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Description: Church of St Mary
Date Listed: 21 May 1987
English Heritage Building ID: 155643
OS Grid Reference: SO5114831187
OS Grid Coordinates: 351148, 231187
Latitude/Longitude: 51.9770, -2.7126
LITTLE BIRCH CP -
SO 53 SW
5/47 Church of St Mary
Parish church: 1869; Entirely rebuilt by W Chick. Squared rock-faced
sandstone and sandstone ashlar with limestone dressings. Tiled roofs with
cresting and large bell in western bell cot. Four-bay nave with north aisle,
north porch and south organ chamber. One-bay chancel with polygonal apse.
High Victorian Gothic in-Geometrical style. West elevation has a large 4-
light traceried window with a two-centred head. Each light has a trefoiled
head; the tracery has an octofoil and a pair of quatrefoils: Moulded label
and foliated stops: Kneelers to gable verge running into base of gabled bell
cot with weathered sides, two-centred arch with continuous roll mouldings and
moulded label with stops: Inner arch is trefoiled and gable carries a cross.
To right of west window is a weathered angle buttress. To its left is a weathered
pier buttress dividing the nave from the 2-light quatrefoil-traceried window of
the south aisle, each light of which has a trefoiled head: West side of porch,
and opposed window, has a pair of roll moulded traceried lancets each with sub-
sidiary trefoiled light and a trefoil in tracery above. North elevation of
porch has two-centred arch of three orders, the inner two with part-octagonal
shafts, the imposts of which run into outer order and on into weathered diagonal
buttresses: Tops of inner orders have small trefoiled heads. Broach stops
to bases of jambs. Small trefoil-headed niche above arch. Gable cross. Roof
has swept braces to collars above which are curved V-struts. Brattished wall-
plates; North doorway has deeply moulded two-centred arch of two continuous
orders, the outer are roll-moulded with fillet. Label and foliated stops.
Ledged oak door with elaborate strap hinges. North aisle has three pairs of
trefoiled lancets, each light separated from its twin by an attached column.
Two weathered buttresses separate each pair of lancets. Diagonal buttress
to left-hand sided Moulded cornice and enriched rainwater head. North side
of chancel has trefoil-headed doorway and continuous roll moulding with fillet.
Moulded label with foliated stops: Ledged oak door with scrolled strap hinges
into vestry. Above the vestry is a partly obscured window consisting of a
round outer arch containing a quatrefoil above two short trefoiled lights.
East side of vestry has plate tracery with a trefoil above two trefoiled lancets
and a label with foliated stops. Apse windows have two trefoiled lights and
multi-foils in tracery. Labels and stops. Diagonal weathered buttress: Four
griffons as waterspouts at angles. Wrought iron roof cross: Organ chamber
has large south gable. Window has two trefoiled lights, quatrefoil tracery,
label and headstops with heads of a king and queen: Above are three roll
moulded lancets under rock-faced round relieving arch. One lancet to each
return, both with recessed trefoiled head: South elevation of nave has three
traceried. windows each with two trefoiled lights: Middle window has quatrefoil
in tracery with label and head stops. Outer windows each have a trefoil, label
and foliated stops. Moulded limestone eaves cornice with acanthus decoration
to rainwater head. Three weathered buttresses: Interior has six-bay nave roof
with trusses formed of collars with curved V-struts, supported by curved braces
rising from wall posts on facetted corbels. Aisle roof has similar arrangement
of corbels, but with single slope. Chancel roof has radiating ribs on carved
corbels, all foliated except for four, with angels, one either side of east
window and one each to north and south walls. Vestry roof has trusses with
curved V-struts to east and west walls. Roof of organ chamber is panelled.
Arcade of two-centred moulded arches in two orders on circular piers with
moulded capitals. Voussoirs are in limestone of alternating light brown
colours, probably Bath and Ham stone, a theme continued around the windows,
apse panels, chancel arch and its shafts. Chancel has aumbry in north wall.
Trefoiled head on a pair of marble columns with foliated corbel beneath ci11.
Foliated stop to left and hoodmould which continues as string around apse
and south side. In angled eastern walls beneath the string are a pair of
stone inlays each with two superimposed interlaced trefoils. On east wall
of apse beneath the window is a cross set in a panel richly carved with foliage
and ears of wheat. Continuous roll-moulded trefoil-headed doorway into vestry
has ledged oak door, scrolled strap hinges, label and foliated stops. To left
of the door is triangular headed shouldered opening into the vestry. The
shoulders are supported on foliated capitals which extend rearwards throughout
the thickness of the wall. The opening has ornate wrought iron bars and rails.
Candelabrum hangs from centre of chancel roof. Wrought iron with two crested
circular rings one above the other. The upper ring has three candleholders;
the lower, six. Stained glass has floral and geometrical patterns but no
figures. The only inscriptions "XHC" and "IHS" are above the vestry in small
tripartite window. Altar has two mid-C19 candlesticks with ball-finials to
sides: Communion rails are oak with foliated ends to either side of entry and
scrolled wrought iron supports. Small oak two- to three-seater choir stalls
with benches and desks. Six trefoiled panels to desks. Two-centred moulded
chancel arch with label and head stops and king and queen, on clustered two-
coloured shafts with fillets and foliated capitals. Richly decorated wrought
iron trefoiled chancel screen with gates and overthrow has three bays. On
the top of the screen and overthrow are enriched finials and seven candleholders
rising to the centre. Decoration includes wrought iron leaves. Low gates have
two leaves with central cross-in-circle attached to one. Vestry has shouldered
triangular headed arch to north aisle like a larger version of the opening into
the chancel. In the arch is another wrought iron gate with rich decoration.
Late C17 to C18 oak communion table in vestry has moulded stretchers and rails:
Arch into organ chamber is large with triangular shouldered head, five deeply
carved orders and label. Each jamb has a grey shaft with waist-band. Beneath
arch is open pine panelled screen with trefoiled lancets, arranged 2:4:2. It
isdivided by turned shafts and has a quatrefoiled frieze: Or an has two manuals,
exposed polychromatic pipes, brass sconces and woodgrained finish to case.
Pulpit is oak, part-octagonal with ball-flower frieze and two brass and wrought
iron three-branched candlesticks trefoiled panels, enriched with symbols of the
Evangelists, and mounted on large clustered shafts beneath frieze with dog-tooth
decoration: Stairs to pulpit are supported by dwarf shafts. Font has round C12
bowl with rope moulding. Restored base and stem. Stained glass has patterns
similar to that of chancel. Oak lectern has enriched shaft and opposed book
wedges. Eleven wrought iron and brass candlesticks about six feet high and
with waistbands, distributed around the nave and south aisle. Again they are
in the same style as the rest of the ironwork. All the candlesticks have
three candleholders, except the two to the front of the nave, which have five.
The Church of St Mary is a finely detailed and complete example of High Victorian
Art with a fine ensemble of wrought ironwork. (BoE, p 235; RCHM Vol I, p 22).
Listing NGR: SO5114831187
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.