Church of England Diocese of Coventry Pillerton Hersey with Pillerton Priors

Facilities and features

Click on the tags below to learn more about each.

Accessibility

Exterior WC - usually locked outside church services or village events.

Limited to outside church in village, can be busy at during church services. Drop off point available.

During services.

In village in telephone box

We have steps but ramps can be positioned if warning is given prior to services.


Our Building

Yes - but restricted during Covid 19

Grade 11 Listed

St Mary the Virgin, Pillerton Hersey
The Doomsday book refers to the village as Pilardinton, which is derived from the earlier Anglo Saxon ‘Pilhard’ . These are among the earliest references to the village. The first mention the Church is in the time of King John when there was a law suite between John de Hersey , hence the suffix it has enjoyed ever since, and the Monks of St Neots as to which had the patronage and the living. In 1213 they agreed to appoint conjointly.

The two villages of Pillerton Priors and Hersey were made a single parish around 1666, when the Church of St. Mary Magdalen in Priors was burnt down. The Church was never rebuilt, but the churchyard is still consecrated ground and an "open air" service is held every year on the Sunday closest to the patron’s festival - July 22nd. The churchyard is maintained and used for burials.

In 1717 the Mills family took ownership of the Manor at Hersey and remained until they died out in the 1970s.
Today the two villages of Pillerton Priors and Hersey lie among the gently rolling hills of South Warwickshire. The heavy red coloured clay soil and the underlying limestone form a rolling landscape known as the Vale of the Red Horse. The predominant building materials of the area are of the distinctly ochre yellow stone obtained from the Hornton quarry near Edgehill , or red brick made from the local clay. The church is situated on slightly higher ground just north of the Priors to Kineton road. A turn at the Pillerton Hersey war memorial reveals a quintessential village church, described by Pevsner as one of only four ‘Early English’ churches in the county; it is built of Hornton Stone with a slate roof. The church is approached up a couple of steps, there being no lynch gate and along a path through the churchyard. The churchyard is regularly mown by a roster of volunteers from the village and regularly receives awards for its tidiness and good upkeep. In some corners the grass is left to grow allowing wild flowers and insects to thrive. There are many memorials and grave stone ranging from the 17th century to the present day. The William Allibone memorial of 1852 is of particular interest as includes an unusual epitaph to a Cartwright’s life, it can be found on the right half way up the path to the west door. The churchyard contains some yew trees on the north side, one of which is over 280 years old according to some recent research.

The Tower is dated from the 15th century is of a square construction and contains an unusual clock face, allegedly bought second hand in the 16th century from Kineton, it boasts only one hand. With gilded Roman figures and a blue background it contrasts vividly with the bright iron rich Hornton stone. The top of the tower, including the castellation was restored in the 1920’s and creates a distinct boundary join where the new dressed stone meets the earlier rougher material. There are reported to be four species in the roof spaces over the nave.
The Nave is constructed with a fine 15th century low pitched oak roof with carved bosses. The southern aisle containing the Lady Chapel is of a slightly later date. The northern aisle, the most modern was rebuilt in 1845 under the direction of the then squarson, The Rev Henry Mills. It contains a 15th century window with three lancets taken from the earlier building. The East window is a copy of a design taken from Wicken church, Buckinghamshire. In general the north aisle balances and blends in well with the older part of the church. Other late Victorian restoration includes a Murton tile floor which was laid in the chancel in 1900 by a Thomas Sargeson of Stratford upon Avon for a sum of £42,8s.
For regular services the West door under the church tower is the preferred entrance, the southern door being opened only when larger numbers of worshippers are expected.

The bell tower can be accessed by steep stone stairway on the south side of the tower and contains three bells: a treble of 1688, a second of 1672, cast by a Henry Bagely with fleur-de- lys embellishments. The Tenor made in 1602 has the inscription ‘BE YT KNOWNE TO ALL THAT DOETHME SEE THAT NEWCOMBE OF LEICESTER MADE ME’, It has a border decoration of inverted acorns.

In 2017 the 3 existing bells were removed to Taylors Foundry for restoration. The rotten bell frame was taken down and a new metal one installed that was designed to take five bells. Since then we have had donated two more bells allowing for a hugely increased range of peals and tunes to be rung. This has been of great community value.

