St Mary’s Church – A Brief History

This brief history of St Mary’s Church was written by Mr Peter Hewitt and is taken from a booklet titled
St Mary’s Church and Parish – Cleeton St Mary

Eric Mercer has described the church in these terms. ‘It is, perhaps, ironic that Pevsner who apprecciated Victorian architecture, dismissed St Mary’s as ‘of now architectral interest’, while Dean Cranage, who was critical of so many 19th century churches, was much impressed by it. Externally, indeed, the building is not outstanding although it is of considerable social and historical interest as part of the most complete complex in Shropshire of church, vicarage, school and almshouses built over a short period by a wealthy incumbent. Internally it is a highly original design, for its West end, wholly enclosing a West tower, is something like a narthex in a Gothic style, with two-centred arches pierced through the East, North and South ends of the West wall of the nave proper. Even the most hardened visitor of parish churches, entering from the South doorway, is quite astonished at wht he sees; and one is tempted to wonder if Pevsner evr went inside. The architect, T. Nicholson of Hereford, is undistinguished, but here, if originality and surprise are element sin architectural and aesthetic merit, he brought off something of a coup.’ The church is furnished with pews, screen, lectern and altar rail supported upon wrought iron, all of a high standard of craftsmanship. Over the altar there is a triple lance window depicting the Crucifixion, above which in a roundel is an angel holding the Shroud of Turin. In the Chancel there are niches for Communion vessels and a Piscina, and a window on the South of the Chancel shows the young Christ as a Carpenter prophetically making a cross. The glass, though not signed, is in the style of the william Morris school. These features again reflect George Pardoe’s High Church philosophy.

The first three years of the life of the Church saw the services being taken by clergy from Bitterley, but from 1881 onwards priests were appointed to the newly formed parish of Cleeton. The first may well have been George Pardoe’s curate, but thereafter the clergy would have been holding the living in their own right. The list of incumbents is given below:

1881 – 1886 Revd Alfred Burd
1886 – 1888 Revd DJ Mackay
1888 – 1899 Revd E Gedge
1899 – 1904 Revd RH Craft
1904 – 1912 Revd F Drake-Backhouse
1912 – 1918 Revd HB Talbot
1918 – 1936 Revd LO Griffiths
1936 – 1946 Revd AG Wiseman
1946 – 1952 Revd EW Sargeantson
1952 – 1964 Revd GS Hewins
1964 – 1976 Revd CWH Storey PhD, CF
1976 – 1982 Revd R Heywood-Waddington
1982 – 1989 Revd J Preece
1989 – 2007 Revd WJ Bromley
2008 – 2010 Revd CG Williams
2010 – present Revd CE Resch


Learn more about the history of the parish

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