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Allesley and its Church

Allesley, (say it with the first "e" silent to avoid the locals saying, "Where?" if you ask for directions!  Alls-lea is about right), is a largish village on the North West edge of Coventry, trying hard not to be swallowed up by the city itself! Within the parish the well known "Jaguar" cars used to be made.

The church is Norman in foundation, but it has been much modified over the centuries; "The Victorians" carrying out a major restoration that much changed the church as it previously stood.

At All Saints we ringers have charge of a ring of 8 with a tenor of exactly 12cwt (1344 pounds or about 600Kg) in the key of G#. The band has historically been quite strong. It is now perhaps one with a worryingly high average age. Currently we are starting to struggle for numbers and would benefit from an influx of new or returning ringers. Methods from the basic level to Surprise Major are rung on the practice night, depending upon the number of visitors.

Visiting ringers are most welcome to join us for service or practice ringing. Please do come along!

To find out more about what is happening at Allesley church at the moment you may like to visit the Parish Website

Church History

The church of is built on the rising ground to the north-east of the Birmingham road where this enters the village from Coventry. It is approached by steps and a long ramp which ascends the bank by the road, and consists of chancel, with a vestry adjoining, nave, north and south aisles, south porch, and west tower with a spire.

The 12th-century arcade on the south side is all that remains of the church built c. 1130. The tower and spire were erected or rebuilt in the 13th century and the north aisle was added in the 14th, when the chancel may also have been rebuilt. The vestry and porch are new, and the chancel and south aisle were completely rebuilt in 1863 when the whole church was restored. Both the new and ancient walls are of red sandstone.

The east wall of the new chancel is flanked by pairs of square buttresses with deep chamfers finishing 5 ft. below the base of the gable, which is surmounted by a stone cross. A small, glazed, trefoiled light pierces the gable above a large five-light east window with geometrical tracery. The plinth consists of two plain chamfers. The south side is divided into two bays by a single buttress of similar type, and each bay contains a two-light window with a trefoiled circle in the head. The eaves are open and carried on a plain chamfered line of corbels. On the north the wall is covered as far as the angle buttresses by the east bay of the north aisle.

The modern south aisle is equal in length to the nave and is similar in treatment to the chancel, with a three-light window in the east gable wall and in each of the two eastern bays of the south wall, with geometrical tracery. A porch divides these windows from a single lancet window on the west side. The buttresses are similar to those of the chancel but are diagonal at the angles. The south porch has a doorway with a two-centred head carried on heavy attached shafts with foliated caps. At the foot of the gable parapet the kneelers are supported by small twin shafts incised into the angles. The west gable of the aisle has a two-light window with trefoiled lights, and, in the gable, a circular window, quatrefoiled with a second circle of tracery within. Set diagonally between this wall and the south wall of the tower is a modern, plain, two-centred doorway to give access to the tower vice, above which it weathers back into the angle, topped by a leafy finial. The left jamb is brought forward 1 ft. from the face of the tower to accommodate a buttress.

The east gable of the north aisle contains an original 14th-century three-light window set immediately above a string-course with a rounded top and underside chamfered, stretching across between the modern square buttress of the chancel to the south and a 14th-century diagonal buttress on the angle. The plinth has two plain chamfers, the upper projecting with a drip, and the gable parapet is covered by a restored plain coping with a gable cross; the kneelers have small gablets. The window is of two chamfered orders; the cusped head of each light is lancet shaped and filled with a minor tracery-bar supported on a cusped ogee minor head growing from the chamfers of the main bars. The north wall of this aisle is divided into four bays by buttresses similar to that on the north-east angle. The eaves are open with rafters carried on a corbelled course of stonework, all renewed during the restoration. The second bay from the east angle is filled between the buttresses by a new vestry, whose north wall is gabled with a central chimney; the east wall has a square-headed mullioned window, and the west wall a doorway with a two-centred head. The remaining three bays each have a window, the two to the west being two-light with their tracery of new stonework resembling the original window in the east wall, but with a circular centrepiece above with quatrefoil cusping. That to the east bay is three-light and similar to the east window, the spandrels in the head being uncusped, but all the tracery has been renewed. The renewal of stonework in the western bay has been more extensive on account of a doorway beneath the window having been taken out and blocked with masonry; its position is marked by the return ends of the plinth, 4 ft. apart. The north-west angle is similarly treated with a diagonal buttress and the window in the west gable resembles those of two lights in the north wall. The gable is similar to that at the east and lines up with the east wall of the tower.

