St Mary the Virgin - Congerstone, Leicestershire
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member SMacB
N 52° 38.730 W 001° 27.547
30U E 604250 N 5833951
Quick Description: The Church of St Mary, Congerstone, is believed to have been built in 1179. It is now a Grade II* lisated building but it is unlikely that any of the original exists today. The oldest parts of the building are the low tower and parts of the nave.
Location: East Midlands, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 6/11/2016 4:07:55 PM
Waymark Code: WMRD3Z
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Dorcadion Team
Views: 1

Long Description:
"The church is listed grade II; the listing of a building confirms that it has national significance and importance. A grade II listing places it in the top 5% of listed buildings in terms of significance.
It is believed that a church has been on the site since 1179; the first mention recorded by Nichols is in the 1220 Matriculus from which it notes the instigation was by Hugh as Bishop of Lincoln.

The tower and nave contain mediaeval fabric and are recognisable from the 1811 illustration in Nichols. The presence of a north aisle is recorded in Nichols and so the current un-windowed aisle may have old origins.
The listing description states that the older building fabric appears to be 16th century and the chancel was rebuilt in 1884. The first edition Ordnance Survey plan of 1886 certainly shows the rebuilt chancel. However, there are plans for rebuilding the chancel held in the Church Incorporated Building Society archive by William Martin surveyor dated 1830-4. These are not as built as the proposals were apparently changed for a ‘less expensive’ scheme.
The use of cast iron tracery in windows, iron dowels in stone blocks and the general ‘naive’ gothic style suggest a late Georgian or early Victorian date for the chancel construction, rather thanthe date of 1884 suggested in the listing description. Pevsner also gives the date for the chancel as 1834 and ascribes it to Martin. It is possible that the 1884 date is an erroneous mistype.

The chancel is a distinctive and large addition to a small mediaeval parish church. As such, as Pevsner says, the real interest of the building is in the chancel (although some of the peculiarities of the construction of the tower, visible inside the ringing chamber, are noteworthy).The listing description also gives a date for rebuilding of the south porch of 1834; it is certainly rebuilt from after the date of the drawings of 1830-4. It is of stuccoed brick with clay tile roof. Nichols’ 1811 view of the church from the south-east shows the tower the same except for the loss of corner pinnacles; the nave generally the same; chancel and porch rebuilt since.
The church is constructed from the local triassic sandstone, for the most part in ashlar work but with some rubble walling and areas of lime render on the nave south elevation.

Inside -
The pulpit dates from 1921; the stone font appears C19th. The organ, within the tower arch, is a significant internal feature; it was installed in 1914 by Earl Howe in memory of his sister. There is also a monument to Georgiana, Countess Howe, on the north wall of the chancel dated 1916.
An 1830s drawing shows the church with all box pews; now only those along the north wall and in the south-east corner of the chancel remain - elsewhere The Howe family pew is in the north-east corner of the large chancel area and is served by its own fireplace. The Howe family owned the Gopsall Estate, the large house being demolished in 1952 and much of the land now part of the Crown Estate holdings.
Handel was a frequent visitor to Gopsall and is reputed to have composed the Messiah whilst staying at the hall.

Glazing -
Stained glass in the south-west window of the nave dates from after 1913 and is in the manner of Kempe. Stained glass to the south main window of the chancel, in the chancel east window and some painted panels in the narrow lancets to chancel north and south sides, are all Victorian or later. The main windows in the chancel have cast iron tracery and cast iron glazing bars present, introduced into most other windows in the older part of the building, save where stained glass is present. In 2014, a new stained glass window was installed into the main north window of the chancel to replace a plain glazed window. The glass commemorates the work of George Frideric Händel and his links to nearby Gopsall Park. Gopsall Hall was rebuilt in 1750 for Charles Jennens to the designs of Leicester architect John Westley and built by Hiorns of Warwick. Handel was a friend of Jennens and a frequent visitor to Gopsall; it is generally believed that Handel composed at least some of the Messiah whilst staying at Gopsall in 1741, although this would have been prior to the construction of the 1750 house. The window was commissioned by members of the parish, Geoff and Fiona Frisby, to commemorate lost loved ones. Sarah Bristow was the artist commissioned to design the new window.

Restoration work to the frame of the new window was made possible by a grant from the Heritage Lottery.

Bells -
Bells have been re-hung in a steel frame. There are five bells with a tenor 6.2.23 cwt. In 1876 in the Church Bells of Leicestershire (Thomas North) five bells are recorded, all cast by Taylors in 1841 with a tenor in ‘A’.

Outside -
The church lies to the north side of a reasonable large churchyard; now closed but with a cemetery area along the western boundary with only limited visual clues to its being separate from the churchyard proper. The main access to the churchyard is through the decorative ironwork gate screen to the north-east corner of the churchyard."

SOURCE - (visit link)
Building Materials: Stone

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