The Church Yard Extension
by David Chestney
Whittington Church is fortunate to have a Churchyard where burials may take place; Whittington is the only Church in the Worcester South East Team to have one. Space within the Churchyard was being progressively used up, the Parochial Church Council were obviously aware of the situation and had been seeking ways of overcoming the problem.
Burial records going back to the beginning of the 18th Century are held on a computer data base and these can be quickly searched for details such as dates, family links etc. Contact the Team Office for confirmation about whether your relatives are actually buried at Whittington. A printout of the actual details will involve a modest charge for the cost of administration. This charge is based on The Church of England Table of Parochial Fees.
The Weston family, who had lived in the village, and farmed the Crookbarrow estate, owned the land adjoining the Churchyard. In 1995 they generously agreed to donate an area of land to provide an extension to the Churchyard. A boundary fence was erected around the extension in the summer of 1996, and early in 1997 a hedge was planted alongside and within the fence. It consisted of: 10 Oak Trees, 200 Hawthorn, 50 Field Maple, 50 Elder, 100 Hazels. This composition of plants should enable a dense rural hedge to develop in about ten years, giving the Churchyard a sound and appropriate boundary. Both the fence and hedge were paid for by the Parish Council who are the Burial Authority. Further trees have been added including two specimen Oaks, Sycamores and Birch. A Glastonbury Thorn was planted by Whittington Women’s Institute to commemorate the centenary of the national movement.
The old boundary to the Churchyard was formed by a “ha-ha”, a stone wall on one side of a ditch. The unwanted growth and brambles were removed, to reveal the wall which will eventually be restored, access to the extension will be via an earth bank over the ditch.
A Service of Thanksgiving and Consecration of the Churchyard Extension was conducted on Sunday December 7th 1997 by the Bishop of Dudley, Rt. Rev. Dr. Rupert Hoare. Some 80 people gathered under ever darkening skies to give thanks for the transformation of the Church, and to witness the Consecration of the Churchyard extension. Following the service the congregation retired to the Village Hall for light refreshments.
Records show that the Churchyard has already been extended three times before. Firstly in 1844 just after the present Church was built. It was extended again in 1885 when land was provided by Benjamin Williams Leader and once more in 1925 with land provided by Herbert March.
The History of Whittington Church
The present church building dates from 1844 and the architect was A.E. Perkins. It was designed in the early English style, (13th century), and has a nave with lancet windows each side, a chancel, south porch and a thin stone bell turret. Special features inside the church are the box pews, the gallery, the stone altar and medieval font. For its size it has a fine organ.
The church is on the site of an ancient chapel dating from Saxon times (Hwitinton) and possibly much earlier. It was mentioned in a charter of 816AD and was originally one of the chapels belonging to St. Helen’s in Worcester. At the time of the Norman Conquest the village was called Windintum, with land held by William Ponther from Worcester Church (i.e. the Cathedral). By the Sixteenth Century it was a chapel of St Peter’s, Worcester. The Church remained a Chapelry until 1986. It is now a parish church in the benefice of the Parish of Worcester, St. Martin with St. Peter and Whittington, with its own church wardens.
In 1997 the Church was extensively re-ordered and refurbished. This involved moving the altar forward, the rearranging of some pews, rewiring and redecorating the building; thus giving us the present beautiful open interior.
The churchyard has been in existence for over 1000 years and extended twice. It was extended once again more recently and this new land was consecrated by the Bishop of Dudley in 1997.
The old Yew tree on the North side is over 700 years old. On the West side of the churchyard A.E. Perkins chose to be laid to rest in 1873, in the shadow of his beloved church.
Further detailed information about the history of Whittington church and personalities connected with it compiled by Jannine Wheatley from research by Michael Craze is available to read inside the church, or alternatively by contacting the Team Office.
Also of interest are: Whittington Worcestershire, A History of the Village by Les Wiltshire (published 2000) and Farms of East Worcester by Barbara Hopper (published 2012).