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Church of Saint Alkmund, Whitchurch Urban

Description: Church of Saint Alkmund

Grade: I
Date Listed: 1 May 1951
English Heritage Building ID: 260599

OS Grid Reference: SJ5409641713
OS Grid Coordinates: 354096, 341713
Latitude/Longitude: 52.9708, -2.6850

Location: B5398, Whitchurch, Shropshire SY13 1LL

Locality: Whitchurch Urban
County: Shropshire
Country: England
Postcode: SY13 1LL

Incorrect location/postcode? Submit a correction!

There is also a scheduled monument, Sun-Dial in St Alkmund's Churchyard, at the same location as this building or very close to it. This may be related in some way or possibly a different name for the same structure.

Listing Text

SJ 5441
west side)
8/45 Church of Saint Alkmund
1.5.51 (Formerly listed under

Parish church. 1712-13, by John Barker (1668-1727) of Rowsley, mason
William Smith of Tettenhall. Restored in 1877-9 and 1885-6, further
altered internally in 1894 and 1900-1902, and porch rebuilt in 1925.
Red sandstone ashlar with some details in grey sandstone ashlar. Slate
roof. 6-bay nave with 3-bay apsidal chancel, south porch and integral
west tower. Nave and chancel: moulded plinth, raised quoins, frieze
with half-H panels above windows, moulded cornice, and coped parapet
set back with balustrading above windows. Tall round-arched small-
paned cast-iron windows (some replaced with C19 stained glass), each
with surround consisting of cill and half-H panel beneath, pilasters
with raised and fielded panels and moulded capitals,and moulded architrave
to arch with raised keystone. Two windows flanking west tower. Cement-
rendered blind oculi above south and north doors with moulded architraves
and raised keystones. Round-arched south doorway in western bay consisting
of plain architrave with plinths, impost blocks and raised keystone,
pair of oak doors, each with 10 raised and fielded panels, and radial
oak tympanum with 6 raised and fielded panels. Semi-circular south
porch with 2 stone steps, 3 round arches with impost mouldings and raised
keystones, and unfluted pilasters between (with uncarved capitals) support-
ing entablature and balustrade with square dies. South doorway beneath
window in second bay from east has pair of oak doors, each with 3 raised
and fielded panels, and moulded architrave, becoming chamfer in plinth.
Round-arched north doorway in western bay consisting of plain architrave
with plinths, impost blocks and raised keystone, pair of oak doors, each
with 8 raised and fielded panels and radial oak tympanum with 6 raised
and fielded panels. Door approached by 2 flights of red sandstone steps,
10 to left and 11 to right, with square piers, and plain parapet with
rounded coping, balustraded to centre. Boarded door beneath steps.
Inscribed sundial on wall above and to left of south door, with wrought-
iron gnomon. Remains of C18 or C19 painted memorial on apse, with fluted
pilasters, open triangular pediment with urn in tympanum and painted
inscription. Tower: 4 stages. Moulded plinth, corner chamfered quoin
strips, moulded cornice to first stage, moulded string courses to slightly
set-back upper stages, cornice to belfry with half-H panels above belfry
openings and balustrade with square dies, large urn corner finials with
weathervanes, and smaller intermediate finials. Round-arched belfry
openings each of 2 louvred round-arched lights with the mullion running
up into the apex of the main arch, moulded architrave with cill, impost
blocks and raised keystone. Third stage with paired round-arched niches,
each with plain architrave, impost blocks and keystone; round-arched
small-paned cast-iron window to east with plain architrave, impost blocks
and keystone. Oculi in second stage, each with plain architrave, raised
keystones and radial glazing bars. Tall round-arched small-paned cast-
iron first-stage window with surround consisting of cill and half-H
panel beneath, pilasters with raised and fielded panels and moulded capitals,
and moulded architrave to arch with raised keystone. Carved stone coat
of arms in round-arched recess in third stage to south. Clock in
belfry with wooden faces to north and south dated 1977. The tower breaks
forward slightly to the west producing a 1:1:1 bay rhythm to this front.
Square-section lead downpipes (the lower sections appear to have been
replaced in glass fibre). A stone gutter runs around the body of the
church at the base of the walls. Interior: refaced in stone in 1900-
02. 5-bay Tuscan aisle arcades (half columns at ends) with tall pedestals,
and round arches with moulded architraves and raised keystones. Tall
blind tower arch with moulded architrave and raised keystone. Windows
with continuous impost band and raised keystones. Moulded cornice to
nave, breaking forward over keystones. Ceiling consisting of coving
to rectangular panel with cable-moulded border and 3 circular panels
within, 2 to west with gilded and painted anthemion and palmette enrichment
and one to east with pair of gilded winged putto heads. Flat roofs
over aisles. Stone nave floors. West doorway (to vestry) has pair
of large C18 doors with 10 raised and fielded panels each, and large
wooden doorcase consisting of moulded architrave with panel above,fluted
columns with acanthus capitals and unfluted Doric pilastersbehind, panelled
soffit, frieze, and dentil cornice. Side doorways (to porch) have pairs
of c.1900 inner doors (C18 outer doors) with moulded architraves and
round relieving arches. West gallery between nave columns, resting
on pair of unfluted wooden Doric columns, and front with frieze, cornice,
and raised and fielded bolection-moulded panels. Returns have balustrading,
circular newels with globe finials and pendants, and moulded handrail
(probably reworked when side galleries were demolished). Raked seating.
Central and side doors to gallery, with pairs of 8-panelled doors, stone
lintels and round relieving arches. Apse redecorated between 1900 and
1902. Four unfluted Corinthian pilasters supporting sections of entablat-
ure and continuous modillion cornice, moulded plinth, and painted ceiling
with stars, and sun to front; soffit to front with stars in square panels.
Windows with lugged and shouldered moulded architraves, blocks above, and
marble in walls beneath. Black and white marble flooring. North and
south porches: pairs of C18 oak doors into nave, each with 10 raised
and fielded panels. C18 semi-circular oak staircases (north and south)
with 900 turn at foot, each with closed moulded string, turned balusters,
sweeping moulded handrail and square newel posts with moulded caps and
pendants. Balustrade to west windows too. North porch with boarded
door to bell-chamber stairs. Fittings: dating from the C17 to the
C20. Reredos and altar in memory of Lieutenant C.F. Dugdale; painted
and gilded wooden altar with carving and inscription; reredos with stone
base on large carved brackets, 3-sided framework above with figures on
posts, and central niche. Flanking carved wooden candlesticks with
armorial devices. Altar rails with turned balusters, square dies and
moulded handrail. Choir stalls of 1885 in eastern bay of nave with
raised and fielded panels, carved scrollwork and fronts with colonnettes.
C19 carved wooden eagle lectern. Probably early C20 wooden lectern
(behind organ at time of survey - November 1986) with tapered square-
section Ionic column. Various carved wooden seats etc. Profusely-
carved C19 hexagonal wooden pulpit in a C18 style with raised and fielded
panels, panelled corner pilasters, square base with scrolled brackets,
and curved flight of steps with open string, attenuated barleysugar
balusters (2 per tread), swept handrail and wreathed newel. Lady chapel
in eastern bay of south aisle in memory of the Revd. W.H. Egerton.
Oak screen with raised and fielded lower panels, obelisks and scrollwork
above, and central shield with flanking strapwork. Inscription to frieze.
Left-hand side screen consisting of square piers with carved capitals
and doorway with architrave, frieze, cornice and gate with turned balusters.
Jacobean communion table with C19 marble top. C19 red sandstone reredos
with carved panels and painted inscriptions. Painting of the Last Supper
above, attributed to Bonifazio Veronese (1491-1553). Organ of 1715
in eastern bay of north aisle,removed from west gallery in 1894; sumptious
case has bolection-moulded panels to base with flanking fluted pilaster
strips, top with much carved pierced scrollwork, convex centre piece
and taller flanking convex outer pieces, all with carved winged putto
heads at base and moulded cornice to top; swept pipes between. Topped
by central carved angel with trumpet and palm frond. Left-hand side with
3 bolection-moulded raised and fielded panels and carved friezes. Pews
with raised and fielded panels to ends, probably incorporating parts
of former box pews removed in 1862. Octagonal red and yellow sandstone
font of 1661 beneath gallery; step, cable-fluted stem with chamfered base,
