Treasures with CCT churches

Following on from an exciting Members’ Exclusive Lecture with Canon Janet Gough OBE, who told the stories of 50 fascinating treasures from Cathedrals across the Church of England and Church in Wales, CCT has had a look at just some of the treasures in our care.

To become a member of CCT and enjoy access to exclusive monthly lectures from just £3.50 a month, sign up here on our website. Alternatively, email, [email protected], for more information.

Church treasures in Wiltshire

Inglesham, St John the Baptist - An ancient painted wonder saved by William Morris.

This remote 13th-century church with Saxon origins stands on a gentle rise of land above waterside meadows near the Thames and just off the Ridgeway Path. Pioneering Victorian designer William Morris – who lived at nearby Kelmscott – oversaw St John’s restoration in the 19th century, ensuring it kept its original Medieval identity.

An amazing series of paintings, from the thirteenth to the nineteenth century, cover the walls often with one painted over another, in places seven layers thick. While it is not always easy to puzzle out the subjects, you can see fifteenth-century angels above the chancel arch, an early fourteenth-century doom on the east wall of the north aisle, and several nineteenth-century texts, as well as a thirteenth-century masonry pattern throughout the chancel.

There is an unusual and powerful Saxon stone carving of the Madonna and Child set in the south wall. The woodwork of the roofs, the fifteenth-century screens and the seventeenth and eighteenth-century pulpit and box pews are all original to the church, and their arrangement is still much as it would have been in Oliver Cromwell's time.

West Dean, Borbach Chantry - Memorial secrets in a secluded chapel.

Striking memorials grace this fascinating rural chapel – which is all that remains of a 14th-century church. The earliest, a wall memorial from the 1620s, shows John Evelyn and his wife kneeling in grand Stuart fashions, with their 11 children in a line below. Perhaps the most imposing memorial is Robert Pierrepont’s – an angel supports his life-sized marble figure. The chapel stands alone in excellent walking country – a great place to take a break.


Church treasures in Shropshire

Shrewsbury, St Mary the Virgin - An ancient church with world-famous stained glass spanning six centuries and animals, birds and angels carved in an oak ceiling.

The spire of St Mary’s is one of the tallest in England and for over 500 years it has dominated the skyline of Shrewsbury’s old town. In 1739, showman Robert Cadman made a fatal attempt to slide from it, head first, using a rope and a grooved breastplate. His engraved obituary stands outside the

west door. The church has ancient origins. It dates from Saxon times and has beautiful additions from the 12th century onwards. Inside, the atmosphere is peaceful with the soaring stone arches giving way to the church’s great treasure – its stained glass. There are panels in glorious colour including the world- famous 14th-century ‘Jesse window’ and scenes from the life of St Bernard; a Medieval cartoon strip that shows him ridding flies from an abbey, riding a mule and curing the sick.

Battlefield, St Mary Magdalene - A memorial church to a bloody battle.

This large, dignified church stands in open countryside on the site of the ferocious Battle of Shrewsbury, which took place in 1403. Thousands of soldiers are thought to have died in the fray, and the church was built as a memorial to them. A statue of Henry IV, who defeated Henry ‘Hotspur’ Percy in the battle, stands on the outside east wall. On the roof beams inside are representations of the shields of the knights who fought with Henry IV.

Bridgnorth, St Leonard - Vast Medieval church restored by the Victorians

This proud Gothic church is a Victorian restoration. The original church was almost entirely destroyed in the Civil War when Roundhead troops used it as an ammunition store, and it exploded during a battle. Inside, the church has an airy vastness – as you enter, you get an extraordinary sense of space unfolding before you. The 19th-century interior is thoughtfully designed – look for the umbrella stands on the pews.

Wroxeter, St Andrew - A Saxon church built from Roman ruins.

St Andrew’s is built on the site of Viroconium, the fourth largest town of Roman Britain, and evidence of the ancient town is everywhere. The gateposts are made from Roman columns; the walls contain massive Roman stones; and the huge font is made from an inverted Roman column base. Inside, the church are three 16th-century alabaster tombs – each has a life-size, and eerily life-like, painted figure lying in repose.


Church treasures in Suffolk

Bungay, St Mary - Brilliant carvings and a legendary beast.

East Anglia was once the most populated region of England. With the arrival of the Normans in 1066, it grew rich on wool, trading with Europe for huge returns. Small villages built mighty churches with their gains. Today, many of those villages have moved or vanished, leaving only the churches behind.

The tower of St Mary’s is a landmark, visible high above the town. Inside, the 15th-century building is filled with light and full of images of wonderful creatures. A wooden dole-cupboard – where bread was left for the poor – is carved with religious worthies and a perky rat. Gaze upwards and you’ll see roof carvings of angels, a lion, two-headed eagles, and a bat. St Mary’s is also famous for the Black Dog of Bungay – it appeared during a terrifying storm in 1577 and attacked the congregation.


Church treasures in Suffolk

Little Wenham, All Saints - One of Suffolk’s best-kept secrets.

This 13th-century flint church, with a Tudor brick-topped tower, is hidden away up a track past one of the oldest houses in England. Behind the altar, the walls are alive with Medieval paintings: pick out St Margaret with her dragon and St Catherine with her wheel. The saints are elegant and almost ghostlike, with blackened faces from the ageing paint. There are also wall plaques to the local Brewse family – one with the doll-sized figure of John Brewse, kneeling in eternal prayer.


Church treasure in Surrey

Cheam, Lumley Chapel - A tiny treasure full of remarkable carvings.

Lumley Chapel, the oldest building in Cheam, can be found in St Dunstan's churchyard and is the only surviving remnant of a 900-year-old building that once stood on this site. John Lumley, a Catholic aristocrat, and art collector, refurbished the building as a burial place for himself and his two wives in the late sixteenth century. Opulent stone monuments fill the walls and a huge tomb near the door shows Lumley's first wife Jane Fitzalan, carved in alabaster, wearing a starched ruff and headdress, her gown flowing as she kneels in prayer