|The Ironstone Benefice Churches|
|ALKERTON: St Michael and All Angels
Set peacefully to the side of steep wooded valley. Grade 1 listed. Dating back to early 13C. Small and intimate architecture marking transition from Norman to early English. Steep roof replaced by low pitched roof in 14C. Organ chamber added 19C during major refurbishment. Remarkable carved stone frieze along south clerestory – believed to depict life of Edward, the Black Prince. Thornas Lydyat, famous scholar and rector of Alkerton, who died in penury in 1646, is buried in the chancel. Stone effigy of unknown knight in armour on chancel floor.
Access: Steep hill. On street car parking.
|BALSCOTE: St Mary Magdalene
Stands on hill overlooking thatched cottages and the village green. Dating from 14C and largely of Decorated period. Elegant slim lower of 14C with upper storey added 18C. Distinctive south porch. Windows give church much character. Norman font. Unusual elaborate carvings on pulpit by 16C continental wood carver.
Access: Flight of steps from street. On street car parking.
|DRAYTON: St Peter
Quietly secluded in a hollow, encircled by meadow land. Dating mainly from 14C. Simple, un-ostentatious exterior. Unusual tower only slightly higher than roof of nave. Much restored in 19C. Norman font. Several tombs of knights, clergy and parishioners dating back to 13C. Altar tomb of William Greville who died in 1440.
Access: Steep hill. Small car park. Steps down to church. Normally locked – key from Rector.
|HANWELL: St Peter
Picturesque setting overlooking Hanwell Castle with its redbrick tower from Tudor period. Grade 1 listed. Dating from 12C-14C. Norman font. Carved stone figures on capitals in nave. Unusual and unique carved stone friezes on exterior of chancel depicting medieval bestiary – cleaned and conserved in 1996. Monument to Anthony Cope. Cromwell’s horses stabled in church during Civil War, his soldiers damaging various sculptures. Unusual clock with no face.
Access: Level access. Small car park off narrow lane. Alternative parking on main road.
|HORLEY: St Etheldreda
Stands on hilltop overlooking the village. Grade 1 listed. Excellent example of medieval church. Dating from Norman to 13C/14C. Three fine Early English doorways. Large wall-painting of St Christopher, with earliest depiction of rod and line anglers in this country, fishing by light of the stars. Four architectural periods harmonised: Norman walls to chancel and font, through Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular. Two 1?C stained glass windows. Major restoration 1950.
Access: Two steps but reasonably level. Onstreet car parking.
|HORNTON: St John the Baptist
Set in the middle of the delightful village of Homton, which gives its name to the local ironstone. Grade 1 listed. Dating from 12C to 14C. Tower dates from 14C . Notable for its wall-paintings: Black Prince as St. George and the famous “Doom” (Last Judgement) still survive. Brass figures of yeoman and son.
Access: Reasonably level, along very narrow lane. Parking recommended around village green.
|SHENINGTON: Holy Trinity
Stands on hill looking across to its sister church at Alkerton. Dating mainly from 14C, with surviving Norman arch framing organ pipes. Early English arcade also has carved faces, flowers and foliage. Intriguing sculpture on exterior of figure with ox. Church famous for annual custom of “grass-strewing” – floor is strewn with grass for three weeks beginning Whit-Sunday.
Access: Reasonably level from village green: very steep from main road. On street car parking
|WROXTON: All Saints
Set in the delightful thatched village of Wroxton with its former Abbey. Church dating from Decorated period 14C. Tower redesigned and rebuilt 18C. Impressive east window. Lavishly carved chancel depicting Abraham and Isaac. Fine 14C font. Fine continental wood carvings presented by Colonel North of Wroxton Abbey. Carved tomb of Sir William Pope. Lord North , Prime Minister of England, buried here with numerous members of his family. Peal of bells restored 1997.
Access: Flight of steps from street. On street parking.
With thanks to www.orchard5.demon.co.uk for photographs of churches