You pick out the 14th c. spire from a distance; it is only when you get closer that you are struck by the ensemble of the church, 15th c. manor house (Ashleworth Court) and late 15th c. tithe barn. Once inside the church, you realise from the expanse of herringbone masonry for much of the north nave wall that the church has an Anglo-Saxon core (we are not far from Deerhurst, after all). As usual, sections were added to the core – a 12th c. N door was inserted, the chancel is 13th c. and the south aisle dates from the 15th century. Yet the building has some very interesting furnishings that will tick off some boxes in your I-SPY book, such as the 16th c. oak linen fold benches, with a pulpit and priest’s stall – a panel dated 1635. The 18th century gave it a fine 18th c. wall painting, a roundel with a text from 1 Peter 4:7. ‘But the end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober and watch unto prayer.’

The most interesting feature of Ashleworth church, though, is the set of Royal Arms, now at the E end of the S aisle; it is only comparatively recently (1988) that they were carefully restored by Anna Hulbert. They are associated with an original ceilure (another tick). Their date is clearly Tudor, with the shield supported by a lion and a dragon. From the initials that they bear, ER could mean either Edward VI or Elizabeth I, both rare, the former exceptionally so (ND November 2016)

Map reference: SO818251

Simon Cotton