Whichford, St Michael's Church
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: 16th century tomb of John Mertun
The parish church of St Michael dates to the mid 12th century. At that time the manor of Whichford was in the possession of the de Mohun family. William de Mohun and his wife Agnes gifted the church here to the Augustinian priory of Bridlington, in Yorkshire. It remained in the possession of the priory for the next 150 years until it reverted to the de Mohuns.
The original 12th century church was quite a bit smaller than the building you see today; it filled only the space now occupied by the nave and part of the chancel. The only feature of this Norman building still surviving is the south door, which features a lovely carved tympanum. Around 1200 the west tower was begun and a north aisle added. This expansion of the church coincided with the building of a small castle only a quarter of a mile to the west by the de Mohuns.
The most interesting features of the church interior are to be found in the chancel. Against the north wall is the tomb of John Mertun, who was rector of St Michaels from 1507-1537. The tomb consists of a simple stone base carved with quatrefoils, with an alabaster slab on top. This is where things start to get interesting, for the slab is perhaps the finest example of an incised alabaster carving in Britain.
'Here lies John Mertun sometime rector of this chuirch and former chaplain to Thomas Stanley, Earl of Derby who died ..."The date of death is not filled in, so it seems clear that the tomb was prepared during Mertun's lifetime. There is one more interesting aspect to the Mertun tomb; the west end panel shows a carved book, and beneath the book, a pair of spectacles. This is one of the earliest known representations of spectacles in English art.
The south chapel was built by the de Mohuns as a family mortuary chapel. Much of the original architectual detail of the chapel is gone, but there remains a 14th century tomb of John de Mohun set in an arched niche against the south wall. Above the tomb is a representation of the family coat of arms; a cross engrailed, with a mark of cadence meant to distinguish an eldest son.
My acknowledgements to the excellent leaflet 'St Michael's Church, Whichford', by Eric Beresford, in the preparation of this article.
Address: Whichford, Warwickshire, England
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: near the northern edge of the village
Photo Credit: David Ross
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12th century (Time Period) - 14th century (Time Period) - 15th century (Time Period) - 16th century (Time Period) - Augustinian (Historical Reference) - brass (Historical Reference) - castle (Architecture) - Domesday Book (Historical Reference) - Norman (Architecture) -
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
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Rollright Stones - 2.4 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Long Compton, St Peter and St Paul - 2.9 miles (Historic Church)
Little Rollright, St Philip - 3 miles (Historic Church)
Lower Brailes, St George's Church - 3 miles (Historic Church)
Swerford, St Mary's Church - 4.4 miles (Historic Church)
Chipping Norton, St Mary's Church - 4.5 miles (Historic Church)
Swalcliffe Barn - 4.7 miles (Historic Building)
Nearest Accommodation to Whichford: