Arden's WM Area Special-Interest Day Reveals Wonders of Two Churches

On 16 July fifty-two keen members from WM Area Societies attended a Day of Special Interest, organised by TAS Arden, visiting two contrasting parish churches in the Solihull area.

Blue Badge guide, Alan Griffiths, a regular guide at Gloucester Cathedral, kept us well informed throughout the day with an interesting introduction to both churches.

The first visit was to Saint Alphege, the red sandstone parish church of Solihull which was built in the Early Gothic and Perpendicular style and sits at the end of the High Street at the top of Church Hill Road.  Here there is some beautiful stained glass by Kempe, with the south aisle containing a Resurrection window of ten lights.  A further example of his work can be seen in the west window.  To the north of the chancel lies the two-storey Chantry Chapel where in days gone by the priest used to live!  Particular thanks must go to David Patterson, the St. Alphege guide, who gave a fascinating explanation of the various architectural changes made to the church down the years.  This was made all the more understandable thanks to the intricate model he had made of the different styles.  How he remembered which part went where was really quite remarkable!

Afterwards we adjourned to ‘The Bull’s Head’ in the nearby village of Wootton Wawen, for a delicious and very enjoyable lunch with Pimm’s which gave everyone the opportunity to mingle with members from other Societies.

Our day was completed with the visit to our second church, Saint Peter’s in Wootton Wawen.  This superb church is situated in the centre of the village opposite the pub and set back from the main Stratford-upon-Avon to Birmingham road. Saint Peter’s is really three churches: at the heart of the church is a Saxon secret sanctuary with modern stained glass in the north wall by Margaret Traherne, who also designed the Chapel of Unity window at Coventry Cathedral.  The north wall of the nave is Norman and the chancel and south aisle are Early Gothic in style.   The walls of the chapel have traces of wall paintings and there are some 17th and 18th century monuments. St. Peter’s has a long connection with King’s College Cambridge and over 500 years after their patronage began they are still playing their part in dedicating new oak choir stalls in the nave.

Our thanks for the day must go to all of our guides: our main guide Alan Griffiths and David, Martin and Tim at St. Alphege’s and Shirley at St. Peter’s.  They were all most informative, very helpful and eager to impart their knowledge of the history of their respective places of worship.  I would also like to thank the members of Arden who helped on the day and also Wendy Devlin, a former Arden Programme Secretary, who was very helpful with assisting with initial enquiries.

Maria Graham
September 2019

Images by Lynn Welsher and Carolyn Trevor-Jones.  Click here to view ...