All Saints Church

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Culmington’s All Saints Church is a gem – one of the oldest churches in Shropshire.

Without doubt it is the most distinctive church in Shropshire with its aluminium spire placed where normally a conventional stone steeple would be.

It is open all day every day for both simple visits and those who seek private prayer. The entrance to the church and churchyard is at the point where the village road bends sharply and is between the large farmhouse and the farm buildings. The church and approach access is wheelchair friendly.

We can seat comfortably about one hundred people. More  if one "sits familiar" !
 
For details of  our service times and types see our local magazine "Ripples" published monthly or the Church Notice Boards.
 

 Enquiries about baptisms, weddings, funerals etc for Culmington should be made to the

           Corvedale Group of Parishes at

Revd. John Beesley

St Michael's Rectory

Munslow

Craven Arms SY7 9EU

01584 841488

revjbeesley@gmail.com

 

 

 

Date of each month Time Service Using
1st Sunday 11.15 a.m. Holy Communion Common Worship
3rd Sunday 6.00 p.m.. Evening Prayer Common Worship
4th Sunday 8.30 a.m. Holy Communion Book of Common Prayer
5th Sunday Joint service with other parishes in the area, by rotation. See church noticeboard or Ripples magazine for details

 

 

 

Church History

 

 

 

Culmington Church has, by some, been mistaken for a rocket-launching site or a secret radio-transmitting station. Certainly its aluminium spire is unique.

In 1956 the lead cap over the stump of the spire had become porous so it was decided to replace it with the present aluminium structure, which was lowered in place by helicopter. The spire is the most recent addition to the church which dates back to late Saxon or early medieval times – i.e. some time in the mid 11th century. William the Conqueror may well have seen it if he travelled in the vicinity.

Painted by John Homes Smith in 1827
Artistic licence was taken to paint in a spire.

The church was originally entered through a south porch which was removed and the opening blocked sometime in the early 19th century. The church is built of local stone and consists of a nave and chancel in one, mainly of the 11th century (although the chancel appears to have been lengthened a hundred or so years later). A west tower, with an unfinished stone spire of the early 14th century and a vestry on the north side, was added in Victorian times.  

The north and south walls of the nave are distinctive in being built in masonry laid in a herringbone pattern – an indication of a very early date and similar to the church in the adjacent parish of Diddlebury. The windows are mainly of the 14th century, although two small round-headed windows in the nave are 11th century, whilst the present east window is of about 1865.

Our small parish has managed to raise large sums of money to keep the church in good repair. There was a major restoration in 1865 when the present east window was inserted. Further work was undertaken in 1969 when the roof was repaired and the aluminium spire finial added. An extensive programme of work was carried out in 2006 and 2008, involving complete re-roofing (including much repair and replacement of timbers), renewal of the floors in the tower and new gutters, downpipes and drains. This was made possible with a large grant from English Heritage and grants from many other bodies such as the Historic Churches Preservation Trust, the Shropshire Historic Churches Trust, the Wolfson Foundation and the Millichope Foundation, together with the gifts of many parishioners and friends.

When you walk into the church there are several items of interest to note: 

  1. Above the inner door into the church  the hatchment, a lozenge-shaped coat-of-arms, is for a member of the Johnstone family, Lords of the Manor of Culmington in the 18th and 19th centuries.
  2. The unusual roof structure of the nave and chancel, probably of late medieval (AD 1500) date, spring from carved wooden corbels two of which are in the form of grotesque faces.
  3. The rood screen – a very precious survival. It dates from the 15th century and is one of only a few to survive the Reformation in AD 1534 and later restorations.
  4. To the right of the screen is a small doorway leading to a staircase giving access to the top of the screen. Before the Reformation in Henry VIII’s reign the screen would have been surmounted by a large cross (or ‘rood’) and various parts of the Mass would have been conducted from here
  5. The two fonts. The one in the entrance is Victorian. The one in the nave is Norman (about AD 1150) and came from Burwarton Church when that church was closed.
  6. There are two piscinas (basins where the vessels used in the Mass or Holy Communion are washed). The one in the nave is missing most of its basin and may have been where the church originally ended before being extended in about AD 1200; that in the chancel, to the right of the altar, is a particularly fine double piscina (two basins) under an elaborate canopy of about AD 1200.
  7. The fine tomb-recess on the south wall of the chancel, with carved ball-flower ornamentation may once have housed a tomb.
  8. The small low window near the tomb-recess, perhaps a squint or hagioscope, from which the high altar could be viewed by those not able to take part in the Mass.
  9. The chest in front of the rood screen, where the church records would once have been kept.
  10. The remains of wall-paintings on the north wall, probably 16th or 17th century have been over-painted at various times and depict the Ten Commandments.
  11. The stained glass windows. The east window (above the altar) depicts scenes from the Life of Christ and was given in memory of Rosetta Sandeman who died in Calcutta in 1865. The central window on the south side of the nave is particularly good and depicts St Michael and a Christian soldier. It was made in 1901 by the firm of T F Curtis, Ward & Hughes and was given in memory of Captain Gordon Wood, killed in the Boer War in South Africa in 1900.
  12. Monuments: several in the chancel are to members of the Johnstone family, former Lords of the Manor of Culmington. The rather primitive monument between the vestry door and sanctuary commemorates Ralph Greaves (died 1630) and his wife Margaret (died 1638). Greaves was rector of Culmington from 1578 to 1630 and on his death his family left money to endow an exhibition (scholarship) at Balliol College Oxford, for pupils at Ludlow Grammar School and Shrewsbury School. Other monuments in the church commemorate James Woodhouse, members of the Downes and Syer families and Thomas Camell, who died in 1747 at the great age of 96.
  13. On the north wall of the nave are war memorials commemorating those from the parish who fell in the Boer, First and Second World Wars.
  14. The single-manual organ was originally built by Ingrams of Hereford for Aconbury Church near Hereford. When that church was closed, the organ was acquired for Culmington Church and rebuilt by P W Hutchins of Coleford in 1973-74. See this page.
  15. The three bells in the tower, recast by Thomas Clibury of Wellington Shropshire one in 1629 and two in 1663. They are hung for full ringing in their original frame. People wishing to ring the bells should contact one of the churchwardens. It is hoped one day to add two or three more bells.

A new path to the church was laid in 2009. It is an improvement over the grass approach especially on wet occasions.

Work on repairing and partial rebuilding of sections of the dry-stone churchyard wall has been carried out by the charity Caring for God’s Acre as part of the series of courses it runs on various aspects of churchyard conservation. Further work, especially to the windows, is now required. All donations towards the church’s upkeep will be very gratefully received.

 If you wish to know the names of all the rectors who have been assigned to All Saints since  the year 1223  then click here.