All Saints' Church, Billesley, Warwickshire

Address: Billesley, Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire, B49 6NF
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A light-filled gem with a Shakespearean connection

All Saints rises from a lovely wooded churchyard in the hamlet of Billesley near Stratford-upon-Avon. From its approach through an avenue of limes, it looks like a Georgian country church – but its origins go back 1,000 years.

The church served the thriving village of Billesley for centuries, but by 1428 only four parishioners were left, and the church’s north aisle was demolished. Tradition has it that William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway here in 1582, and that his granddaughter’s wedding also took place at Billesley. Sadly no parish registers survive from this time to prove it.

In 1692, Bernard Whalley rebuilt the church to create a fashionable classical addition to his Billesley estate. He installed a gallery for his staff complete with a butler’s boxed seat. Whalley’s own pew had a fine classical fireplace. His body lies, with his wife Lucy, in a sealed vault beneath the sanctuary floor.

Some remains of the early church survive, in particular the two spectacular 12th century stone carvings, which you can see on the east wall of the vestry. One, a richly decorated tympanum, shows a soldier in a kilt, a snake, a dragon and a bird, all surrounded by wonderfully twisted foliage. The other is part of a stone cross on which is a carved figure of Christ holding the hand of another person.

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How to find us

To locate this church on a map, click on the 'View on map' link that appears below the address information at the top of the page.

Road directions

4 miles west of Stratford-upon-Avon, off A46. Follow signs to Billesley and Billesley Manor Hotel

Public transport information

Nearest railway stations: Wilmcote (2.5 miles) and Stratford-upon-Avon (4 miles). Bus route numbers 26/29/299.

OS Reference No.

SP 148 568

What’s on & news

News

06/01/14 We would like to warn all our volunteers and visitors to take care when visiting our churches due to the…

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News about this church

You can find out more about each of the news items summarised below by clicking on the news title.

Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

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Image gallery

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Images from Flickr

The CCT is grateful to the Flickr group, Friends of the Churches Conservation Trust, for the images shown here. CCT is not responsible for the quality or content of images taken from Flickr.


Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

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Useful information

Why not make your visit more enjoyable and informed by finding out more about this church and the CCT before you visit?

You can download a range of publications below including the relevant county guide, and any walkround guides we have for this church.

 

 

 


PDF iconWarwickshire & Northamptonshire County Guide (PDF, 4.6mb)

This free of charge short guide contains details of all the churches CCT cares for in Warwickshire & Northamptonshire. Printed copies of the county guides are also available at the church.

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Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

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Comments

  1. Jason Trussell (12 Jun 2011, 16:01)

    The church dates back to around 1086, my ancestors owned it in 1166, today only the three sided moat survives of the ancient manor house (south of the church).
    Back then it was called Billesley Trussell and it was depopulated as a result of the Black Death.
    Stopped by again in April and although it was being repaired I still love the little church and its surroundings, its well worth a visit if your in the area.

  2. David Woodman (05 Aug 2011, 12:14)

    I lived in Upper Billesley until 1994.I used to be involved with the Parish Meeting for this area.
    Billesley Church has always been my favourite,it is so quiet and tranquil,the building itself is also very interesting.
    It is well worth a walk across country from Wilmcote station if transport is a problem.

  3. Kevin Faukner (19 Sep 2011, 16:41)

    Interesting. Here at Saint John Maddermarket Norwich we have the tenuous Shakespeare connection of Will Kemp making a bet with the Bard in 1600 that he could jig to Norwich in 9 days. He completed his 'nine days wonder leaping over the church-yard wall here !

  4. Jason Trussell (25 Nov 2011, 12:27)

    I was back at the church last weekend, me and my brother were helping rebuild the stone wall on the est side of the grave yard.
    Hard work but was good fun dry stone walling is nice to look at when finished but is real hard work! Was great to be helping out in our ancient family's neck of the woods, felt like I was back home.
    If anyone want's to help out there is another event being planned for the new year!

  5. H. A. Pugh (27 Jul 2012, 19:22)

    We visited this church on Wednesday. Lovely church but such a pity they have restored the outside stonework with what can only be described as grey concrete blocks -totally out of keeping with the limestone stonework of the church.

  6. David Moseley (23 Oct 2012, 19:51)

    I visited the church on Tuesday Oct 23 2012 work is been carried out to the outer wall, it is a shame about the the grey stone to repair parts of the outside stonework of the church but still a very interesting small church and the history and well done to the people who are restoring the church and its surrounds

  7. Mrs B R Belcher (25 Jan 2013, 13:06)

    With a disabled friend I attempted to visit All Saints on the 10th January. I assume the only way to the church is through Billesley Manor Hotel's car park. It was impossible to pass along the path behind the hotel's septic tank/drainage system. I agree this was not a good time of the year (the path was covered in mud and run off from the drain enclosure, it was pretty smelly too!) but we were very disappointed to be so near and yet so far from being able to access the church. I wonder if there is another accessway. The Hotel receptionist was quite happy for us to park in their disabled area which was nice. Do you have any comments from other prospective visitors?

  8. Jo Cross, The Churches Conservation Trust (25 Jan 2013, 15:16)

    We were very sorry to hear that Mrs Belcher had a wasted journey to our church in Billesley. There is in fact a dead-end road leading down the side of the hotel directly to the church and the neighbouring farm. Because parking is not so easy on this road we made the decision to signpost visitors to the hotel car park. You are quite right to point out, however, that the path from the hotel to the church has poor accessibility. An additional problem of blocked road drains has resulted in waterlogged and muddy ground all around the entrance to the church including the pathway. The drains were jetted by Highways a couple of weeks ago so hopefully things will improve. Accessibility into the church itself is good.

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Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

Donate online

Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

Donate online

All Saints' Church, Billesley, Warwickshire

Keyholder

If the access information for this church is listed as 'Keyholder nearby', this means that the key is kept by one of our invaluable volunteer 'keyholders', who usually live just a short walk from the church and can give visitors the key; sometimes this is a nearby hotel, pub, library, art gallery or other venue. You will find instructions explaining how to get the key when you arrive at the church.

Disabled access

The church entrance is narrow.

Facilities

Due to the historic nature of our buildings, only a very small number of them have heating or running water meaning that they can be cold, and very rarely have toilet facilities. The lighting is usually operated via a 'push button' timer or a motion sensor. We do apologise for any inconvenience the lack of facilities may cause.