St Andrew's Church - Clifton Campville      Martin B. Browne February 2009
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Summary and Timeline development of the church



942 - Name mentioned in Cartularium Saxonicum - village called Clyfton - an enclosure round a house or village situated on a hill, hill slope or on the brink of a river.


1071 - Edwin, Earl of Mercia forfeited the Manor to the Crown.


1086 - Domesday Survey - The King holds Clifton. ‘There are eight hides with appendages. There is land for four ploughs. In the desmesne are two ploughs and two serfs and 33 villeins and 7 borders. With the priest have 11 ploughs. There are two mills rendering 10s and there are 50 acres of meadow.’


1296 - Sir Geoffrey Camville, fourth member of the Camville family, created Baron Camville of Clifton on becoming Lord of the Manor. Village called Clifton Camville.

·       Early church core of nave and chancel.

·       North wall has two pointed windows.

·       North door.

·       Nave wall painting fragments.

·       Oak dug-out chest presently in the Lady Chapel, probably of this period.

·       North Transverse chapel.

·       South Transept.


1338 - Sir Richard Stafford became Lord of the Manor.


1353 - Hugh Hopwas became first recorded Rector.


1361- Major extension and rebuild of church.   Sir Richard Stafford founded a Chantry ‘In honour of the Holy Trinity, Mary the Mother of God and all the Saints’. Hugh Hopwas ordained the  Chantry’ for the welfare of Sir Richard Stafford and his wife Maud, and for the soul of Isabel, his former wife’.


·      The tower and spire.

·      The nave eaves level raised, large dressed blocks of ashlar stone.

·       Chancel extended to the East by one bay.

·      South aisle and chapel added, incorporating former transept, also the South porch.

·     Misericords in Choir.

·        Screens to Lady Chapel on North and West sides.

·        Lady Chapel – Brass Palimpsest, possibly effigy of Maud, the second wife of Sir Richard Stafford.


1381 - Sir Richard Stafford died and was buried in the South wall of the Church, opposite the tomb of his wife Isabella.

·       Mediaeval wall painting of the Coronation of the Virgin uncovered in 1933.


1393 - Edmund Stafford became Rector. He had become Dean of York in 1385 and two years later was enthroned as Bishop of Exeter.


1415 - John Stafford, a distant cousin of Dr. Edmund Stafford was appointed Rector. He was later to become Archdeacon of Salisbury and Chancellor of that Diocese and was appointed Keeper of the Privy Seal by Henry V. In 1442 he became Lord Treasurer of England. John Stafford went on to become Dean of Wells and Bishop of Bath and in 1443  became Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor of England.

·       Chancel – two three-light westernmost  windows  added.

·       Lady Chapel roof lowered.

·       Rood Screen added.

·       Arms of Christ or Passion Shield  glass.


1545 - Lady Chapel,  alabaster chest tomb to Sir John Vernon - links with Sudbury and Haddon.


1574 -  Sir Walter Heveningham became Lord of the Manor. He was the last of the descendents of the Camvilles, a family who had been associated with the village for more than 400 years.


1632 -  Rector John Gilbert.  Gaoled in Coventry during the 11 years of the Commonwealth.


·       Eastern-most arcade screen between Sanctuary and Lady Chapel 1634.

·       Donated a bell in 1640 which is  inscribed ‘God save His Church’ (G. Oldfield).

·       Rood screen doors replaced 1684.



1690 -  Rector Nathaniel Selleck. Bankrupted the majority of local tenants, landowners and gentry by requiring the Rector’s Tithes to be paid in money, not in goods.

·       His tombstone in Chancel floor.

·       His wife’s tombstone in Sanctuary floor.


1701 - Manor of Clifton passes to the Pye family who lived at Clifton Hall, several Rectors were the eldest sons of the Lord of the Manor.

·       Chancel, architectural Monuments to Sir Robert Pye 1721, Sir Richard Pye 1724 and Sir Robert Pye 1784.

·       Nave, Charles Watkins, 1813.

·       South aisle Rev. John Watkins.

·       Nave re-roofed 1828.


1850 – 1868   Rector Henry John Pye.

·         Replaced Chancel and Sanctuary roofs. Architect George Street.


1901-1915    Rector William Reed.

·       Major restoration undertaken by leading architect W.D.Caroe of London.  Nave roof repaired and restored twice within a few years.

·       Chancel and Sanctuary roofs replaced.

·       Elizabethan brick North Porch replaced with present stone Porch.


