St Edwards Church Stow-on-the-Wold on Stow on the Wold travel guide
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St Edward’s Church is located in Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, England. The church is noted for its massive fifteenth century south tower, which overlooks both the town centre and the Market Square. Although just a hundred yards from the hustle and bustle of the town square the church is an island of peace and relaxation.

The Church of St Edward, Stow on the Wold, was built between the 11th and the 15th Centuries - with further additions and renovations in Victorian times - on the site of an earlier Saxon church. The present church houses traces of Norman stonework, 13th Century Early English columns and arches, and a south tower and nave clerestory of Perpendicular style.

The 88ft high 4-stage tower, completed in 1447, is a conspicuous landmark with an embattled parapet with pinnacles and a string course with gargoyles.

The stonework within the church has examples of Early English nailhead decorations to the column capitals, and has cable moulding round the tops of the shafts. The nave houses several grotesque corbels and some plain head corbels (probably depicting local dignitaries).

The south aisle houses a large picture of the Crucifixion by the Flemish painter Gaspar de Craeyer, who flourished around 1610. Joseph Chamberlayne of Maugersbury Manor, Stow on the Wold gave the picture to the church in 1875.

Although the five-light West window in the nave is historically more important (view stonework externally), I found the best feature of the interior is the fine Victorian window dedicated to Mr George Hookham who died in 1894. It is a beautiful window, the colours are fabulous, but sadly the intended view of the window is obscured by church furniture.

Externally I found the most striking aspect of St Edward’s is the pair of ancient yew trees flanking the 17th or 18th Century North Porch.

Looking like the lower half of a giant chicken (Sesame Street rings a bell), they demonstrate caution for those who are so eager to fell garden trees to protect their property, as although the pair of yew trees is butt-up against the building they have caused no damage to the porch.

St Edward’s churchyard contains two Bale Tombs - chest tombs with a carving atop that represent a bale of wool – quite common in the Cotswolds.

As with many parish churches St Edward’s has played an important part in the history of the town, but St Edward’s can also claim a part in the history of England, viz. the English Civil War.

In the early morning of 21 March 1646 the last battle of the Civil War took place one mile north of the town of Stow on the Wold. After initial royalist success the superiority of the parliamentary forces, soon overwhelmed and routed the royalist forces. Fleeing the field, the royalists fought a running fight back into the streets of Stow where the final action took place, culminating in their surrender in the market square.

The destruction of the last royalist field army at Stow on the Wold dashed the last desperate hopes of the Royalist cause and effectively signalled the end of the Civil War. King Charles 1 surrendered soon afterwards in May 1646.

Following the battle, over 1000 royalist prisoners were imprisoned within St Edward’s and the dead were laid nearby in Digbeth Street. Legend has it that the blood of the dead was so deep that ducks were able to bathe in pools of blood - which is why ‘Duck’s Bath’ is said to be the origin of ‘Digbeth Street’.

Where the dead are buried largely remains a mystery but a memorial stone to Captain Hastings Keyt, a royalist killed in the battle, can be found within the churchyard.

Review St Edwards Church Stow-on-the-Wold.

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