St Giles, Packwood

A church has stood on the site for over 800 years. The original building was probably wooden and replaced by the present stone chancel and nave in the late 13th century. The church is dedicated to St Giles, a French patron saint for beggars and the lame. The church is always open as a refuge for displaced people which I think is rather lovely considering so many churches are locked most of the time these days. A  stained glass window shows a fawn – a symbol of St Giles. The fawn was reputed to have provided St Giles with milk when he was a recluse.

A wedding of interest

One wedding of interest that took place at the church was that between a Lichfield bookseller Michael Johnson and Sara Ford from Packwood – their son was to become the famous literary figure and dictionary author – Samuel Johnson.

The older part of the churchyard is allowed to grow a little “wild” which is great for wildlife. The churchyard is one of the richest sites in the county for wildflowers with over 100 species being recorded some quite rare for Warwickshire.

The porch was built in the 18th century. Many church porches are large because in the past couples were often married in the porch as the ceremony mentions “carnal sin” and the couple following the service were finally allowed to enter the church itself for a blessing.

Within the church are Medieval wall paintings representing the Day of Judgement and dating back to the 14th century. These “Doom Paintings” were covered with whitewash during the Protestant Reformation after 1547, and were only discovered in 1927 when funeral hatchments were removed from the wall. Unfortunately the paintings were damaged as plaster was peeled off but they have since been restored.

The Tower of Atonement

The Tower of Atonement was added in the late 15th century by Nicholas Brome, Lord of Baddesley Clinton, as an act of atonement for murdering a priest around 1483 at Baddesley Clinton for “finding him in his parlour chockings his wife under ye chinne” (Ferrars). Brome is actually buried at nearby Baddesley Clinton in an upright position by the church door so people walk over him as they enter the church – another act of atonement for the murder he committed. In Baddesley Clinton House there is actually a “blood stain” on the floor originally said to be from the murder although I seem to remember it has been tested and found to be pig’s blood.

This page is an edited version of a piece published on Ragged Robin’s Nature Notes blog, and reproduced with the author’s permission.

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