The tower has two stages divided by a continuous splayed offset. The buttresses are square and massive, two at each angle. Each has a deep top splay reaching to within 2 ft. of the offset and has two further splayed front-face offsets between this and the plinth. The latter is made up of two splays which return round the buttresses. To accommodate the west doorway the upper plinth-splay is cut and the lower is returned into the wall face. The doorway is small and of two orders with a two-centred head upon shafted jambs, and it appears to have been built during the restoration. The inner order is chamfered and continuous with that of the jambs ending on chamfered stops. A mould is cut on the angle of the outer order, which descends on the abacus of the foliated capitals, which, like all the detail of the doorway, are of 13th-century type. There is a hood-mould with a rounded top hollowed underneath which stops on foliage bosses. There is a tall window stretching from a point 2 ft. above the apex of the doorway to a distance of 7 ft. from the offset. It is twocentred and contemporary with the tower, although portions of the head and the single mullion have apparently been renewed. The hollow-moulded hood is carried on two head-stops. There are two chamfered orders carried on a splayed sill. The head is equilateral and contains a circle of tracery with pointed cusps forming a quatrefoil. The head of each light is trefoiled in a similar manner. A little above the offset is the sill of a smaller window which also appears to be of the same period, though the hood-mould and head-stops are new. The single hollow-chamfered mullion divides to meet the head and to form the two lights, each of which has an apex placed between the line of the window jamb and the centre-line of the light. The unevenly balanced head of each light is trefoiled, but the pierced central spandrel above is not cusped. The belfry two-light windows are unglazed and contain boarded louvres on all four faces of the tower. They have two-chamfered orders and possess no hood-mould; they are similar to the lowest window on the west face. Above them is a corbel-table consisting of a large hollow-mould containing a row of nine corbelled heads, animal and human, inclusive of those inclined at the angles, which have lead spouts. Above is a small level parapet topped by a roll surmounting a double splay.

The north face contains two openings only, both above the offset and similar to those on the west. The plinth returns against that of the north aisle, which is 6 in. higher. A block of stone with splayed top projects from the tower wall near the north-east angle, but there is no other trace of a buttress on this angle. On the south face, the plinth stops against the modern walling, forming the door-jamb referred to above, which goes up to support an ancient buttress of the same projection but which overlaps this support by 9 in. on the west side. This extra width is held up on an ancient corbel, two stones deep and built up of two hollows, the edge between them having a rounded fillet. Two plain slitlights piercing the buttress light a part of the vice. The top splay matches those of the other buttresses, but there are no offsets below. Another slit-light occurs immediately to the west of the top offset. On this face is a 19th-century iron clock dial. The two windows above the offset are similar to the others; and a feature in common to all is the curious break in the vertical alignment of these upper windows. On the west face all the openings are apparently on the centre-line except that between offset and belfry, which is placed some 6 in. to the north; on the north face, the same window is drawn 6 in. to the east, and on the south 6 in. to the west, the belfry window above always being central.

The spire is octagonal and there are plain broaches at the four angles. Spire-lights occur at three different levels and upon alternate sides: (a) immediately above the parapet and facing the cardinal points, having two plain chamfered orders rising into lancet-shaped heads, each window containing two lights filled with louvreboards; they are gabled out from the spire slope with slightly projecting verges having a roll apex and drips at the shoulders; (b) on each alternate face mid-way up the spire (similar to a but smaller, having only a single order and without louvres); (c) upper lights, again to the cardinal points, of small size and without mullion or louvres. A foliated stone finial bears a gilded wroughtiron weather-vane at the spire apex.

