ST JOHN BAPTIST, HOPE BAGOT, SALOP
Despite the efforts of those who wish to concrete over England, there do survive remote and rustic areas, and much of Shropshire is one such, with narrow, winding roads between high hedges (Devon, eat your heart out). On the southern slopes of the Titterstone Clee Hill, Hope Bagot is reached via byways and its churchyard is replete with a wide range of native plants.
Once upon a time a lot of small villages would have had little 12th c. churches like this – a simple W bell-tower attached to a small nave and chancel. There is just the odd inserted 14th c. window on the S side and a simple two-light 15th c. E window, but with the Norman S door, simple 12th c. font and splendid modest Norman carved chancel arch it is all pretty unaltered, thanks to a conservative restoration by W. D. Caroe in 1911, and fairly unadorned, save some chevron carving. The tower may be the last part of the main building to be constructed and come from right at the end of the 12th c., with a crude pointed arch into the nave.
The Jacobean pulpit fits in well: behind it is a wall painting recording: ‘This Church was a-dorned Anno Domini 1681. Iohn Griffiths and William Vnit churchwarden.’ Ah, yes, churchwardens, Anglican patrimony.
As Alec Clifton-Taylor once remarked in another context: ‘All is diminutive here, except one’s pleasure.’
Map reference SO 589740 Simon Cotton