1949-1972    Rector Alan Matheson.

·       Restored and refurbished North Transverse Chapel.


1972 - 1995  Rector Arthur Solomon.

·       North Transverse chapel screen.

·       Organ repaired and  refurbished.

·       Chancel and Sanctuary floors re laid.

·       Tower windows restored.

·       Catastrophic storm damage to spire subsequently repaired.

·       Limed oak Choir Stalls  added.


1996 – 2005    Rector Alan Wheale.

·       Restoration work on the South Porch and  North transverse chapel.

·       LPG heating unit installed.

·       Electrification of the clock.



The Exterior


The graceful 14th.-century spire can be seen from many miles around and dominates the approach to the church. The sheer size and grandeur lifts the eye from the fine lower windows, through the delicate flying buttresses to the gold orb and weather vane of 1723 which surmounts the spire. The three tiers of lucarnes add a sense of proportion.


 The North porch is part of the 1911 Caroe restoration. Above and to the East, the North wall shows evidence of the early church with its two supporting buttresses. Above are several courses of dressed ashlar stone and evidence of two blocked clerestory windows. The two nave windows are of a later insertion. Above there is a lead gutterhead dated 1814 and inscribed T.B.


The North Transverse chapel is a complex structure and the serious scholar is referred to the report by the Historic Buildings Consultant Bob Meeson for a detailed interpretation of the structure.  There are the remains of the two cylindrical chimneys visible at the North West and North East corners. A former roof line of the chapel complex is visible on the nave wall. There is a blocked external door which gave access to the base of the spiral staircase to the priest’s room. The two bays of the wall to the East show the outline of the early windows - one of which is extant - and a doorway.


The East end of the nave has a window with decorated quatrefoil tracery. The East end of the Lady/Chantry Chapel has a window with intersecting tracery that post dates 1833. Also visible is a more steeply pitched earlier roofline.


The South wall incorporates the former transept in the 4th. bay. The third phase of building  added  the three Westernmost bays and the South porch. The string course indicates the earlier roofline as do the remains of the stone gargoyles.  A distinct curve in the wall emphasises the differing building phases.


The whole church is set into a typical English country churchyard and many of the headstones deserve more than a cursory glance. Near the entrance to the churchyard is a Memorial Cross to John Lonsdale, Bishop of Lichfield from 1843 to 1867. He is buried in Eccleshall Churchyard. At the South West corner of the Churchyard is a mound of “uncertain date and function.”




The Nave


Previous rooflines are clearly visible both internally and externally.  The North wall shows clearly the junction of the earlier 13th.-century church with its coursed and roughly squared stone, to the later 14th.-century large dressed blocks of ashlar stone at the upper levels. Apart from one tie-beam dated 1796 the other five are from Caroe’s 1911 restoration.


Running along the north wall is a low stone ledge where the elderly and infirm would have sat, hence the phrase ‘weakest to the wall’. The Nave North wall has two Decorated windows, the Westernmost of which has a composite of medieval glass in the top quatrefoil. On a visit to the church by the Midlands Archeological Society in 1933, Mr. G. McN. Rushworth pointed out “that the cusped opening in the head of the window E. of the door on the N. side of the nave retains its original glass. This is an early example of the ‘arms of Christ’ or Passion shield, which became so popular in the fifteenth century. On a large escutcheon are displayed the cross (green) encircled by the crown of thorns (brown) and the spear and reed in saltire. In the intervals appear the three nails and two rods (all in blue).” Much of what was described in 1933 is still discernable in the window today.


Also in the North wall under a low arch is a tomb, believed to be that of Isabella who died in 1356. She was the first wife of Sir Richard Stafford.  Shaw in his History of Staffordshire 1798 records  the words ‘Here lyeth the founder’s wife,’ painted on the wall inside the arch. These were obliterated when the church was whitened in about 1748.


Remnants of the 13th.-century South wall can still be seen, and the matching join to the later masonry as on the North wall. A pleasing three bay arcade opens onto the South aisle. Above the arcade are the fragments of wall paintings which Professor Tristram describes: “In the spandrel between the second and third arch on the south side of the nave there is a seventeenth century painted escutcheon in an elaborately designed framework bearing what appears to be a ship. Within a red border below is the inscription ‘Z....well’.”  He suggests that there is evidence of further wall painting that would once have adorned the whole church and indeed a small fragment is still visible high up on the North wall.


The oak pulpit is of the Georgian period. It is interesting to note that the hinged door with its former lock space is now facing the wall. The pulpit may well have once been situated on the North side of the Chancel arch, in the more traditional position.


