This old and beautiful church stands in the site of a deserted village. It is Norman in origin, though there has been a church here since Saxon times. A priest is recorded being present in the Doomsday Book in 1086. The circular churchyard is thought to be of Celtic origins. It contains a cross which is medieval and has on it sculptures of the Crucifixion and the Virgin Mary. Close by is a yew of immense girth which may date from the time of Edward I.
The church itself is built from a local reddish sandstone and also a grey sponge-like tufa. The tufa stone used in its construction, which is also known as travertine, is thought to have been quarried from Soustone Rock which is near the road between Stanford and Shelsley Walsh. It is also thought that several other churches in the area were built from the same stone, notably at Eastham. It’s impossible to see Soustone Rock nowadays because it’s completely covered in fir trees. Apparently when tufa is newly quarried it is quite soft but slowly hardens with ageing.
Weathering has occurred over the centuries since the original rendering has gone, although traces may be seen in the north and south nave walls. Nowadays the church is topped by clay tiles, though almost certainly it originally had stone tiles. The tower is cedar shingled dating only from 1959.
The entrance is typically Norman with four small arches, each different but all from one stone.
The Nave roof is 15th century, and consists of molded and cambered tie beams. The nave itself has two lights – single lancets of the 12th century as well as a modern window beside the pulpit. There is also a window on the south-east wall of the 14th century. The nave itself was extended in the 12th and 15th centuries when the bell tower was enclosed and the west timber nave wall replaced the old stone one. This supported a minstrel’s gallery. The old box pews were replaced in 1883-4, as part of a major restoration, the old doors being ‘recycled’ for use in the vestry. The old north door was blocked recently and the recess created contains the war memorial.
The Chancel arch was constructed in 1120, probably from the original pillars of the old Saxon church. It is flanked by a blind arcade of two arches.
The Chancel itself was built in 12th century and rebuilt in 14th and partly rebuilt in the 18th (north & west walls). Restoration was carried out in 1910 when the original materials were used.
The Tower consists of heavy timbers, cross braced and not connected to the surrounding walls. There are two bells one dated 1625 – but recast in 1885 and a small ‘ting-tang’.
Information gathered from The Church of St. Michael Knighton-on-Teme : A History available from the church.
Thanks to Derek Marks for additional material on the church’s construction.
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