Stretton on Dunsmore's First Church

Stretton on Dunsmore's first church, c. 1820.
Part of the Aylesford Collection. Reproduced with the permission of the Library of Birmingham.

Almost all that is known about the old church is that it was there! It stood on the top of the embankment alongside the church path to the west where one can still see some of the floor level stonework. Some of the stonework can also be seen in the boundary wall across the road between The Manor House and Stretton House. It was found to be useful after demolition! It was certainly in existence by 1321 because records show the name of William de Langley as priest. However apart from that the historical details are sparse and come from a visitor and from a picture.

Norman origin

Just before the demolition of the old church, a visiting local historian noted that the building was of Norman origin. The picture of the old church appears to support this. The nave windows appear to be late Norman/early English as does the small bell tower, although this had had a short spire erected on to it later. The building shows further alteration/extension with an aisle being added at a later date in the decorated style.

This extension was to provide for a Chantry Chapel. This was funded by Rev William Wolvardynton, the vicar of Lubenham, near Market Harborough. The chapel was built to offer holy sacrifice in the form of prayer for the Earl of Huntingdon. This was done by a priest who sang daily mass at the altar dedicated to St Thomas the Martyr.

Act of Parliament

It is later recorded in 1767 that a gallery was erected by Rev William Daniels to accommodate the parishioners attending the church. In spite of this the church was deemed too small and in too bad a condition to be of use. In 1832 an Act of Parliament decreed that the church was in a ruinous and dilapidated condition so as to render it expedient to take it down and rebuild it. This was done three years later when the new church building came into use.

One part of the old church was re-used in the new church. This was some medieval stained glass showing Christ on the road to Emmaus, a gift from a church in Hackney, London, which can be seen today in the church.

Text originally from the Draycote Benifice website, and reproduced with their permission.