In the modern chancel the sandstone frames all the openings, but the remainder of the wall is plastered. The trussed rafters forming the roof are exposed. The east window and that immediately to the south have modern stained glass. Oak panelling round the sanctuary embraces an aumbry on the north side which may be part of an original wall. This has two squareheaded openings with a square mullion between them. A projection from the rear of the mullion, which is curved underneath, assists in the support of the stonework above. On the south side there is a piscina (modern) and a window-seat. There is a two-centred arch, having an inner chamfered order resting on heavy foliated corbels, which overlooks the east bay of the south aisle. The chancel arch is similar, but with its inner order supported on half-columns having similar capitals.

An old picture of the interior

The east bay of the north aisle is screened off in the west by a modern oak screen (unpierced) for an organ chamber and choir vestry. The north arcade has three two-centred arches of two chamfered orders supported on two octagonal piers and half-octagonal responds with an outer chamfered order. The east bay has been restored, but those to the west appear to be of the 14th century, and the two original bases are octagonal with roll mouldings. The moulded capitals are all similar and have fluted neckings opening out with a plain face to a fillet with a roll-moulding over, separated from the hollow-moulded abacus by a sunk billet enrichment.

The nave has no clearstory and the roof is modern, being open and of the trussed-rafter type. The walls are treated in the same manner as the chancel except for a patch of exposed masonry above the tower arch. The arcade opening on to the south aisle is also of three bays, but that to the east is modern, being similar to those opposite, except that in place of the free-standing octagonal pier there is a semi-octagonal jamb built on to a larger pier, 2 ft. 6 in. wide, which separates this bay from two 12th-century bays to the west. The latter both carry semicircular arches of two plain square orders, the inner arch-ring being the deeper. The east 12th-century respond has a capital which is square at the top and equal in thickness to the pier it adjoins; there is a plain chamfered abacus above. The lower portion of the capital is scalloped, the grooves between the scallops at the angles are plain, but all the remaining grooves are filled with ridged projections; the necking is a heavy roundel which returns round the angle of the wall and is then cut off. The base-mould of the circular shaft consists of a slightly rounded chamfer carried upon a square base block without spurs. The centre column is similar except that the diameter exceeds that of the responds, being equal to the full thickness of the wall, and the capital has no groove on the angles as there are angle-scallops. The west respond is exactly similar to that on the east. The west tower-arch is lancet shaped and consists of two heavy chamfered orders. The caps are moulded with a rounded necking and a plain field above, swelling into an undercut rounded mould supporting grooved fillets. The abacus above has a rounded edge with a central fillet. The base consists of two roll mouldings divided by a fillet.

In the south-west corner of the nave, piercing the west wall, is the original doorway to the vice; it is twocentred with a single chamfered order and contains the original door with wrought-iron strap-hinges. It is now disused and is covered by the pews.

The south aisle windows are glazed with stained glass in each end gable. When the aisle was rebuilt it was evidently extended by one extra bay eastwards, (fn. 43) and the east wall of this is now faced with an inscribed oak-panelled war memorial.

The inner doors of the south porch and the doorway with its two-centred head are modern, the exterior jambs are shafted, and the two exterior moulded orders of the arch are framed by a hood-mould.

All the roofs and floors are modern.

A modern stone and marble font stands opposite the south door and beside the round 12th-century pier. Modern and 18th-century wall monuments adorn the south aisle. Similar monuments of the 18th century are against the north and south walls of the north aisle; one on the north side, dated 1684, commemorating a servant of the family of John Lacon, is rectangular and surrounded by an architrave which is supported on two consoles. More of the late 18th century are at the west end of the north and south nave walls and under the tower. All the furniture in the chancel is modern.

The registers of marriages and burials begin in 1562; those of baptisms in 1569, but the earliest volume is imperfect. There are many 18th-century tombs in the churchyard and a few elm trees of great age. The Rectory adjoins the churchyard to the west, and its spacious front garden runs parallel with the churchyard and down to the main road where a picturesque 18th-century brick arbour with an oriel window overlooks the steep bank.

From: 'Parishes: Allesley', A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 6: Knightlow hundred (1951), pp. 3-8. URL:


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