The church with a family chapel
The Church of St Nicholas is the parish church of Mavesyn Ridware, a largely rural area comprising the hamlet of the same name along with the equally small hamlets of Pipe Ridware, Blithbury and the larger village of Hill Ridware. These are ancient settlements, referenced in Domesday Book of 1086, and St Nicholas’ Church has a picturesque setting close to Mavesyn Ridware Old Hall and its Gatehouse, a magnificent timber framed building dating from 1391-92 and boasting one of only two crown post roofs in Staffordshire.
Mavesyn Ridware has about a dozen buildings and is in a conservation area near the River Trent. It comprises the church, several farms, a few houses, the old manor house, gatehouse, former rectory with a Tithe barn.
St Nicholas Church, a Grade 1 listed building, was originally a typical three aisled Staffordshire parish church. The nave, chancel and south aisle were demolished and replaced by a Georgian “Preaching Box” in 1782; the interior was ‘Victorianised’ in the 1870’s to better reflect the then liturgical orthodoxy. It is part of the Benefice of the Ridwares, Kings Bromley and Yoxall, a group of four Churches each with its own identity but with a common purpose: to maintain Christian worship. Set in the heart of rural Staffordshire, St Nicholas has been doing this work for nearly 900 years, having been founded in circa 1140 and being the home of an important collection of manorial heraldic items including funerary hatchments.
The ‘Trinity aisle’, the oldest part of the church with evidence of its Norman origin, became the mortuary chapel for the lords of the Manor and houses tombs from the Mavesyn, Cawarden and Chadwick families, including the Crusader knight Sir Henry Mavesyn. It is home to three late Georgian alabaster bas reliefs recounting the end of the Mavesyn families of Ridware and Atcham Shropshire as well as the famous skirmish between Sir Robert Mavesyn and Sir William Handsacre leading up to the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403. The church is a hidden gem and of national importance.
The lovely peaceful Churchyard has several memorial benches and a Garden of Remembrance where many parishioners come and sit to reflect and enjoy the peace of the Church and its environment.