There are two marble memorials on the North wall. One is to the Revd. Severne Watkins and his wife, which depicts a kneeling weeping figure; the other by H. Westmacott of London is to the Stokes family.



North Transverse Chapel


Considered opinion is that the transverse chapel was added to the Nave and Chancel at the end of the 13th. century. The setting up of the chapel, possibly as a chantry, is still not proven by documentary evidence. The chapel has an altar on the East wall above which are the remains of an early wall painting. The chapel has a quadripartite vault sprung from attractive face corbels. The west and north windows, which are later insertions, consist of five cusped lancet lights.


Above the chapel is an example of a medieval Priest’s Room, access to which is by a spiral staircase from the chancel. The room has a fireplace in the north eastern corner and a vented garderobe in the north west. The shape of the external stonework suggests that both the fireplace and the garderobe had circular chimneys. The northern wall has a good example of a paired and transomed lancet window, possibly from elsewhere.


The limed-oak furnishings and  screen were part of Rector Matheson’s 1971/2 restoration. The screen was given by Joseph Browne in memory of his father Charles H. Browne - who was the village schoolmaster - and his second wife Anne. 


Inside the chapel, on the West facing wall, is a plaque that gives the list of benefactors whose gifts enabled the chapel to be restored in 1972.



The Chancel and Sanctuary


Entrance to the Chancel is through a fine perpendicular screen which has contemporary tracery and a frieze of carved foliage. The screen has been altered over the years and would have been much higher. Careful examination reveals the original carpenter’s setting out marks. The two beautiful Caroline doors which were inserted later are inscribed “Master Gilbert, Parson of Clifton in the year of Our Lord 1643.” The holes where the Rood Loft would have fitted and a very small window that would have lit the rood can be seen high in the Nave.


The Chancel and Sanctuary are 55 feet long and give an impression of great spaciousness. The Chancel and two bays of the Sanctuary are part of the early 13th.-century church. One of the early lancet windows of c. 1200 still lights the Chancel and the remains of another two are visible in the North wall.


Behind the recent limed oak choir stalls are some fine 14th.-Century misericords which have alternating naturalistic foliage and figure heads as their seats. There are three on the North side and four on the South side. Recent investigation suggests that those on the South side were built with the screen and that there were originally eight, as described by Arthur Mee in the Staffordshire volume of his series “The King’s England”.  There is much speculation as to why Clifton has such fine misericords. Was Richard de Stafford trying to elevate the status of the church?  The only clue thus far is from Stebbing Shaw who states: “ In the North Chancel are seats, after the manner of prebendal stalls, or the seats in colleges, for the master and fellows”.  .


The South wall of the 13th.-Century church was pierced in 1361 when the Chantry chapel was added. The 3 bays have a  beautiful arcade with quatrefoil columns and arches with moulding including 2 quarter roll and fillets.


The added C14th. sanctuary is dominated by a fine East window in Decorated style with stained glass  by the C19th firm Jones & Willis that featuring  Old Testament stories in the upper quatrefoils and the Birth, Baptism, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord in the lower five rectangular panels. In the South wall of the Sanctuary, near to the East end is a piscina which has a nodding ogee head and three seat sedilia with damaged tracery of circa 1340. The damage was possibly caused by the insertion of the later square headed windows which show traces of painting.


The two marble monuments to Sir Charles, Sir Richard and the Revd. Sir Robert Pye, Lords of the Manor from 1701 to 1734, were executed by the Dutch sculptor John Rysbrach, who settled in England in 1720. Set in the floor are the memorial stones for Nathaniel Selleck, Rector from 1690 - 1700, his second wife Susanna, and also Susanna their only daughter.



The Lady Chapel


In the Lichfield Episcopal Registers of 1361, mention is made of the “Ordination of a Chantry on the South side of the church in honour of the Holy Trinity, Mary the Mother of God, and all the Saints, and for the safety of the noble Sir Richard de Stafford, Kt., Lord of Clyfton. . . . for Sir Richard Stafford and his wife Maud, and for the soul of Isabel, his former wife.”


Entry to the Chapel, from either the nave or chancel, is through fine 14th.-century screens, the doors of which are hung on their original  hinges. The eastern bay of the 14th.-century screen was destroyed at some time and the space is now occupied by a  Caroline screen bearing the inscription “HG 1634”.


