St Giles Church Sheldon

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ST GILES CHURCH SHELDON, BIRMINGHAM

ST GILES

Born Athens, 8th Century. Went to France: lived as a hermit in a cave feeding on roots, water and milk of a deer. Royal hunt pursued the deer which fled to St Giles who protected it. King introduced Giles to Bishop of Nimes, and they built a monastery close to the cave. Giles became first abbot.

Attributes identifying St Giles: stag, arrow.

St Giles Day: 1st September.

Patron Saint of beggars, cripples and lepers.

 

PORCH

Early 16th Century. Lantern was replaced in 2000s when the original was stolen.

 

SCHOOL

Built in 1852 to replace 1704 building attached to church.

 

CHURCHYARD

13th Century stone coffin lid to right of porch, possibly a priest's grave.

 

BIER HOUSE

Houses bier - a cart for carrying coffins. Original bier house was other side of Church Road.

 

LYCHGATE

Built 1899 to mark 50th year of Rev Bateman's incumbancy.

 

LIMES

Reputed to have been planted by Rev Bateman.

 

THOMAS BRAY

Rector 1690 - 1730.

Went to Maryland, America. Helped to provide impoverished American priests with libraries. Established schools, including one in Sheldon. His work lead to establishment of SPCK (Society for Promotion of Christian Knowledge) and SPG (Society for the Propagation of the Gospel).

Also Rector of St Botolph's in London.

 

TOWER

Built 1461 (inscription on south wall).

West doorway

West window

Inscription: Middle English (hand is the mason's mark)

In [the] yr of our lord MCCCC I Xi [1461] ye

stepel a be gon. ye masson

had two and forti pond [2 and 40 pounds] vis [6 shillings] and

viiid [8 pence] for makyng of the stpel.

North wall of tower outside: hole made by cannon ball in English Civil War and marks where arrow-heads were sharpened.

 

NAVE

14th Century (about 1330). Nave extended to meet Tower in 1461. (Note difference in wooden roof). Timber roof - steel braces added in 1928. Windows on north side - 2 - only easternmost (nearest altar) are 14th Century. Windows on south side - 7 - only easternmost, 4th and 6th are mediaeval. "The Sower" window designed by Florence Camm in 1937. Her family's glass business was in Smethwick (T W Camm & Co). She studied at Birmingham School of Art. "Children's Window": during 1867 restoration, children of Sheldon wanted to contribute so picked wild flowers from the local fields, went into town to sell them and thus raised money to provide the window.

 

PISCINA (to right of chancel steps) was for washing communion plate. 14th Century. There must have been an altar alongside. Above is "cupboard". How was it accessed? Was there a rood?

The brass eagle LECTURN (eagle is the symbol of St John) was donated in 1894 in memory of Mary Thornley.

 

PEWS were installed in 1867 replacing high-backed pews.

Oak chest was for storing important documents, eg parish registers. It was opened by 2 separate keys for security. 14th Century.

 

FONT

15th Century. Blank side shows it originally stood against a wall. Placed in North Aisle (in 1867?), then in front of tower and now facing south porch entrance. Damaged in 2000s by mobility scooter. The sanctified (blessed) water drains straight into the ground, not the drainage system.

 

NORTH AISLE

1349 - 1360 (30 years after the nave), rebult in 1867.

15th Century reredos (originally behind an altar) reset in the wall in 1867. Damaged in Reformation but shadows of Annunciation figures (Angel Gabriel and Virgin Mary) can be seen.

PENTAGON WINDOW above organ. Unusual shape. Centre: Christ, 5 seraphim hold scrolls, 5 small circles contain symbols of title for God. Window was "found walled up" during 1867 restoration, possibly obscured by school attached to north side of church.

 

ORGAN

At least 150 years old. Made by Thomas Hewins of Stratford-on-Avon. The company closed in 1901. May have been moved from Elmdon Hall.

 

CHANCEL

1867 rebuild in mediaeval style. Part of Chancel Arch is ancient. This is a "weeping chancel", ie deviates from the straight line of the Nave. Symbolic of the head of the crucified Christ.

Leper's Window/Squint: Those not permitted to enter church because of infectious disease could view the Service from outside.

Door: Possibly used by the Rector when the Rectory was at Rectory Farm. 

Reredos: Last Supper. St Giles on left, St Augustine on right. Installed after 1912 (plaque on left wall).

Book of Gospels: Symbols: Man - St Matthew. Lion - St Mark, Ox - St Luke, Eagle - St John.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

plan view