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St Mary, Birdsall

This imposing church stands on top of a sharp rise to the north of Birdsall House. It was built in the early 19th Century, with the chancel a later addition by Hodgson Fowler, and is rich in impressive detail. The highlight is the interior, where the transformation of the church from a Georgian preaching room to a splendid estate church for High Anglican ritual is clear. 

St Mary's replaced a much older church, remains of which stand picturesquely by Birdsall House, a short walk away.

The Lords Middleton, the Willoughby family, have owned BIrdsall House and the Estate since the early 18th Century. The family continues to be closely involved in the church.

As you enter the church, note the Middleton arms in bronze above the main door.

Inside, particularly impressive are the altar front, the painted reredos behind the altar and the superb painted ceiling. There is high quality work throughout the chancel area, and some interesting stained glass, with three windows by Kempe, and two superb examples by Nicholson. The monuments, too, are high quality, including a 1729 memorial sculpted by Michael Rysbrack.

Visiting the church: St Mary's is open only by special arrangement. There is an Open Day on May 28th 2011, with tours of the church - see the attached file for full details.

Churchwardens: The HonJames Willoughby and Mrs Linda Illingworth

David Quick,
11 Apr 2011, 07:45