sir George Gilbert Scott, to draw up plans.  They added many details to Scott’s plan to ‘make it even more beautiful’. The new church was consecrated by Bishop Lonsdale of Lichfield on July 29th 1863.

The focal point of the interior is the altar raised by the mystical number seven steps from ground level.  This is framed in a rounded apse within a huge arch.  The columns on either side are clusters of Devonshire blue marble as are the pillars of the arcade in the nave.  Behind the altar is a fine reredos by Farmer of London who had collaborated with Scott on the Albert Memorial.  The 4 windows in the chancel are stained glass by Heaton Butler depicting scenes from the life of Christ.  Each window has a sculpted head carved on either side: in the centre above the altar are Our Lord and Mary; the four evangelists on either side.; above the choir stalls are the two previous patron saints,  Saints Leonard and Michael., Saint Peter and Paul are at the top of the columns supporting the arch.  At the base of each arch in the nave are mother birds feeding their young.  The choir stalls and pews were made by Rattee and Kett of Cambridge, the plain glass was supplied by Chance of Birmingham the light house glass maker, the brass work was by Skidmore of Birmingham and the chancel floor was tiled by Godwin of Hereford. The chancel roof is boarded with decorated cross pieces at the centre of each is a carving of one of the flowers mentioned in the Bible.  The roof of the nave is open timber rafters made to resemble an upturned ship. 


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