|Wishaw Church is dedicated to St. Chad who was Bishop of Lichfield from 669 – 672. This suggests that it was established about this time. It would have been constructed of timber in the typical Saxon style. The red sandstone chancel is the oldest part of the present church and was built at the turn of the 13th century. The priest is mentioned in the Domesday Book and in 1291 there is a statement that the living was valued at £3.6s.8d. per annum.However, the nave was not built until the end of the 13th century, the clerestory towards 1600, the Tower in 1650 and the vestry in 1886, when the general restoration took place.If we walk round the outside first, we can move back through the centuries guided by the difference in the sandstone and the varying states of its weathering.
Looking up at the west wall of the tower (built in 1650) you see above the doors (which are a modern replica of the original doors) the moulded windows below the circular window which was originally a bull’s eye window. This was bricked up until 1983 when the congregation arranged a cheese and wine evening on St. George’s Eve and raised £309, enough to restore the circular window. If we move round in a clockwise direction we first see the north wall of the Tower with its circular leaded window. This circle had been bricked up in 1887 in the same way as the one over the west doors, but Mr & Mrs March donated this window and the one opposite, in 1957 as a memorial to their son Jeremy who died on the 23rd February, 1957. Subsequently Mrs March donated the church doors as a memorial to her husband.
As we pass to the outer walls of the nave we move back 200 years, though much fifteenth century remodelling can be noticed in the original walls as the different texture in the sandstone demonstrates. We see the original doorway to the nave, which has been bricked up, and the windows in fifteenth century pattern.
We now reach the earliest part of the church – the present chancel: notice the very old weather worn sandstone of the walls but the much different texture of the massive ramparts. It seems the church stood for over 500 years without buttresses for these were only added at the general restoration in 1886 as the walls no longer seemed capable of bearing the weight of the roof.
Passing the east window, thirteenth century much restored, we turn west to see a modern extension, the vestry added in 1886. The condition of its stone witnesses to its youth.
We now reach the south wall of the nave. This is a century later than its opposite north wall but has not needed restoration so, in fact, is older than the restored portions of the north wall. It had three windows and a door but one window and the door have been blocked up to allow monuments to be erected on the inside.
Above the sloping roof we notice sandstone again in much better condition. This is the vertical wall of the clerestory which was added late in the fifteenth century.
Inside the Church
Now we go inside and notice on the left wall of the porch, formed by the ground floor of the tower, the two original clappers from the bells which were struck by John Martin of Worcester in 1650. The bells were re-hung and half turned in 1954 and new clappers fitted. However, after some years the bells became unsafe and were not rung again. In 1996 the decision was made to restore the two existing bells and, if possible, purchase a third bell to replace the one sold at the end of the last century (presumably to fund essential repairs to the church). A bell, matching the weight and tone of the original, was located in the crypt of Derby Cathedral and in 1997 the fittings were restored and strengthened and the third bell hung.
On the right wall is a memorial to a schoolmaster, Thomas Baylis, who in his thirty-one years tenure of the school (now Church Farm House a few yards from the north gate to the Church Yard) “amassed a plentiful fortune”. In 1744 he donated ten pounds towards new seating, five pounds towards the weathercock for the steeple, twenty shillings (£1) a year for the poor of the Parish and ten shillings (50p) a year for one scholar’s expenses at the school.
As you pass through the screen doors notice the thickness of the walls – 5 feet 10 inches! (The other walls of the tower are only 3 feet 4 inches so that the original nave wall was left in place and, on its outside, the tower wall was later added.)
The wall panelling is, in part, made from the wood of the original pews, but the rest of the furniture is modern. Above the font we see the simple marble War Memorial.
(Wishaw with a population today smaller than that recorded in Domesday Book, mourns ten of its sons of the First World War and two of the Second. With surprising vitality this small community provided, as a memorial, the Parish Hall which was dedicated by the Lord of the Moxhull Manor, Mr. T. Ryland on the 14th July, 1923)
Above the window on the west wall on the south side is a hatchment (a framed coat of arms) of the Hackett family and below it a memorial tablet erected by Mary Hackett in memory of her mother, Mary Lisle, who died in 1676.
(From Edward the Confessor’s time until 1227 Wishaw and Moxhull had been manors of the Knights Templars. In 1227 the Manor of Moxhull was granted to Margery de L’Isle and in 1257 the Manor of Wishaw to Walter de Beresford. The de L’Isles held Moxhull until 1640 when Sir John’s two sons predeceased him and the manor passed to his daughter Mary who, on marriage, became Mary Hackett. The Hacketts then held Moxhull until 1815 when Andrew Hackett’s widow succeeded him, as they had no heir. She then remarried to B.B. Noel and their son, on inheriting the manor, sold it to Thomas Ryland, whose family held it until 1929. The last donor from Moxhull Park was William Schmiegelow who held the manor until it was sold as a licensed hotel in 1962. He donated the church heating system and a capital sum for the upkeep of the Rectory. It is surprising that the Moxhull Manor so supported the church when its living was in the gift of the Wishaw Manor. However, the chancel stained glass was the gift, in the twentieth century, of the descendants of the Wishaw Manor, Lord Walter de Beresford, via the Ffoliots and Jessons to the Standfords. As we move around the nave we shall see all the Moxhull families commemorated.)
