St James’ Church, Cardington, Church Stretton. SY6 7JZ

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Click to read the Open letter from the Bishop of Hereford, April 2013



CHORAL EVENSONG - Every first Sunday of the month 6.30 pm to 7.30 pm.  The form of the service is based on the traditional prayer book and has a particular resonance, beauty and assurance in these troubled times.  The music often reflects this.  The choir often works hard to produce an anthem suitable for the occasion.


If you think that you might enjoy starting (or ending) the week with a contemplative service of this nature, then I commend it to you.


John Shepherd, Choir Master


Cardington is a conservation village and one of the prettiest villages in the county, nestling with its outlying hamlets under Caer Caradoc in the beautiful upland hill country of South Shropshire.


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Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: C:\Users\David\Documents\Cardington website\Church\1px.gifClick here for Church Finance Report 2013







This account is a condensed summary of the research carried out by Min Bland; it should not be seen as the summary of a completed historical research project.



Church Stretton

15 February 2006




(Grade I listed building)


The church of St James at Cardington stands in the centre of the village on ground raised slightly above the surrounding lanes.  Recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 'Cardintune' was held by two persons both named Austin before 1066.  It is not known whether there was a church before the present one was begun at some time in the twelfth century.  The stone building is mostly coursed rubble and has a tower, nave and chancel showing evidence of Norman, Early English and Gothic architecture.  The castellated tower is visible from whichever direction the village is approached.


In the second half of the twelfth century the village become known as Templars' Cardington having been given in 1167 by William FitzAlan to the Knights of the Temple of Jerusalem whose preceptory in Shropshire was at the nearby manor of Lydley Hayes.  There were 34 tenants who paid a small sum each year for the privilege of living under the protection of the Poor Knights of Christ.


The first known vicar was Arnolf in 1185 but there is also recorded a married priest called Inard or Quand who, with his wife, Mathilda, paid a small sum each year to the Templars.  It is interesting because priests at that time were not supposed to marry.  In 1308 Templars were suppressed and the Order disbanded. Their possessions of Lydley Hayes and Cardington were presented to a similar order, the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem or Knights Hospitallers, but by 1316, the Knights of St. John had returned the gift to Edmund FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel.  (The subsequent history is entertaining but must be reserved for the fuller edition.)


The eastern part of the NAVE is thought to have been built in the second half of the 12th century.  A blocked doorway and a window survive in each side wall.  It was extended westward towards the end of the century with new north and south doorways.  The north doorway, now blocked, has a tympanum which may have been re-used from an earlier position and reversed though Dr. Cranage thought it might have been a millstone.  It can be seen from outside the church.


In the 13th century the long CHANCEL which replaced a smaller one, and the lower part of the TOWER were added and it can be seen that both are externally as wide as the NAVE.  The CHANCEL has a restored triple lancet window in the east wall and a single and a two light window in each side wall.  The Priest's Door in the north wall has a very strong wooden bolt and between this door and the single light window an aumbry or 'cupboard' is set deeply in the wall for keeping the sacrament and oil.  On the opposite wall there is a double cinque-foiled piscina for washing the chalice and the priest's hands.  This was discovered during restoration work to the tomb of Judge Leighton who died in 1607 and whose effigy nearby performs the useful function of supporting a leek at the time of Harvest Festival.  Three sons and five daughters, one of whom died in infancy, kneel at the base of the tomb.


In the 14th century three two light windows were inserted in the NAVE, one in the north side and two in the south, and in the 15th or early 16th century an upper stage and battlements were added to the TOWER and roofs to the NAVE and CHANCEL.   (One wonders what protected the congregation from the elements before this event.)  The roof of the CHANCEL has tie and collar beams with quatrefoils between the purlins and that of the NAVE is similar but with braces instead of quatrefoils.


The PORCH was built in 1639 and bears the date and various initials carved on a small wooden shield above the gates.  The lower side walls are of stone and the upper part of wooden spindles is now protected on one side by glass and on the other by the notice board.  The churchwardens' accounts for 1717 give an interesting statement: “Pd for proclaiming ye Child that was left in ye Church Porch in Shrewsbury Bridgenorth & Wenlock 0 2 6" and “Pd Widdow Pigg for clothing ye child that was left in ye Porch 0 5 0".  The great door to the church has the date 1648 carved in its wood and the initials RC, Richard Corfield, and other initials WB and CW.


In 1703 a window was inserted in the south wall of the NAVE between the PORCH and the TOWER and in 1741-2 a gallery was placed in the west end of the NAVE.  This was later removed, perhaps in 1867-8 when restoration work was undertaken when a stone wall or screen between the NAVE and the CHANCEL was also removed.  A record shows that there was a dormer window at the east end of the NAVE in 1789 but this may also have been removed in the same restoration.  A Norman tub font with arcaded decoration was replaced by the present one in 1868 as a memorial to the Rev. William Jones Hughes who died in 1865 and was the vicar for forty years.  There appears to be no information as to what became of the original Norman font which may be lying neglected in a nettlebed or forgotten in a farmyard.


The Jacobean pulpit is curiously embellished with five carved panels showing what are said to be mermen but could they, perhaps, depict symbolical fishermen?  Three of the creatures have similar fish tails and two are slightly different although like each other.  There is a carved wooden panel against the wall over a shelf.  Records show that a faculty, or license, was obtained in 1685 to move the pulpit and reading pew from the north to the south side where there was more light but, as can be seen, the pulpit is now back on the north side.  Damage may have been incurred in the shifting or perhaps the move was never actually accomplished.  The reading pew was replaced in 1910 with a lectern in the form of the traditional eagle.  A fine carved panel of the Crucifixion in the centre of the front of the altar was taken originally from the pulpit.  The Elizabethan pews have been repaired and restored and many of them are marked with the carved initials of members of the congregation.


