St Laurence Parish Church, Bidford-on-Avon, Warwickshire

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St Laurence Church, Bidford-on-Avon

The Church of St Laurence, Deacon and Martyr. The Parish of Bidford-on-Avon, Warwickshire. Diocese of Coventry.

A Brief History of St Laurence Church

The precise date of the founding of the church is unknown, although local histories suggest either the beginning or latter part of the 13th Century. The first name on the list of incumbents dates from 1206 but there is a 75 year gap to the next.

Bidford itself is considerably older, standing at the crossing of an ancient trade route over the Avon. Remains of a Roman bridge have been found and also an Anglo-Saxon graveyard.

The building as it presently stands dates largely from 1835 when the old nave was pulled down and a new, wider one built by architect Joseph Lattimore of Stratford.

Pevsner describes the interior of the nave, dating from this time, in these terms: "three bays of arcades or columns, or rather round piers, neither as strong in girth as to be Norman, nor as slender as Early English ones. The capitals look - but only at first sight - a little Early English, and the arches are round. Moreover the aisles have four windows each, and they are of three lights, straight-headed, and with the arched lights of Henry VIII. They are arranged exactly symmetrically with the centres of the three bay arches."

The tower and the chancel are both medieval, with battlements added to the tower possibly at the time of the major rebuilding, and with Victorian work, dating from 1886-9, in the chancel.

Stained glass, which is largely confined to the chancel and east corner of the south aisle, dates from the mid-19th century onwards. (Pevsner is very scathing - "terrible" - about a Belgian pair from 1885!).

A new stained glass window in contemporary style and reflecting the theme of baptism was installed in the three light window above the south vestry in 2005 in memory of Fred Spiers. It can be seen when walking up the path to the church through the similar clear window above the north porch, especially when there is strong sun light.

The wooden chancel screen is a memorial to those who died in the First World War.

Other memorials of note are to Dorothy Skipwith (died 1653) and Woodchurch Clarke (died 1647) both of which are on the south wall of the chancel. Pevsner mentions without comment the Skipwith memorial. Both these are in need of restoration and conservation work which it is hoped will be completed soon.

All pews were removed in the 1960s, and, apart from the old choir stalls in the chancel, all seating is now on chairs. Those in the centre of the nave, which are comfortably upholstered, have been given in memory of various people by their friends and families.

There is a peal of eight bells in the tower, six dating from 1791 with two added in 1954. There is an enthusiastic and skilled band of ringers who practice on Tuesday nights. The clock dates from 1683 and was rebuilt in 1887. An automatic winding mechanism was installed in 2005.