St Laurence - Ansley, Warwickshire
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member SMacB
N 52° 31.846 W 001° 34.423
30U E 596749 N 5821030
Quick Description: St. Laurence Church is situated at the centre of the Parish of Ansley.
Location: West Midlands, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 4/23/2017 6:18:51 AM
Waymark Code: WMVHY3
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Dorcadion Team
Views: 0

Long Description:
"St. Laurence Church is situated at the centre of the Parish of Ansley. There are approximately one thousand dwellings in the parish in three centres of community, Ansley Common, Ansley Village and the smallest hamlet Birchley Heath, with under 100 homes. Both Ansley Common and Ansley Village contain houses specifically built to house coal miners and their families. Miners from the Common and the Village worked in the pits in the area namely, “Ansley Hall”, “The Tunnel” and “Arley”. There are also many outlying farms and cottages scattered around the parish, which is part of the former North Warwickshire Coalfield.

Ansley Hall Colliery was sunk in 1878, it did not become a profitable venture until William Garside Phillips arrived from Yorkshire and took charge. After his death in 1929 his son Joe, ran the business until the nationalisation of the coal industry when the family left the parish. Ansley Hall Colliery closed in 1959 followed by other local pits. The residents of Ansley have gradually found employment in surrounding towns and cities.

The parish originally formed part of the estate of Countess Godiva of Coventry. After the Norman Conquest it came into the hands of the de Hardreheshill family. Their possessions descended to the Culpepper family of Kent about 1370. After the demise of Thomas Culpepper by Henry VIII, the Ludford family, who had been stewards of the Culpepper’s, became eminent in Ansley until the end of the 19th century.

Apart from agriculture, which has always been present, the main source of employment before mining was ribbon making for the Coventry silk industry.
The Church

Although not mentioned in the Domesday book, archaeologists tell us that the oldest part of the Church’s stone work is outside on the south side of the chancel under the larger of the two windows. This is thought to date from 1050, which seems likely as Lady Godiva had several other churches founded at this time, and they too are also dedicated to St Laurence. It is thought that these churches were dedicated to St. Laurence because her trusted friend Abbot Laurence commissioned those churches to be built.

In the reign of King John, the Church was given by William de Hardreshulle of Hartshill to the nuns at Polesworth. The patronage of the Church stayed with the nuns until the Reformation, when it was given to the Crown until 1883.

A large part of the south wall of the nave and part of the chancel are 12th century although sections have been rendered. The doorway arches at the south entrance, and on the north wall outside are Norman. The wooden door on north side was not made for that opening but altered to fit at a different time. The chancel arch is also Norman, the top of the pillar on the northern side of this arch shows a man among trefoiled leaves being devoured by a dragon and a lamb; the forces of good and evil.

The stone coffin set in the north wall is from the 13th century and could be that of a child, or the entrails of a Crusader. This was discovered in 1894 in the original north wall. The nearby lancet window is also 13th century and now contains a 20th century memorial to the Heaton family. These items together with the doorway were moved to their present site when the north aisle was added in 1913.

The stonework of the low light windows of the chancel are different on the two sides and together with the larger windows are 14th century, the coloured glass being mostly 19th century.

The tower and the clerestory are of the 15th century although the pinnacles on the nave were added in the 18th century and those on the tower replaced in 1975, and reconstructed in 2006. The tower contains three original bells dated 1580, 1609 and 1669. These were augmented to six and all rehung in a new frame in 1978. See the brass plaque on the South wall.

In 1760 John Bracebridge Ludford had the Ludford family pews placed in the chancel, and their servants’ pews below. A new “altar room” was built with the family vault beneath. The 15th century reset window could have been the former east window and contains some very old glass. The painting of the altar piece, depicts the visitation of the angels to the shepherds, but the artist is unknown. The semi-elliptical communion rails are also of the 18thcentury. The Ludford monuments can be seen in the chancel with the two stained glass windows. The funeral hatchments in the nave and tower are also in their memory. The nave was also re-pewed at this time and a seating plan was drawn up for worshippers. (N.B. There is a notice placed by Rev. W. Couch in 1924 in the porch stating “All seats in this Church are free”)

The Rev. Charles Heaton, incumbent 1892 – 1924, carried out many alterations, with the church again being re-pewed, the aisles tiled, and a new pulpit and font being added. The old porch was turned into the vestry and the present porch constructed in place of the old vestry.

The North Aisle was also added in 1913 at a cost of £1,100. Mrs Heaton spent 10 years embroidering the white altar frontal and two falls which were completed in 1907 and still much in use today.

In 1930 after the death of W.G. Phillips, the gallery was reduced in size and the vestry screen changed to their present proportions. The west window, given in his memory, depicts St Laurence on the left hand side being roasted on a grid iron. The children offering gifts at the nativity are his three grand children.

The pulpit was moved to its present position and the chancel aisle widened in 1975. At that time the removal of the wall panelling and the lowering of the Ludford pews to their current level revealed the two low light chancel windows."

SOURCE - (visit link)
Building Materials: Stone

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