Church spotlight: St Edith's Church in Eaton-Under-Heywood
St Edith's is described on its website as "the church at the end of the road." And tucked away in a remote part of the glorious Shropshire countryside, it can take a bit of finding.
But for those who do find their way to this hidden treasure at the foot of Wenlock Edge, it is definitely worth the effort.
Idyllically located next to Eaton Manor, a popular destination for people seeking short breaks in the tranquility of the south Shropshire countryside, the church is unusual in that is dedicated to St Edith.
- Founded: C 12th century.
- Main services: every second and fourth Sunday of the month at 9:30am.
- In the north wall of the chancel is a 14th century recess with ballflower decoration, containing a life-sized effigy.
- In the chancel are three widely-spaced plain lancet windows of equal height, a highly unusual design.
- The sounding board on the pulpit is dated 1670, but the lower part of the pulpit is earlier, possibly dating from the 1500s.
There is also some doubt about which St Edith it actually relates to. Some believe she was St Edith of Polesworth, the daughter of King Egbert of Wessex, who had founded a Benedictine nunnery in the Forest of Arden, which was later moved to Warwickshire, while others believe the church is named after St Edith of Wilton, the daughter of Edgar the Peaceful, King of England from 959 to 975.
The church was built from stone rubble with ashlar dressings, and the roof is tiled with decorative ridge tiles and a cross finial.
The nave dates from the 12th century, and the tower and chancel from the early part of the following century.
It was built on a slope, and an interesting feature is that the floor of the nave rises from west to east.
The tower is unusually sited at the south-east corner of the nave, and the bell-openings are of two round-arched lights separated by a dividing shaft and under a larger rounded arch. It is also interesting in that it stands on a plinth, and is divided into three distinct stages, with an arched doorway on the south side. At the top of the tower is a battlemented parapet, each of the eight merlons being surmounted by a pinnacle, and a pyramidal roof.
There are two Norman windows in the north wall of the nave and one in the south, with other windows being added during alterations that were made in the 14th and 15th centuries, and replaced when the church was restored by W J Hopkins in 1869.
The stained glass in the east window, dated 1869, is by Frederick Preedy, and depicts subjects relating to Saint Edith, while the windows in the nave are windows by Done and Davies dated 1859 and 1869.
The nave roof dates from the 15th century, and shows tie-beams, with collar beams on arched braces. Between this and the lower roof of the chancel is a tympanium painted in the 1860s with the arms of local landowners. There are a series of carved wooden faces along the feet of the rafters.
Special features include a tub font that probably dates from Norman times, a 14th-century wooden effigy in the chancel, and a late medieval chest. There is also a superb example of a three-decker pulpit, and the church has three bells. The two oldest were cast in 1615 and 1622 by William Clibury, and the third by Mears and Stainbank of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 1869.
In the churchyard are two structures listed at Grade II. To the south of the church is a slab tomb dating from the middle of the 18th century. To the east of the church is a sundial dating from the early 18th century and has a brass dial dated 1721.
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