All Saints' Church, Billesley, Warwickshire
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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 twelfth-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.Billesley walk around guide page 1 Billesley walk around guide page 2
24 December 2017 - 24 December 2017
A mass for Christmas Eve
150 years of stained glass art. A church from our finest shortlist.
From the eleventh century to the Arts & Crafts movement
A church on the edge of a battle
From hotel car park walk along a leaf-covered path to the churchyard gate at the west end. Then across a narrow paved path in the churchyard to a level entrance at the west porch. Possible additional vehicular access to churchyard gate through farm adjacent to the hotel. Access is over a paved path in the churchyard to a level entrance at west porch.
Facilities & Hire
All Saints can be hired for short breaks via our Champing™ website: www.champing.co.uk
4 miles west of Stratford-upon-Avon, off the A46. Follow signs to Billesley and Billesley Manor Hotel
Nearest railway stations: Wilmcote (2.5 miles) and Stratford-upon-Avon (4 miles)
Bus route numbers: 26/29/299
History & Further 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 walk round guides we have for this church.
This free of charge short guide contains details of all the churches we care for in Warwickshire Northamptonshire. Printed copies of the county guides are also available at the church:Warwickshire & Northamptonshire County Guide
If you are interested in finding out more about the history of this church, you can do so by downloading the guide below. These guides are usually also available for purchase at the church:
All Saints' Church, Billesley is in our West region