of St Mary's Church
Middleton was mentioned in the Doomsday Book as 'Micletune'.
The hamlet of Middleton, once connected by several roads, is now in
surrounded by fields and the Church in its triangular churchyard with
old yew and chestnut trees are enclosed by buildings of all ages from
the 17th to the 20th C. In 1848, about a third of Middleton Parish
was transferred to St Michaels to create a new Parish. With the loss
of Parishioners and the decline in agriculture the number of funerals
held annually decreased from about five to the present level of about
one a year between 1850 and 1920.
We know there was once also a chapel
about 1 km South East of the Church and
farmhouse in the Parish, but no trace remains on the ground. The
present church is of great interest as the nave and the chancel date
from the 12th Century and the tower was added in the 13th Century.
It is constructed from random coursed local sandstone.
Nave. The North wall has three windows, the Easternmost being
of the 14th Century and the others of the 12th Century. The North
doorway now blocked has flanking buttresses, which include corbels
two heads, probably taken from a corbel table. The fine arch has
chevron carved voussoirs surrounded by a ball-decorated cornice.
This was traditionally
known as the 'Funeral Door". The main door opposite in the South
wall is similar door but plainer, which was known as the 'Wedding
Also in the South wall, there are three windows of which the centre
are three windows of which the centre one has been enlarged. In Victorian
times, the interior Nave walls were partly plastered and given ‘ribbon
pointing’to imitate random ashlar and decorated with painted
texts. The roof is of a timber trussed rafter type, once planked
The Font. Near the door is the plain stone font, which is believed to be even
earlier than the rest of the building.
The Plate. An inventory of the reign
of Edward the Sixth reads "Myddleton, 23 May 1553. First a chalice
with a paten of silver parcel gilt, 1oz and 5oz three bells whereof
the least is XXXV inch, the second XXXI the third XXXI inches brode
over the mouths. Parishioners: John Phelips, John Sowade and Hughe
Wynete." (sic). These same bells, over 500 hundred years old,
still ring out, but no doubt at the time of the Dissolution of the
Monasteries the plate was hidden, perhaps buried, never to be recovered.
The Tower. The
top stage, containing the bell chamber, has a 15th Century embattled
parapet and the whole stage is probably of that date. The two lower
stages are 13th Century with lancet windows in the North and West walls
and a small Eastern light at the upper level. An 18th century door
is set in the South Wall. There are three bells, cast in the Worcester
foundry in the 15th Century, each is inscribed in Lombard capitals
Sancti Maria Ora Pro Nobis.
te (de) delis habeo noman Gabrielis
Annis Resonant Campana Johanis
Chancel. This unadorned space emphasises the altar on its
plinth, set behind a plain sanctuary rail. To the right is a piscina
and near it a Priest’s Door.
Arch. The plain stone arch is relieved by simple capitals
carved with dogtooth mouldings. Above is an unusual small opening
where a statue of Our Lady may once
have been placed. We think the painted chalice and crosses may be
reminders of a ceremony of dedication held here in Victorian times.
a fine modem oak lectern beside the single manual organ and opposite
the pulpit and desk.
Later Additions. The timber South porch
was rebuilt in 1745 when the work was recorded in the Churchwardens accounts.
The East window over the Altar was originally in the church of Pudleston
and was installed here in 1857.
The Churchyard. There
is a sundial to the right of the path opposite the main door to the
Funeral Gate, past the yews, dated 1768. There is a War Memorial, one
few in the country, giving thanks for the safe return of all the men
of the Parish who fought in the two World Wars as a result Middleton
is known as one of the ‘Thankful Villages’. Fine trees
surround the churchyard and beautify this pleasant spot. Local volunteers
hard to conserve and encourage wildlife and wildflowers to flourish.
After a Spring cut and tidy, grass and wild flowers are allowed to
grow until seeds fall around the end of July, when all grass is cut
Adapted from Dick Child’s original (1993)