St Quiricus and
If you look at the parapet, on the top of our church tower, you will see carvings on each face that illustrate the story of St Quiricus & St Julietta – a little boy and his mother – who were martyrs in the early 4th century at the time of the Roman Emperor Diocletian.
It is a most unusual dedication (there are only two others in this country, one each in Devon and Cornwall), but it wasn’t until late Victorian times that we celebrated the two saints with the carvings. Of course, the church itself is much older than that, dating back to the late Saxon/early Norman period – with additions from almost every century since then.
Let us look at some of those features. You will enter through the massive south door, which together with the porch, was added in the 13th century, and will notice what many visitors find to be one of the church’s most attractive features: the walls throughout are of plain dressed stone (the covering plaster was stripped away when the church was restored in the 1870s) and there are no intrusive wall monuments.
The tall, narrow nave, and much of the chancel date back to the 11th century and are possibly pre-Conquest, although the plain chancel arch is clearly Norman. Take note of the two rows of arches that were cut through the original walls of the nave in the 13th century, when the North and South aisles, and the Lady Chapel were built.
Only one arch, on the south side, has any decoration – perhaps it once faced a chantry altar in the South aisle, but for decoration you should look at the Lady Chapel (usually called the ‘Bave Chapel’ after the former local family, some of whose members are buried here). If you can, look up at the series of curious wooden roof bosses in the chapel – including what seems to be a ‘green man’. More important are the two small painted glass panels of the early 14th century. On the East window is Christ Triumphant, and on a window of the South wall of the chapel is a remarkable and distinctive image of Christ on the Cross.
Moving across to the North aisle you will see the stone effigies of three 13th century members of the Fitznicholas family (a branch of the Berkeleys). Above them the windows contain fragments of 14th century glass.
Now return to the nave and look at the fine Jacobean pulpit. Above it, on the east wall, is an opening that led, in pre-Reformation times, to a Rood loft (the associated squint, or hagioscope remains on the north side). Also on the east wall is the Royal Coat of Arms, which replaced the Rood; it dates from the Restoration period of the 1660s.
The west tower of the church was built in the late 15th century, with the turret, ornamented parapet and panels being added 400 years later. The six bells, which are regularly rung, date from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Before you leave, look at the solid square font, which has been in use since the late 13th century.
There is much more that the curious visitor can find, from what may be consecration, or even crusader, crosses cut into the doorway, to the carved stone corbels that support the roof of the south aisle. And this is not all; as you walk around our church you realise just how much there is from every century to justify the church’s Grade I listing.
But above all, do not forget that we do not live in the past: the church of St Quiricus & St Julietta has been enlarged, restored and improved down the centuries – not as a monument, but to remain true to its essential purpose: providing a home where its congregation can worship Jesus Christ and proclaim the Christian faith.
For further information including geneology enquiries please email the Church Office.