Elmdon

Historic county: Warwickshire

St Nicholas

Elmdon church is an 18th-century rebuilding of a medieval church. It is well hidden in Elmdon Park among trees that were formerly part of the parkland of Elmdon Hall. 

St Nicholas' church website

The church's own website is to be found at http://www.elmdonchurch.org/.

 

You might also be interested in A History of Birmingham Places & Placenames . . . from A to Y - Elmdon - http://billdargue.jimdo.com/placenames-gazetteer-a-to-y/places-e/elmdon/.

 

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The medieval church from T F Onley 1952 'Elmdon and the Church of St Nicholas' courtesy of Richard Huss
The medieval church from T F Onley 1952 'Elmdon and the Church of St Nicholas' courtesy of Richard Huss

 

A small medieval parish church stood here from at least 1297 when Edmund de Whitaker is recorded as priest. This stood until the 18th century when the manor of Elmdon was bought by wealthy Birmingham ironmaster, Abraham Spooner. 

 

In 1780 he began rebuilding the Tudor Elmdon Hall in neo-classical style - it was completed in 1795 by his son Isaac.

Elmdon Hall from John Hannett 1894 'The Forest of Arden'
Elmdon Hall from John Hannett 1894 'The Forest of Arden'

In 1781 Abraham Spooner also had the medieval parish church rebuilt on its original site, effectively making it the hall's estate church.

 

The house fell into ruins after the Second World War was demolished in 1956; the parkland was opened by Solihull Council as a public park whose car park marks the site of the house.

 

The new neo-classical church was designed by John Standbridge, architect of Charlecote House and Moseley Hall - it is not known who built the Elmdon Hall.

 

The church of St Nicholas is built in a simple Gothic style and consists of a chancel, five-sided apse, nave, and west tower. Although Gothic, typical 18th-century features included a plaster ceiling, box pews and the pulpit placed along the north wall.

 

Additions and alterations were made in 1864 and in 1880 the church was restored and made weatherproof. The ceiling was also removed and the present panelling installed.

 

In 1972 a large extension was added to the south of the church with open access to the nave. While not entirely in keeping with the rest of the building, it provides a useful and flexible space, effectively a church hall built as part of the original church.

 

Abraham Spooner is commemorated by a contemporary monument recording his rebuilding of the church. 

 

From the old church a 17th-century carved chair with a box seat has been placed in the chancel. Also four medallions of enamelled glass from the old church replaced in the south-east window of the nave in memory of the Canon Hayter, Rector 1892–1934, and his wife Alice, one representing the Last Supper and the others figures of Faith, Hope, and Charity. The glass medallions appear to be of mixed dates: one is dated 1532 and thought to be Flemish, the other three somewhat later, said to be Italian and dated circa 1630.

 

The communion plate includes a chalice, flagon and three patens, all made by London silversmiths Peter & Ann Bateman. These were given in 1795 by Barbara, wife of Isaac Spooner, mother-in-law of slavery abolitionist, William Wilberforce MP. 

 

The parish registers date from 1538, the very year from which parishes were compelled to keep records.

 

The Bells

There are two bells hung for tolling, cast by Thomas Hancox of Walsall in 1631 (1681?) and Henry Bagley of Chacombe, Northamptonshire in 1675. They were brought from the old church and rehung in the new tower of 1781. Two bells are listed in the 1553 Commissioner's report and it is likely that the present bells are recast from those earlier ones. The bells were rehung for swing chiming by Taylor's of Loughborough in 1972. 

 

Elmdon Church GALLERY

All the photographs below are the copyright of Richard Huss and reproduced from the Elmdon church website; they are used here with his kind permission.

 

Other centres under Elmdon parish are St Stephen’s Centre in Coppice Road and the Valley Centre in Gaydon Road, Solihull.

 

Acknowledgement - See British History Online - Victoria County History of Warwick Volume 4 Hemlingford Hundred ed. L F Salzman 1947 - http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/warks/vol4/pp67-69.

 

This is a Grade II listed building whose record can be found on the

Historic England website - https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1031384.

 

My thanks to Richard Huss for showing me round and for a wealth of information about the church.

 

William Dargue 29.12.2015