Holy Ascension Church

(The Church of the Holy Ascension)

The Church of the Holy Ascension was commissioned and financed by Sir William Jaffray Bart of Skilts, who continued to support the church both with hard work and generosity after its construction until his death in 1914. He is repeatedly mentioned in Church records, praised for his generosity in the upkeep of the Church.

Built in memory of his first wife Mabel, the Church was initially opened on Wednesday, 11th July 1888. The Dedication sermon was preached by The Lord Bishop of Worcester. (At this time the Church was included in the Worcester Diocese.)

The Church of the Holy Ascension was designed by the architect J.A. Chatwin of Birmingham. The design of the building is known and referred to as an Early English style of architecture explaining its escape from Victorian ‘Gothic’, a style not unattractive in itself, but one that would have been wholly unsuitable for this particular rural church. Here is displayed the sensitivity of architect and benefactor for the village environment.

The building specifications are recorded in a document written at the time of the Church’s unveiling. The document lists the originating sources for the building materials and the internal features. It describes that:-

“For its size the Church has an aspect of unusual dignity due alike to the excellent proportions designed by the architect and to the skilful manner in which constructional ornament is combined with severe simplicity of general lines.”

The building work was carried out by Smallwood the building merchant of Wotton Wawen. The exterior is built of Bromsgrove stone, the interior consisting of Hanbury stone with Bromsgrove stone dressings. The woodwork throughout is of oak, including the most attractive porch.

The stained glass in the Church is exceptionally beautiful again due mainly to its simplicity of style. The East window is a triple lancet, deeply recessed into the wall, the subject being the passion of Jesus. The building and ceremony report describes it as thus:-

“The several incidents are arranged in medallions set in richly coloured panels of foliage in accordance with the period of the building.”

The East window of the Memorial Chapel is fitted with stained glass and is particularly beautiful illustrating the text ‘Now abideth faith hope and charity’.

All these windows were designed by Mr. John Powell and were made by Messrs. Hardman and Powell, who were also employed to craft all the lamps and metal work.

The stone and wood carvings throughout are the work of Mr. R. Bridgeman of Lichfield, the organ that of Nicholson & Co. – the organ was presented by Mr. and Mrs. Jaffray of Park Grove, Edgbaston.

The above is taken from the booklet “A Century to Celebrate”, available at the Church which includes personal memories of the Church and Village.

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