St Edburgha's Church - Yardley Old Church
The Rev William Sands was Licensed on 13th October 2009
by Bishop David
Bishop of Birmingham
as the New Priest in Charge
It is believed that there was a church on this spot in Saxon times, more than one thousand years ago. Yardley is first mentioned as a place in the year 972AD, when a Charter - which may be seen in the British Museum - of King Edgar, confirming the Gift of the Manor of Yardley, spelt at that time ”Gyrdleach”, to Pershore Abbey.
The Church is dedicated to a Saxon Princess, St Edburgha, who was one of the nine daughters of King Edward the Elder, and thus a grand-daughter of King Alfred the Great. She became a nun and later an Abbess and was buried at Winchester when she died on the 15th June AD 960. Various symbols of her life, Crowns – Sandals – Bibles – Chalices, may be seen around this church.
For these reasons we believe that this ancient Parish Church stands on a site dedicated to the Worship of God before the Norman Conquest, and no doubt traces of Saxon foundations would be found beneath the present floor.
The earliest part of the present Church is the Chancel, at the east end, which dates back to the first half of the 13th Century – about 1230 AD. This was the original small Church. Traces of these early years may be seen in the narrow lancet window on the south side, the outside of the Priests door nearby, the piscina for washing the Holy Communion vessels on the south wall in the Santuary and the line of the old roof which may be traced in the plaster on both sides.
In the first half of the 14th Century – about 1330AD – the Church was enlarged by the building of the Nave, and both the North and South Transepts, which become cross shaped. Before the year 1400 the North Transept was extended westward, thus creating the North Aisle. Following this in about 1460 the beautiful Tower and Spire were erected. Then the Church was completed largely as we see it today. It is interesting to trace the various stages of the building of the Church by comparing the shape of the windows in the different parts.
The South Transept
Known as the Gilbey Chapel after Dr. Gilbey, who inherited Hay Hall, Tyseley, from the Hay and Este Families, who were entitled to be buried here. There are one or two monuments to members of the Este Family and a huge painted coat of arms known as a “Hatchment”, a shorter form of “Funeral Achievement”. At a funeral this coat of arms was placed in the church. This one belongs to the Greswolde family.
The North Aisle
Of particularly note are the carved boss in the roof timbers at the east end representing the Five Wounds of our Lord. This is part of the original woodwork, now about 600 years old. Also of note is the Stained Glass “shield” in memory of William Sutherns the last schoolmaster of the Trust School nearby
Of particular interest here is the list of Vicars , research by Canon Cochrane in 1925
The oldest part of the present building - the original Church. The window glass and the furniture are less than 100 yeas old, but there are a number of interesting monuments dating from the different periods of English History. Isabel Wheler, who lived at Lea Hall, is commemorated with her two husbands in the brass on the north wall, near the vestry door, which dates from 1598 in the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First.
The Dods, also of Lea Hall, were a Royalist family in the Civil Wars, with Charles Dod being fined £30.00 in 1658 for his Royal sympathies. Most of the monuments are to the members of the Grewolde Family, of Malvern Hall, Solihull, who were the Lay Rectors of the Church, and therefore entitled to be buried in the vaults beneath the Chancel Floor. The largest and most florid monument commemorates Henry Greswolde, Rector of Solihull, who died in 1700, his wife, Ann and their eleven Children. This monument was restored in 1969 having become very dilapidated. The Chancel, like the rest of the Church was re-roofed in 1926. The previous wooden had been covered by a much lower plaster one.
Before the Reformation this was separated from the Chancel by Rood Screen and Loft, traces of which were found during the work in 1926. The Jacobean Pulpit, one of the few in the Midlands, was given to the Church by Edward Este in 1627.
The Lectern is modern and incorporates some of the old oak from the Chancel Roof. The Pews in the Nave are about 100 to 150 years old. In the Middle Ages there were no pews in any of our churches, only a few stone benches along the walls for the infirm or elderly.
At the west end of the Nave on a corner of the wall in the Northwest end is the oldest monument in the present church. T is an Incised Slab, with the brass removed, found many years ago beneath the floor, it was the cover to the Tomb of Thomas Este He was the Porter of Kenilworth Castle. He and his wife died in 1462.