In the centre of the chapel is an alabaster monument bearing an inscription to Sir John Vernon of Harlaston and Ellen his wife 1545. Sir John and his wife are recumbent and his feet rest on a lion. The cusped sides incorporate a shield, figures of angels and priests and there are pretty friezes that depict beasts and birds on the base. Traces of paint can be found on several parts of the monument, suggesting that  the tomb would have been most resplendently painted in red, green and gold.


The roof is of a low pitch and the five tie beams have short stubby king posts and pleasing decorated central bosses of which only two complete ones remain. Above the organ there are two tie beams set in very close proximity to each other which suggests two separate building phases.


A Faculty of August 1927 authorised “The removal of the existing deal Altar and the substitution of a new Altar of Stone with Cross, Candlesticks, Vases of Hardwood, Frontals, Riddel Posts, and Chairs within the Lady Chapel situate on the South Side of the Chancel...”


In the sanctuary is an interesting brass of about 1360 of a lady, possibly the effigy of Maud the second wife of Sir Richard Stafford. The brass is a palimpsest, consisting of part of the effigy of a cross legged knight.


Beside the screen is a large church chest cut out of a solid tree trunk. Possibly the chest referred to in the Episcopal Registers of 1361? “ All the muniments of the chantry are to be kept in a chest in the church......”   On the South wall just beside the screen is a substantial carved head.


Within the chapel is the organ, which was built by Brindley & Foster of Sheffield in 1874 and placed in the church in 1907. In 1975 the organ was enlarged, using pipe work from another Brindley & Foster organ and resited at an angle.



The South Aisle


The South aisle or Haunton aisle is 15th. Century and incorporates the late 13th.Century transept as indicated by a clearly visible butt joint and roof timbers. The roof is 15th Century of a low pitch and   has bracketed tie beams and short stubby king posts. The South porch is contemporary with the aisle, was re-roofed  by Caroe in 1906 and during the 1997 restoration with random slates from a quarry in Kent. The ‘medieval looking’ roof truss of the porch is by Caroe.


 In the South wall of the aisle is a significant low arch similar to that in the Nave. Shaw records this as the tomb of the founder of the later church, Sir Richard Stafford, who died in 1381. The wall painting depicts the Coronation of the Virgin. The painting was uncovered in 1933 by Professor Tristram, who dates it to the first part of the 14th. century, well before Sir Richard’s death.  Professor Tristram says:  “The painting consists of a Coronation of the Virgin in the centre, with supporting figures of a knight and lady ........The figure of Christ, with a cruciform nimbus, clad in tunic and mantle, is depicted seated on a throne of simple design, holding a ‘universe’ surmounted by a Cross in His left hand; the right hand raised in benediction. On His right, seated facing Him, is a figure of the Blessed Virgin, her hands raised in adoration; she is wearing a crown. Confused with this painting is one of slightly later date which must have been painted over it soon after its execution. Of the two shields only the left one is decipherable and it depicts the coat of arms of the Vernons.”


 Tristram’s interpretation of the paintings is that “one of the early patrons of the Church was Baron Camville of Clifton who died in 1309. His granddaughter Maud married Richard Vernon of the village of Harleston, and the Vernons thenceforth until the seventeenth century appear to have been closely associated with the church of Clifton. The date of Richard Vernon and his wife Maud appear to be coeval with that of the painting, and it might reasonably be assumed that these figures are representations of these personages, especially as the Vernon Coat-of-Arms was added at a slightly later date.”


Professor Tristram also executed  a water colour of  the wall painting.


To the West is a memorial by W. Behnes to the Revd. John Watkins, his wife Elizabeth and their only daughter Mary Anne.



The Tower


The tower and spire were the last parts of the church to be built, probably towards the end of the 14th. century. The proportions are considered to be particularly fine.  The North and South windows each have three trefoil headed lights, whilst the western window has 19th.-century Decorated style tracery. The high pointed arch that leads into the nave together with the windows gives an impression of great loftiness and space. The ceiling vault has some fine face corbels.


Under the tower is an early wall font described by Stebbing Shaw:  “At the West end of the church is a plain octagonal stone font.” Another description of the font can be found in “The Fonts of Staffordshire” by S.A.Jeavons in the Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society Vol. 68.  He refers to the 14th.-century font as  “octagonal in shape with a base similar to that of Bobbington. The panels are completely plain, and the western one is roughly trimmed showing that it was attached either to the wall or a pillar of the south arcade in its original state. The present tapering pedestal is part of the spire which was renovated some years ago.” 


