St Michael's Architecture
St Michael’s is the oldest church in the parish of Winchcombe, which itself is an ancient Saxon borough. The church dates back to about 1175, when John le Petit, also known as Roger Little in English and Roger Parvus in Latin, built it as the chapel for his new family estate centring on the manor house next door.
It is built on a classic Norman design, consisting of a nave and a chancel. The north door, with chevron mouldings, zig zag and star ornament, and the chancel arch (now very lopsided!) are particularly highly regarded. The south door, where we enter for services, is also Norman, though plainer than its northern neighbour.
In an 1849 article in The Architectural Journal the Rev J L Petit said, This chapel, though small, is a most picturesque and interesting edifice. The Norman work is good and very pure. I should say of an early date.
The same article noted that Over the chancel arch there is a bell-turret of two pointed arches under a gable. The arch is semi-circular, of two orders, the inferior, plain without a chamfer; the superior, with chevrons on the western face, a label, and a shaft at the edge of its impost.
The original Norman round baptismal font was reshaped into an octagon in the 13th century, and the rest of the building has been remodelled over the years. The major restoration was carried out in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Sir Philip Stott. He may have added the east window as this doesn't appear in the 1849 Petit article.
The perpendicular window in the west wall and the piscina, used for washing communion remnants, are probably from the 15th century. The two bells are probably 15th or 16th century replacements for the originals, which were mistakenly removed in 1549 as part of Henry VIII’s suppression of the monasteries and other religious sites.
There may have been a minstrel's gallery at the back of the church but only a beam remains. The major restoration was carried out in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Sir Philip Stott.
By long-standing agreement, there are no headstones in the churchyard, but there is a map showing the location of graves on the wall inside the church.
Click [HERE] to learn about the other historic buildings in Stanley Pontlarge, including the house where Tom and Sonia Rolt lived as they set about revitalising Britain’s canal system and steam railways.
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