There is a 17th century chest that formerly kept the parish records the earliest being from 1539 before they were sent to the county records office in Warwick. It is still used today, but now contains cleaning equipment from a more recent age!
On looking down the aisle the first thing that strikes you is that the chancel is not in perfect alignment with the nave but slightly angled. Some records attribute this to symbolise the leaning of Christ’s head at the Crucifixion. The fine very chancel arch is from the mid 13th century and is the oldest part of the church. It is described by Pevsner and has distinctive outward lean caused by settlement over the years. The body of the nave as well as the aisle contains pews from the 19th century, made principally of pine they are serviceable but not of particular merit. The church boasts an exceptionally rare 19th century Bryson barrel organ. This has been recently sensitively restored in 2000 to its former glory, it is now powered by electric wind pump rather than by hand. The instrument with its deep coloured painted and grained exterior with gilded pipes on a red velvet backing sits resplendently in the east end of the north aisle. It is used for some services and the occasional concert when its unique sound is appreciated by the many listeners. By the south door sits the font, which is of indeterminate age, it is capped by an unusual wooden cover containing long thin shafts of wood, this is lowered and raised by a chain secured to the roof. Designed by Vernon Staley, a canon from Penrith in 1927. On the south wall a very fine Royal Coat of Arms hangs, painted by an unknown journeyman it was restored in 1956 by Phoebe Mills the last of the Mills family to live at the manor, the son having perished in the first world war. The Lady Chapel altar is situated at the east end of the southern aisle on a recently constructed oak plinth. The church only contains one piece of stained glass which reads ‘THINKE AND THANK GOD 1574’ this is situated above the Lady Chapel altar. There is much fine old clear lead glass to be found in other windows, in particular the 17th century window above the west door which has a distinctive green tinge to it.
Moving back to the centre of the church and processing through the chancel arch towards the altar we see three fine lancet windows containing more original green glass. The roof is the same height as the nave and is supported by a rough hammer beam construction, probably 17th century. The priests doorway is situated behind the chancel arch is of an interesting design (probably unique – Pesvner). On the south wall adjacent to the altar is a double piscina (a stone basin used formerly used to wash sacred vessels), while on the opposite wall is a double aumbry ( a recess to hold sacred vessels) with trefoiled arches. The Vestry is panelled, probably 19th century, there a new modern safe containing current parish records and communion plate. This includes a fine silver chalice of great age dated 1725.made by Gabriel Sleath and a paten dated 1686.

Bibliography

The church of St Mary the Virgin, Pillerton Hersey . – A guided tour, Published by the Friends of St Mary’s.

The Buildings of England – Warwickshire by Nikolaus Pevsner Published by Penguin,1966 edition

The History of Pillerton Hersey and Pillerton Priors, by E M Mills, and published by The Kings Stone Press Long Compton 1927


Music and Worship

The bell tower can be accessed by steep stone stairway on the south side of the tower and contains three bells: a treble of 1688, a second of 1672, cast by a Henry Bagely with fleur-de- lys embellishments. The Tenor made in 1602 has the inscription ‘BE YT KNOWNE TO ALL THAT DOETHME SEE THAT NEWCOMBE OF LEICESTER MADE ME’, It has a border decoration of inverted acorns.

In 2017 the 3 existing bells were removed to Taylors Foundry for restoration. The rotten bell frame was taken down and a new metal one installed that was designed to take five bells. Since then we have had donated two more bells allowing for a hugely increased range of peals and tunes to be rung. This has been of great community value.

Bells are rung by local bell ringers - The Edge Hill ringers
Contact Graham Nabb: Email: [email protected], Telephone: 01926 641812.

At present we do not have a qualified group in the village

Occasional concerts are organised usually to raise funds for church or other worthy causes.

Bryson Organ
The church boasts an exceptionally rare 19th century Bryson barrel organ. This has been recently sensitively restored in 2000 to its former glory, it is now powered by electric wind pump rather than by hand. The instrument with its deep coloured painted and grained exterior with gilded pipes on a red velvet backing sits resplendently in the east end of the north aisle.

First Sunday in the Month in Lady Chapel at 8.30.
Occasional Sung Eucharist at other times.

Regular Village Choir which performs regularly especially on feast days and special occasions


Groups, Courses and Activities

See Stourdene Benefice

Beavers Group meets at Pillerton Priors Hall
Contact Colette Inman for more information, Email: [email protected]

See Stordene Benefice

Occasional.
We have a church fete normally held in early June
Friends of St Mary's hold fund raising events notably Quiz Night in March and very popular Church teas throughout each Sunday afternoon in August. Concerts and recitals are also held from time to time.

See Stourdene Group

Yes - organised by Stourdene Benefice


Help for Visitors

Display board on church path with historical notes

Tea, coffee and cakes are usually on offer after morning services from the kichenette at back of church.

Normally during daylight hours, restricted in winter.


Other Features

There is a foodbank donation point at Ettington church and all goods received are passed to the Fosse Foodbank. During the current Coronavirus crisis, donations are welcomed between 12.30-1.30pm on Saturdays when someone is there to receive goods.

Pillerton Hersey is in a conservation area. The churchyard is regular mown during summer months with some restricted areas for wild flowers.
The church yard at Pillerton Priors ( no church building ) is also mown but kept long enough to encourage wild flowers.