Modern accounts of Middleton Scriven church, such as Pevsner and Newman “The buildings of Shropshire” consider that the church of Middleton Scriven was entirely rebuilt in 1845-6 by the rector, the Rev. Dr. Thomas Rowley. This is reflected in the Historic Environment Record for the church (HER 11875). However, this does not fit easily with a written account of the restoration made by Rowley and kept within the church. In this he describes extending the nave to the west, raising the height of the roof and rebuilding the chancel, but all this assumes that he retained the north, east and south walls of the nave.
During recent restoration work at the church, it was possible to inspect and photograph the building; the dust from the construction work served to highlight ridges in the rendered interior walls of the church. These showed clear evidence of the former nave walls, exactly as implied by Rowley’s description. The photographs also showed evidence of blocked walls in the south wall of the nave and a relieving arch above the door in this wall. These features can be seen in a water colour of the church by John Homes Smith and dated to 1830. Comparison of this picture with a 1791 watercolour by Williams shows that the church had previously undergone substantial alteration, perhaps by Thomas Rowley’s father, Richard. Indeed the parish registers for 1801 refer to the first service in “the new church”.
It will be interesting to see if a faculty exists that might shed light on this earlier rebuilding. Whatever Richard did, it is clear that the majority of the nave at the church is older than current records suggest; it would not be surprising if it retains a substantial amount of medieval fabric.
Andy Johnson and David Poyner, December 2017