Yanworth, St Michael's Church
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: 12th-century Norman font
The delightful country church of St Michael stands in an idyllic setting amid farm buildings - including a medieval tithe barn, on the edge of Yanworth, looking out across a wide green valley to the mansion of Stowell Park. This Grade II listed building dates to the 12th century.
At the west end of the nave is a low, castellated tower built in the 15th century. The north wall has original Norman windows, with narrow lancet openings and wide, deep splays, and there is also a blocked 12th-century doorway. The 2 west windows are Perpendicular, probably from the 15th century.
One of the first things you notice on approaching the church is a lovely table tomb in Cotswold 'woolsack' style to the east of the porch. This type of tomb is common in the Cotswolds and is a reminder that much of the region's wealth came from the wool trade.
The Civil War casts a long shadow in this area, and there is a sobering reminder of the war at Yanworth. Against the east wall of the north transept (around the back of the church) are a series of large pock-mark holes in the wall.
These are said to have been made by Civil War musket fire. A local story suggests that 6 Royalist soldiers escaped from the Battle of Stow-on-the-Wold in March 1646. They were killed and buried at Yanworth in a mass grave, in unconsecrated ground within the churchyard. No one knows the site of the supposed grave.
Inside the church, the first thing you see is the wonderful 12th-century font at the west end of the nave. This simple font is decorated with a rope pattern around the rim of the bowl. Interestingly, according to the church guide, the font originally did not have a stem; it was set on the floor to allow adults to stand and have baptismal water poured over them.
On either side of the tower arch, above the font, are a series of wall paintings. On the south side of the arch is a confusing jumble of paintings from 2 distinct periods. The most obvious feature is an early Elizabethan cross within a circle. More interesting - and easier to make out - is the painting on the north side of the arch. Here you can see a skeleton holding a scythe - a depiction of Father Time, who comes for us all.
Set on a window sill in the south wall is a carved stone cross-head, found in the churchyard and brought inside for preservation.
The barrel-vaulted nave roof is 19th century, but it is carried on lovely stone corbels of medieval date. These show human heads with a variety of fascinating expressions. Even more expressive is a wonderful carved head on the north transept arch, depicting a woman with her hair drawn back under a headdress.
Near this wonderful carving is a squint allowing a view of the altar from the transept. On the other side of the 12th-century chancel arch, almost hidden by a 19th-century wooden screen, is a deeply incised cross cut into the stone.
Yanworth's church is a delight, located in a spectacularly beautiful area of the Cotswolds. The church is usually open daylight hours. If you fancy a walk, do what our family did and stroll down the valley and up to Stowell Park, where the 12th-century church beside the manor house has a fabulous 12th-century Doom wall painting. A mile away in the direction of Chedworth stand the remains of a Roman villa (National Trust).
Address: Church Lane, Yanworth, Gloucestershire, England, GL54 3LG
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: On the southern edge of Yanworth village. Parking along the verge. Usually open daylight hours.
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
Stowell, St Leonard's Church - 0.7 miles (Historic Church)
Chedworth Roman Villa - 1.6 miles (Roman Site)
Hampnett, St George's Church - 1.7 miles (Historic Church)
Coln St Dennis Church - 1.9 miles (Historic Church)
Chedworth, St Andrews - 2 miles (Historic Church)
Northleach, St Peter and St Paul - 2.1 miles (Historic Church)
Compton Abdale, St Oswald - 2.1 miles (Historic Church)
Coln Rogers Saxon Church - 2.7 miles (Historic Church)
Nearest Holiday Cottages to Yanworth: