Aston Parish Church: St Peter & St Paul, Birmingham - Monuments

Aston Parish Church, St Peter & St Paul, contains an outstanding collection of grand tombs with statues – recumbent effigies – and around 35 or 40 wall panels or mural monuments. As a whole, the group is worthy of a great cathedral.

The Church itself:

The most noticeable characteristic of Aston Parish Church is the large spire, which has had various restorations and rebuildings through to the late 18th Century, and stands upon the tower, which is 15th Century, at least the base and the outer walls, and which is most of what is left from the mediaeval church. The late Victorian enlargement and essentially replacement of that church took place in 1879-1889, with the porch as late as 1908, the architect being the talented J. H. Chatwin. His work includes the richly decorated Erdington Chapel to the south side, the gift of an anonymous donor. With the rebuilding, the Church appears from the outside to be unified, complete in itself, made in a fine reddish sandstone, with pinnacles, buttresses, battlements, and a generally restless surface and outline giving great character. The style is 14th Century.

Inside, the body of the Church is long, tall and tall, with pillared arches separating nave from aisles, and a clerestory. The monuments we have come to see are dotted along the aisle walls, with the grand effigies towards the Chancel end and in the Erdington Chapel.

St Peter & St Paul, Aston Parish Church, exterior and interior.

We start with the recumbent effigies, of which there are no less than six tombs, and 10 effigies, a remarkable collection. They are puzzling, but we are helped by an early book, ‘The Antiquities of Warwickshire’ by William Dugdale, published in 1656 (online at the Internet Archive, https://ia802704.us.archive.org/22/items/antiquitiesofwar00dugd/antiquitiesofwar00dugd.pdf ), with several pages on St Peter and St Paul, Aston, and a few illustrations of some of the grand tombs.

Recumbent Effigies: c.1360-1620s

Sir Edward Devereux, d.1622, and Lady Katherine, d.1627.

The rest of the Monuments

Pre-18th Century:

18th Century Monuments:

Eglington Senior of Birmingham: panel to the Brandwood family, and details.

19th and 20th Century Monuments:

Brasses:

We may note at least the following:

Brasses to Margaret Holte and John Legard, d.1752.

Modern brasses:

Also in the Church

Outside the Church

There is a variety of gargoyles on the exterior of the Chancel and on the front pinnacle, representing the Seven Deadly Sins and various monsters. The majority of the Churchyard has been cleared, with lines of cropped tombstones lining the paths, some of residual interest including several slate ones, lasting very well apart from having been hacked in half to give a suitable height to put next to the paths, minor sculpture, and a few interesting designs such as keyhole stones. A couple of great tomb chests survive, of which the larger one, raised up on steps, is to members of the Boyce family, and this has upon it carved wreaths with downward pointing torches (life snuffed out). At the Chancel end of the Church a small crop of standing tombstones survives, and her e we can spot a few members of the Astley family, a Gothic blind window with crocketed pinnacles, and round the far side, two nice Classical tombs, designed as tall blocks with pillars at the corners supporting Roman arches, to members of the Ansell and Keay families: the latter has a surviving pot on top; further on are several pillar monuments with pots on top, in granite.

Finally, we see by the wall of the Churchyard, a stone monument to the Royal Warwickshire Brigade, WW1; the only sculptural decoration is the regimental insignia of a goat and a cross in low relief.

With many thanks to Sam Evans for kind permission to use pictures from inside the Church and a most interesting discussion on the Church; the Church website at http://www.astonnechellscofe.org.uk/history_aston.

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Rysbrack panels in Aston Church

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