In the CHANCEL a wooden reredos was placed behind the altar in 1897 which obscures part of the beautiful Early English window and could perhaps be better admired in another part of the church.  The wall behind the altar is covered with brightly coloured glazed tiles with the words "DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME" in the middle and two saints on either side.  Grapes and ears of wheat adorn the words.  Below this, resting on the altar, a long rectangular piece of wood has the words "HOLY HOLY HOLY" carved on it and in the centre, on a block of wood, is a carving of the Crown of Thorns with three nails and a hammer.  The raised block is for supporting the Cross.  These embellishments, with the decorative tiles on the floor, must have been part of the restoration and improvements of the last part of the nineteenth century.  It would be interesting to discover the maker of the tiles.  The tiles in the NAVE are much older and there are four in the floor by the font decorated in the encaustic manner of medieval times showing a leaf much like that of Ranunculus Repans which rampages through my garden.  The tiles were carved and then clay of a different colour was pressed into the design.  They are sometimes still made today.


The TOWER houses six bells.  Originally there were three beds for three bells hung in line on a medieval timber "A" frame and rung from the vestry floor.  It is thought that the frame may be the oldest in England.  In 1985 a new ringing gallery incorporating the organ platform was installed in the vestry space.   The new pipe organ was installed in November the same year.  Entries from old records show that in 1553 there were three bells, in 1740 four, and in 1752 five. It then appears that in 1887 the old treble, and third (originally cast in 1740 and 1630 respectively), were recast to make a ring of four.  There is no mention of a fifth bell and it appears that it had been removed some time in the late 18th or early 19th century.


In 1981 the old ring of four were completely restored by Taylors of Loughborough, and installed in the clock room in an iron frame with new fittings.  This new frame was installed beneath the old timber frame, which was retained in situ because of its medieval origin.  On 2nd September 1985 a stone, let into the jamb of the west window and engraved with a set of old belfry rules and dated 14th February 1755, was removed by the Tower Captain and re-positioned in the ringing chamber where it can be more easily read and heeded.  In 1990 two new trebles were cast by Taylors, thus making a ring of six.  They were dedicated on All Saints Day, 1st November 1990.  Then in 2005, thanks to a generous legacy from Kath Cooke, a long-term resident and past bellringer of Cardington, a further two trebles were added, again by Taylors, completing the ring of eight.  These were dedicated by the Bishop of Hereford on 5th February 2006.


The new pipe organ was dedicated on 29th April 1986 and marked with a glorious recital by Boy Massey.


The TOWER also holds the clock and an article from The Wellington Journal and Shrewsbury News of April 27th 1889 reports on the dedication of the new clock at Easter of that year which suggests there was an earlier one: "On Monday a fair number gathered to assist in the service of dedication of the new clock.  As the hour of noon arrived the pendulum was started by Mr E Sayer, of Plaish Hall, and all the inhabitants were unfeignedly glad to hear once again the time tolled forth from the church tower".  Afterwards "All present then adjourned to the Schoolroom to partake of cake and wine on the invitation of the Rev T L Tudor Fitzjohn, where a vote of thanks was passed to Mr Sayer for starting the clock, the vicar and churchwardens, and to all those parishioners and friends who have so generously contributed to the fund."  Cake and wine are still enjoyed in the Schoolroom on those occasions when there is something to celebrate.


There are various memorials in the church, some rather difficult to decipher, but one to Roger Maunsell on the north wall of the NAVE records his charities of 1693 and there are two brasses with skulls and crossed bones in the CHANCEL.  The one on the north wall is to Thomas Norris who died April 21st 1753 and on the opposite wall is one to Ann Tipton, 8th August 1788.


The CHURCHYARD surrounds the church and has five gateways, two with small wooden gates at the top of steep steps on the east side and three with larger wooden gates.  The one on the south side is the Funeral gale and the one by the War Memorial is known as the Wedding gate.  This gale and the one on the west side are dedicated “In Memory of Audrey Evelyn Hutchinson 1905 – 1981”.  The War Memorial has the names of fourteen men of the parish who gave their lives in the 1914-18 war, and a stone on the north wall of the CHANCEL bears the name of Stephen Thomas who died in the 1939 - 1945 war.  There are a number of old tombstones in the churchyard and many of the inscriptions are barely legible.  On one is a carving of doves' heads and two have verses recording the deaths of children:


"Always suppose thy death is nigh

And seek to be prepared to die".

Mary Painter March 15th 1877.


On walking round the churchyard and observing the church from the outside it may been seen where some of the changes and extensions were made through the ages, where doorways were closed and windows were opened.  High in the east wall of the CHANCEL above the Early English window is what appears to be a blocked window, rectangular on the outside and square on the inside.  Many questions remain unanswered.




The church was dedicated to him by 1542.  He is often represented as a pilgrim with the emblem of the scallop or cockle-shell, the 'Coquille St-Jacques', but he is also shown with a sword and may be seen on the right of the altar in the decorative tiles next to St. Peter who holds the Keys.  The other two saints hold books, the one next to the alter is St. Andrew and the other is St. John.  The church celebrates St-James' Feast Day on 25th July.


In Memory of W D B