Warwick, St Nicholas Church
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: 15th-century memorial brass
The beautiful 18th-century church of St Nicholas stands on the north bank of the River Avon, opposite an entrance gate to Warwick Castle and beside the old road from Banbury. It is unusual in that few churches were built in the late Georgian period.
The church we see today, with its striking spire, was begun in 1779 on the site of an earlier medieval church, itself built on the site of an even earlier Saxon nunnery, which burned down in 1016.
During the early medieval period, Warwick had two parish churches, St Mary and St Nicholas. St Mary's parish included the entire walled town and extended to the west, while the parish of St Nicholas took in the land to the east and north of the walled town and extended to include the area south of the river.
St Nicholas' Church was subordinate to the collegiate church of St Mary's and the dean of St Mary's appointed vicars until the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
The Georgian church was designed by the architect Thomas Johnson of Warwick and consisted of an aisled nave, chancel, and the old tower and spire. The chancel was rebuilt in 1869. The total cost of the rebuilt church was £1,500, born by a mix of loans, private contributions, and the sale of pews.
The Georgian building is an excellent example of Gothic revival architecture, with slender columns supporting a vaulted plaster ceiling, creating an interior full of space and light. The original Georgian apse was filled in during the Victorian restoration, which divided the apse into two floors.
The most interesting memorial is a 115th-century brass to a former vicar named Robert Willardsley (d 1424). This is behind a protective glass covering and is set on the south wall.
Perhaps the most impressive monument is to Katherine Stoughton, who died in 1724. Stoughton's epitaph makes for fascinating reading. She died at just eighteen, leaving behind two daughters, which means she must have married very young. Her epitaph goes on to tell of a troubled family life in these words:
'She was the daughter and Sole Heiress of Samuel Tipping of Lincoln, Esq., son of Sir George Tipping of Draycott in Oxfordshire. She departed this life in the eighteenth year of her age & left behind two daughters Dorothy and Katherine, dear lovers of their Father, and the most unkindly used by the Instigation of a cruel step mother, yet the greatest malice could not charge them with one act of Undutifulness to either of them. The youngest daughter erected this monument in memory of her dear Mother who, tho[ough] her life was short, was such an example of true Piety, Charity, and Chastity, that she died lamented by all that knew her.'
Another wall tablet commemorates Samuel Jemmat (d 1713) who served as the vicar of St Nicholas' Church for 46 years and as the Master of Lord Leycester's Hospital for 41 years. Another tablet remembers Aaron and Bridgetta Rogers, who died in 1709 and 1708 respectively.
It is well worth climbing up to the meeting room that now occupies the upper floor of the Georgian apse, where you can get an extremely closer view of the stained glass in the huge east window.
St Nicholas' Church is considered the official church of Warwick Castle, and the Earl of Warwick acts as the church patron.
The church is set back from Banbury Road (the A425) and is immediately west of the St Nicholas Park car park. It is on the east side of the A429/Castle Hill roundabout opposite the western gate of Warwick Castle. The church is extremely easy to reach on foot from the major tourist sites of central Warwick.
About Warwick, St Nicholas Church
Address: St. Nicholas Church Street, Warwick, Warwickshire, England, CV34 4JD
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: On Banbury Road (the A425) just north of the bridge. The St Nicholas Park car park is immediately behind the church.
Website: Warwick, St Nicholas Church
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
Warwick East Gate - 0.1 miles (Historic Building)
Warwick Castle - 0.2 miles (Castle)
Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick - 0.3 miles (Historic Church)
Lord Leycester's Hospital - 0.4 miles (Historic Building)
Warwick, East Gate and St James Chapel - 0.4 miles (Historic Building)
Stoneleigh Abbey - 4.5 miles (Historic House)
Kenilworth Castle - 4.6 miles (Castle)
Hampton Lucy, St Peter ad Vincula Church - 5.3 miles (Historic Church)
Nearest Accommodation to Warwick, St Nicholas Church: