900 years of history....
It is not known precisely when the church was founded but was thought to be about 1120 AD according to the noted 18thcentury historian Stebbing Shaw. There is some of the Norman masonry still to be seen but the majority of the building dates from the 14th and 15th centuries – the tower from the earlier of these two and the spire from the second. The porch was added in the 19th century.
Internally there is much of interest but particularly the two painted panels thought to originate from the rood screen which was destroyed after the Reformation. These panels are placed on either side of the main altar reredos and are now thought to date from c. 1500. One shows the seven shedding of our Lord’s blood and the other the procession of the cross with St. Mary Magdalene kneeling at the foot of it. Both panels have been heavily scratched and scored – probably done at the time of the Civil War, when everything that had Roman Catholic associations was defaced.
There are small fragments of mediaeval glass in a window in the south aisle – one thought to show the local saint, Werburgh from Hanbury. The windows in the North aisle depict the 12 Apostles with the words of the Apostles’ Creed set over them – these principally date from the 18th century. Other windows are memorials to significant persons in the parish over the centuries.
The most interesting monument is the Cotton tomb on the south side of the Chancel. They were Lords of the Manor from 1375-1530 and contains a number of shields – each of which represents one of the fifteen children of John and Joanna Cotton. The family crest, an eagle on a blue ground, forms half of each shield. In the case of the boys, the other half is filled with a representation of their profession; in the case of the girls, with the crest of the men they married. An interesting reflection on changing social attitudes!
Unhappily the most interesting item in the possession of the church is not on display – that is a 14th century chalice and paten which survived burial in a nearby field to escape the depredations of zealous reformers until its rediscovery by a local farmer in the 19th century. It can be seen in the St Mary’s centre in Lichfield.
Jane Austen’s cousin, the Rev’d Edward Cooper, was rector from 1799 – 1833 and is buried in the churchyard. Jane visited Hamstall Ridware it would seem that it is the scene of Col. Brandon’s estate at Delaford, described in her 1811 novel “Sense and Sensibility”.