St George, Dunchurch

St George, Dunchurch

Detail of the south aisle east window from c1919 by Shrigley & Hunt of Lancaster.

St Peter’s at Dunchurch is an impressive red sandstone building dating largely from the 14th & 15th centuries, but rather restored in the 19th. It’s impressive west tower changes colour in it’s topmost stage and has a richly detailed parapet (sadly the carvings are worn, as is it’s otherwise fine cusped west doorway).

The interior of the building is somewhat dark, due both to the colour of the stonework, and the mostly Edwardian stained glass (it’s east and west windows are by Bryans, and often mistaken for Kempe’s work). It feels like it has been stripped of much of it’s antiquity, and this is attested to by the few fragments of the once fine medieval woodwork, stalls and benches all lost by the end of the Georgian period, with only five architectural panels worked into the more recent furniture in the chancel. otherwise the furnishings are all Victorian. There is an intriguing Baroque tablet in the north aisle with it’s central inscription flanked by open marble doors, suggesting the entrance to a tomb.

A further ancient feature removed from the church has survived; the east window’s fine 14th century geometric tracery remained in place until the late Victorian restoration when it was replaced with the present design. The old tracery was preserved and is now in the entrance hall of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, where thousands of visitors walk past it each year, though likely very few ever notice it!

This church’s tower is one of the most familiar anywhere to me, being a regularly seen landmark throughout my childhood, growing up in nearby Rugby. I even climbed to the top of it in 1992 via the scaffolding it was then shrouded in, whilst getting some experience cleaning the west window.

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