Wootten Wawen is one of those complicated buildings that rewards careful attention. At its core is a Saxon central tower, around which has grown a series of accretions. The 11th c. nave and chancel have been extended with a 13th c. S aisle, 14th c. S chapel and 15th c. clerestory to the nave.  Today there are three distinct liturgical spaces – a nave with altar under the tower, the chapel and the chancel.

Enter through the S porch, and you see a recognisably late-mediaeval arrangement of screened-off chapels flanking the tower arch, once the chapels of the Holy Cross and S Gregory. The pulpit is mediaeval.

Pass along the S aisle into the side chapel, largely occupied by the unliturgical though interesting exhibition, and you notice a splendid early 17th century monument to Francis Smith (1522-1605), featuring his figure, recumbent on one elbow and gazing at a disused riddel-posted altar with some surprise.  Warwickshire south of Birmingham had more than its share of Catholic recusants after the mid-16th century, and the Smiths of Wootton Hall were no exception, sheltering a Jesuit mission in their house. 

In contrast is the classical monument, with Gothic overtones, to John Phillips (1759-1836). Behind the altar is another interesting monument, an urn to Henry Knight (1675-1744), cashier of the South Sea Company until the Bubble burst in 1720, upon which he rapidly fled England for Paris, with enough money to start a bank. If you know what you are looking for, an old church is an unrivalled social document.


Map reference: SP153633

Simon Cotton