Around Feckenham Church

This brief guide describes a number of features of historical and architectural interest in the church.  A booklet entitled "A walk around Feckenham Church" is available for visitors to the church and this provides more detail.  We hope you find this snapshot interesting and will feel inspired to visit us in the near future to see this lovely church for yourself.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

View from a point in front of the vestry, looking up the church towards the chancel.  On the left (north) the arcade of four pointed arches on round pillars dates from about 1240-50 and is the earliest remaining medieval work inside the church.  The striking and unusual patterns painted on the arches were copied by two village ladies at the beginning of the 20th century from some original colouring which can be made out on the north side of the easternmost arch (nearest the chancel).  They completed their work in 1904.  The zig-zags on the arches feature, as do several other motifs in the church, in the designs used for the colourful kneelers which were created by villagers as a millenium project.
Arcade of four pointed arches along north aisle
The right-hand wall, with the south door and three 13th century style windows, is Victorian work of 1866-7, and the impressive, wide and high arch-braced roof is also Victorian. The corbels supporting the roof timbers are mostly in the form of angels playing musical instruments.  The angel at the top of the central window on the south, however, holds the badge of St. John the Baptist, the Paschal Lamb.  The dedication of the church is to St. John.  South wall

Vestry and tower arch

Behind you and above the vestry the tower arch is very plain, without capitals, and dates from the 15th century, when the present tower was built. There was an earlier tower contemporary with the 13th century church, parts of the walling of which remain and are visible outside. The tower houses a ring of eight bells, the earliest of which date from 1640. The ringing chamber can be seen, behind a glass screen, on the first floorand there is a description of the bells and their inscriptions next to the door to the vestry.
The Charity Boards, on each side of the tower arch and over the south door, record charitable benefactions over the centuries to the people of the parish.  The one on the left of the tower arch is the earliest, dated 1665, and among other things records a gift of £10 to the poor of the parish by John Howman (c.1515-1585), the village’s most famous son, who became the last Abbot of Westminster under Queen Mary and was known as John of Feckenham.  A little lower down on the same board is recorded King Charles I’s gift of £6 1 3s 4d (about £6.67) a year from the revenues of the Forest of Feckenham towards the Free School in the village.  This gift is commemorated in the window in the north aisle. The board to the right of the tower arch is dated 1723 and records the gift of a Library for the use of the Vicar.  Some of the books were until fairly recently in a bookcase in the north aisle, but were removed for safe keeping to the County Record Office. Charity board

Approach to chancel

Walking up the nave towards the chancel, notice the chancel arch ahead, which seems to be about the same date as the arcade on the left (ie 13th century).  It is very wide and a little distorted and stands on moulded corbels.

 

 list of vicars at chancel arch As you enter the chancel, on the south side of the chancel arch hangs a list of Vicars, starting with Thomas of Northleach in 1235. The north arcade probably dates from this time.

The chancel was rebuilt under the supervision of the famous Victorian architect William Butterfield, in 1853, but the windows on the north and south sides are probably copies of what was originally there.  The two small, round-headed, deeply-splayed windows at the east end of the north side are Norman, dating perhaps from the 12th century, indicating that there was a chancel of about the present length from very early times.  The tall single lancet window and the three-light window on the south are 13th century and date from what must have been a substantial rebuilding at that time, when the nave arcade was also built.  To the west there are two later, square-headed, 15th century windows, one on the north and one on the south.  On the ledge under the southern window is a pair of tongs, formerly used to impress sacred designs on communion wafers.

Chancel

On the south wall is a simple monument, with a draped flag and sword, to Lt. Haywood, who died at Liverpool in 1855 on his way to Corfu and the Crimean War; he was 23.  The monument records that it was ‘raised by his brother officers as a slight token of their affectionate regard’.  Just to the left and below this is a plain black tablet commemorating Edward Connard, who died in 1764. It is interesting to see that he is described as ‘late of the Burrowhill in this Parish, Needlemaker’, a trade for which the Redditch area became famous.  The stained glass in the easternmost window on the south, and in the east window itself, is Victorian, though the two are of very different styles. The former is dated 1903 and represents the angel appearing at the tomb on Easter Day.