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St George, Beaudesert

St Nicholas's church at Beaudesert sits strangely close to it's neighbouring parish church, St John's in Henley in Arden, in fact a mere one hundred yards east of it; each is easily visible from the other, barely a stone's throw apart, and separated only by the narrow River Alne. It is the smaller of the two buildings, but architecturally and historically arguably the more important, with much of the present structure dating back to the Norman period, and still clearly showing in the structure of the chancel and the magnificent (if somewhat restored) south doorway.


The bulk of the building is in fact 12th century work except for the west tower, which is entirely 15th century Perpendicular and not fully aligned with the rest of the building. One of the most noticeable features is the way the chancel rises above the nave, to take into account the sloping site the church is built on. The east window has fine Norman decoration similar to that of the south door.


The richly decorated chancel arch is the real architectural showpiece of the interior, along with the contemporary chancel beyond it that has survived complete without later alteration other than a 14th century window enlargement on the south side. The vaulted ceiling however dates only to the 1865 restoration, but looks entirely at home with the original work, specifically the pilasters and corbels that support it which seem to have been designed to carry a structure like this, thus it is most likely that the Victorian masonry has finally completed the original 12th century builder's vision, which may have been constrained by budget.


The furnishings are mostly Victorian or later, save for a couple of simple 15th century bench ends with coats of arms. The stained glass is entirely Victorian and most importantly includes some early work by the studio of William Morris, fairly early work by Morris & Co dating from 1864-5. All these windows are quite restrained by their later standards, of their more Pre Raphaelite, Rosetti-influenced phase, with isolated figures on decorative backgrounds of painted quarry glazing, deliberately light and subtle in palette to avoid darkening the interior.


The church is most rewarding for it's Romanesque features and pre Raphaelite glass, and is normally kept open for visitors (except for my last visit when I found it locked).


For more detail and images see this church's entry on the new Warwickshire Churches website below:-

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Taken on September 4, 2006