First, going up the south aisle, we see a memorial to Andrew Hackett (the last of the Hacketts) who died in 1815. Next is the massive memorial (which blocks out the doorway seen on the outside) to Sir John Lisle Hackett (the first of the Hacketts and grandson of the last of the Lisles). He was also the grandson, on his father’s side, of Dr. Hackett who was obviously a royalist, for he was “most deservedly promoted Bishop of Lichfield upon the return of everything that was dear and valuable to us in the Restoration of the Kingdom to Charles II.”
Next is the memorial to Sir John Lisle (the last of the Lisles), his maternal grandfather who died in 1675. His daughter Mary erected this monument and the next one (obscuring a blocked up window) to her husband, Andrew Hackett, on his death in 1700. Later we shall see opposite, on the north wall, her daughter’s memorial to her and her grandson.
We now pass the east window of the south aisle – notice it is higher and not symmetric with its counterpart on the north aisle which is a century earlier. In the pillar supporting the south arcade and chancel entry, we see the lepers’ squint. Before the nave was added, lepers used to feel comfort by watching, from outside the church, through this aperture which focuses directly on to the Altar where they would see the preparation and administration of the sacrament.
We now enter the oldest part of the church and note that the chancel arch starts to curve at an unusually low height. In the south wall are two windows with a door between them. The first window has a twentieth century stained glass picture dedicated to the missionary, the Rev. Alfred Stanford, who was killed at Mafeking in 1895. (The Stanfords were the descendants of the Beresfords – original Lords of Wishaw Manor, who were patrons of the church.)
The door next was the original door to the church but it now leads into the vestry (added in 1886) and the window next allows the altar to be seen from the vestry. Below this window is a locker set into the wall, which balances one on he north side which was a piscina (a niche with a drain for the ablution of the priest’s hands and sacred vessels). Flanking the east window, which has been much restored, are stone shelves which probably originally supported statues of Christ and the Virgin – the one on the right has a gargoyle head though the left hand one is plain. Above the right hand one is a plaque commemorating the Reverend John Smith, Rector of Wishaw for 45 years, who died in 1728, and his wife Dorothy. The chancel roof was lowered in 1878, as can be seen from the fact that it cuts into the top of the east window.
The three beautiful stained glass panels, showing the Annunciation, the Nativity and the Presentation at the Temple surmounted by a panel depicting Christ in Glory, were placed by Charles Stanford as a memorial to his father and mother, John Woodward and Louisa, in 1908 as was the altar table.
There is only one window on the north side of the chancel and the glass in this commemorates Major Henry Stanford who died in 1904. The Reverend Bedell Stanford presented the priest’s desk and bench.
The choir stalls in the chancel are dedicated to the memory of the Cooper family.
As we pass out of the chancel we see, above the pulpit, a brass plaque dedicated to the Reverend A.H. Causeland who was the rector during the general restoration of the church, which was reopened in 1887.
The pulpit is a memorial to Mr. Frank Foden, churchwarden from 1895 – 1945 and was restored after being transferred from St. Mark’s Church, Ladywood on the closure of that church.
One section of the east window of the north aisle (alongside the pulpit) is dedicated to the memory of The Revd. Roderick J Wilkins who was the incumbent of St. Chad ‘s from 1971 up to the time of his death in 1990.
Passing the window we see the monument to Lady Hackett, daughter of Mary Lisle, who died in 1716 and next the monument to her grandson, the son of Lisle Hackett who predeceased his father at the age of 29.
The colours in the square lintel window are pleasing in the subdued light of the church. Beyond the window is the memorial plaque to a new landlord of Moxhull, Howard Ryland, who died in 1905. (It was he who built a new manor house, Moxhull Hall, on the top of the hill above the Noel Grange, after the old one – Moxhull Park – was burnt down. The present building at the Park (now the Belfry Hotel) was the stables and grooms’ quarters of the original manor.)
On the wall in the west corner of the north aisle is a map showing the county of Warwickshire in 1086/87 and beneath it is a cabinet containing a copy of the Domesday Book open at the page where mention is made (towards the bottom of the first column of the right hand page) of the locality of Wishaw. The map mounting and cabinet are dedicated to the memory of Gordon Philpott who was churchwarden from 1967 to 1990.
On the west wall, above the window, is a hatchment matching the one opposite.
If we now walk up the centre aisle we notice that the pillars supporting the arcades of the south aisle are more slender than those for the north aisle. Remember, the south aisle was completed in the fourteenth century, whereas the north aisle was completed in the thirteenth century. The original pillars of the north aisle, being thirteenth century, needed replacing with more robust ones in the fifteenth century, to support the addition of the clerestory. One pillar is rounded but the other is octagonal to match the south aisle pillars. The arches above are probably the original ones as they are more slender than the pillars supporting them and not so acute as those of the south aisle, suggesting an earlier style.
Above these pillars are the vertical walls and rectangular windows of the clerestory, added in the late fifteenth century, with its contrasting yellow sandstone parapets. Whereas the roof beams over the north and south aisles are fifteenth century, the tie beams and deal boarding of the clerestory ceiling are nineteenth century (part of the general restoration work). As we leave, we see how beautifully the ceiling matches the lofty screen, which separated the tower from the nave.
Outside the Church
Outside the church are ancient tombstones scattered among the recent ones, shedding further insight into the thousand years that St. Chad’s has provided a comfort and refuge for the villagers of Wishaw and Moxhull.