bowl with fluted underside and carved panels with alternating fleur-
de-lys and rose motifs, and pyramidal wooden cover (said to be of 1713
but looks C17) with strapwork and finial. C18 octagonal marble stem
(now in southern vestibule) with moulded square base, slender stem and
cable-fluted bowl. Probably early C18 iron-bound chest at west end
of north aisle. Pair of C18 brass chandeliers. Table formed from
hexagonal tester of former C18 pulpit. Three C18 benefactors' boards
at top of southern stairs, 2 with bolection-moulded architraves and one
with round-arched top and impost mouldings, 4 benefactors' boards on
west wall above"ghLlbi, and further d8 probable benefactors' boards
in north porch with bolection-moulded frames etc. Pair of C19 Commandment
boards on north aisle wall. Vestry: C18 raised and fielded dado panelling,
and cupboards. Carved wooden Royal coat of arms with carved surround,
medallion of Queen Anne above,and the initials "P.T." on small shield
at base. Large painted (probably on wood) royal coat of arms beneath
with frame consisting of panelled pilasters and moulded cornice. Loose
carved wooden shield, possibly from C18 monument. Stained glass: some
reused old glass in north aisle windows. 3 south aisle windows and
apse windows of 1860, that in apse signed by Warrington. Monuments:
chest tomb in south wall, to John Talbot, first Earl of Shrewsbury, d.
1453, restored in 1874 by Adelaide Countess Brownlow, daughter of the
18th Earl of Shrewsbury. C15 praying effigy with dogs at feet. C19
chest and arch. Chest with moulded plinth and 7 quatrefoil panels with
carved motif in centre. Moulded arch above with square ball-flower ornament,
and crocketed ogee hoodmould with finial and carved shield in tympanum.
Tablet to right of south door recording the burial of the embalmed heart
of John Talbot beneath the porch (present tablet erected 1873). Chest
tomb in north wall, to Sir John Talbot, founder of the grammer school
(q.v.) d. 1550. C16 alabaster effigy of praying knight. C19 chest
and arch. Chest with 3 ogee cinquefoil niches and 2 foiled panels in
lozenges. Four-centred arch springing from pairs of short shafts with
pierced cusping and crocketed ogee hoodmould with finial. Tablet on
west wall beneath gallery to Matthcei Fowler, d.1683. Drapery held
apart by 2 putti standing on skulls, scrolled pediment above, and base
with 2 scrolled acanthus brackets flanking winged putto head with skull
and cross-bones beneath. Further C17 and C18 memorials, including brass
plaque on north wall to Mathew Fowler, d.1677. Reset C18 momorial
panels behind organ. Various C19 monuments. Brass plaque to left
of south-west door, in memory of Sir Edward German, born in Whitchurch
in 1862 and died in London in 1936. Mosaic war memorial on west wall.
Clock in tower by Joyce's, the famous Whitchurch turret clockmakers.
Old drawings and photograph of the church in the vestry. The side galleries
(demolished in 1972) were notable in that they appeared structurally
unconnected to the columns by running behind them. They were fixed
only at one point at the rear of each column (see blocked sockets).
A church is first recorded on this site in 1089. It was the C15 tower
of the old church that collapsed in 1711, necessitating complete rebuilding.
Wooden plaque to left of south-west door with painted inscription: "The
Old / Church fell ye 31 of July. 1711 / The Foundation of this Church /
was laid the 27 of March. 1712 / and Consecrated the 8 of Oct. / 1713
in the I year of the / Reign of Queen Ann". Smith was contracted to
erect the present building to Barker's design, who was himself sub-contracted
to carry out some of the carpentry and joinery. Saint Alkmund's was
the prototype of a number of C18 churches. The churches of Saint Modwen,
Burton-on-Trent (1719-26) and Saint Giles, Lincoln (c.1720-4), both by
William Smith (1661-1724), clearly display its influence. The Church
of Saint Alkmund stands in a commanding position at the top of the High
Street, forming part of an important group. B.o.E., pp. 313-4; D.H.S.
Cranange, An Architectural Account of the Churches of Shropshire, Part
8, pp. 735-39. Colvin, pp.88-9 and p.752; Kelly's Directory of Hereford-
shire and Shropshire (1900), p.279; Kerry Downes, English Baroque Architec-
ture (London, 1966), p.107 and ill 447; Michael Moulder, Shropshire. A
Shell Guide (London, 1972), p.145; David Jenkins, Parish Church of Saint
Alkmund. A Short History and Guide (1978).

Listing NGR: SJ5409541713

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.