To the south side of the tower base above the tower door can be seen the remains of early wall paintings. Professor Tristram in his report states that: “there are remains of the upper part of a rectangular panel framed in parallel bands of ochre and pink, the inner being cusped at the head, and in the central upper part remains of what may have been a cruciform nimbus. The work appears to have been of fifteenth century date.”  During the 19th century there was a west gallery under the tower for the musicians.  The blocked access door is clearly visible.


A small door at the south east corner of the tower gives access via a stone spiral staircase to the ringing chamber and clock. The clock is by J. Smith & Sons, Midland Clock Works, Derbys. Eng. and was installed in 1940. A further climb leads to the bell chamber, where there is a  view of the inside of the spire, and finally a few more steps lead out onto the parapet where one can admire the view of the  surrounding countryside and marvel at the skill of the 14th Century  masons in building a 61 m (201 ft.) spire. 



In the belfry there are six bells, which are chimed because of the fragility of the spire.


The Treble (little bell) has the inscription:

“This bell was given by Alwyn Dunn 1969”


The second bell added in 1816, and has upon it:

“T. Cooper, C.W. The Rev. J. Watkins, Rector. T. Briant, Hereford, fecit.”


The third bell(1640) bears the inscription:

“God save His Church” (G. Oldfeld).


The fourth bell was added in 1756, and the inscription is:

Celorum Christe placeat tibi Rex

Sonus iste.

‘Thomas Eayre Kettering fecit”


In translation  - “May this sound be pleasing to you Christ King of Heaven”

Maker - Thomas Eayre of Kettering


The fifth bell, the oldest, was added in 1634, and it bears the inscription:

“Ex dono Henr. Gilberti Rector. Clifton”


The tenor (great bell) was added in 1763 and bears this inscription:

I to the church the living call, And to the grave do summon all”



The Silver


A silver chalice of 1986 which has an hexagonal stem and geometrical knop and is engraved: “In memory of Major Richard Gordon Reed 1918-1984”.


A plain silver paten of 1985, the rim engraved with: “In memory of Brigadier William John Reed 1926-1992 Patron of the Parish of Clifton Campville 1984-1992”.


A silver chalice of 1925 with a gilt interior. The stem has a sphere of lapis lazuli and the hexagonal base is stepped and has arched decoration interspersed with three religious symbols.


Early 19th.-century Sheffield plate chalice with gilt interior and inscribed: “The gift of the Rev’d Jn. Watkins. Rector of Clifton Campville, this day 29th. day of Augt. 1818”.


A Victorian silver gilt paten, the centre engraved with an ecclesiastical cross among scroll and quatrefoil, the underside engraved: “Clifton Campville Church 1853”.


A silver covered paten of chalice form, with a cover surmounted by an ecclesiastical cross and dated 1974.

Silver finger bowl with castellated rim, reeded foot trim and dated 1914.


Silver rectangular holy bread holder of 1986. The lid is engraved with a cross and the gilt interior fitted with ten partitions. The lid is engraved: “In memory of John Campbell Mantell M.B.E. of the Parish. 1923-1983”.


Pair of clear glass and silver mounted decanters of pear shape, dated 1986.


Top of page




Lichfield Episcopal Registers   -  1366


B’ham Arch. Soc Vol.68


Proceedings at Meetings  B’ham Arch. Journal, no.90 - 1933


Listed Buildings Survey - 1962                                                                 D.O.E.


Church Guide -1998                                                                                Martin Browne


St. Andrew's Church Clifton Campville

      Report on Phase 1 of the investigation and

      conservation of Wall Paintings  - 1998                                              John Burridge


Church of St. Andrew Clifton Campville -1906                                         W. D. Caroe


The Fonts of Staffordshire -1952                                                           S.A.Jeavons


The King’s England Staffordshire – 1948                                                Arthur Mee


St. Andrew's Church Chantry Priest's Room

 Archaeological brief -1997                                                                   Bob Meeson 


St. Andrew's Church Clifton Campville Archeological brief - 1998            Bob Meeson                                                                                                             


The Buildings of England: Staffordshire – 1951                                      Nikolaus Pevsner


St. Andrew’s Church Clifton Campville – 1961                                          Major R. Reed


Anglo-Saxon Charters – 1975                                                                  Professor Sawyer


The History and Antiquities of Staffordshire – 1798                              Stebbing Shaw


Shell Guide to Staffordshire -1978                                                        H. Thorold


Clifton Campville Church – 1933                                                              Prof. E. W. Tristram