1. JAMES, BARTON-UNDER-NEEDWOOD, STAFFS

 

Barton church is a long and low building in the dark stone characteristic of churches in the area. The window tracery in the aisles is deceptive, as the aisles were rebuilt and widened in 1864. In fact, the building dates from 1517-1533, built at the expense of John Taylor, a local boy made good. He was one of triplets born around 1480; they were shown to King Henry VII, who took on the cost of educating the boys. Taylor became Chaplain to both Henry VII and VIII, attending the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520. He achieved the heights of Master of the Rolls, and set about building this church for his home village on the site of his parents’ home. In doing this, Taylor would have followed the example of Pope Urban IV, who built the church of S. Urbain in Troyes c. 1262 on the site of his father’s cobbler’s shop. Taylor appears to have fallen from favour towards the end of his life, succeeded as Master of the Rolls by Thomas Cromwell, but at least Taylor seems to have died in his bed.

You’re not left in much doubt about the author of this work, as the Taylor arms are repeated along the nave – two Tudor roses refer to Henry VII, three heads to the triplets, and a Tau could either be a T for Taylor or a Tau cross. There’s also a series of tablets highlighting stages in Taylor’s stellar career. The east window shows the Twelve Apostles, along with others including Moses, Elijah and John the Baptist. The central light bears the date 1533 (and the Taylor arms), when building work was coming to its close. Though rather restored, the glass is a good specimen of its period, with characteristic strong colours – purple, blue and green.

 

Map reference: SK187185

Simon Cotton