The Church at Clee St Margaret

The Church at Clee St Margaret

On the western slopes of the Brown Clee Hill, above the South Shropshire market town of Ludlow, sits the beautiful village of Clee St Margaret and its church. It is believed that there has been a church here since Saxon times, but the current church dates from the early Norman era.

St Margaret's Church, Clee St Margaret, Shropshire.
St Margaret’s Church, Clee St Margaret, Shropshire.

The church of St Margaret is a small church with just a nave, chancel and belfry. As with many other churches, this one has been added to and restored over its long lifetime. The whole building was restored in 1872 when the vestry was built. In 1897, the bellcote was remodelled in commemoration of Queen Victoria’s long reign.

The churchyard at Clee St Margaret.

Clee St Margaret Church.

In 1905, a visitor passing through the village of Clee St Margaret sought shelter in the church during a storm. Their dismay at the state of the church prompted a letter to the Ludlow Advertiser (published 29th July 1905):

“Sir, – Some time ago I was passing through the village of Clee St Margaret’s, and, being a stranger to the place, I sought shelter in the Parish Church during a storm. Coming outside what a sight of desolation met my gaze. The churchyard was overrun with weeds and nettles to the height of two or three feet; the channels around the church were completely blocked up. The lead was hanging in strips from the bell turret, through which the rain was pouring into the church, rotting the pews into which it fell. Can it be wondered at that most of the parishioners fight shy of a place which is conducted in such a slovenly manner? I am told that last Sunday week, not one adult went near in the morning, and only one last Sunday morning besides the clerk.    A Visitor.”

Inside St Margaret's Church.
Inside St Margaret’s Church.

Inside St Margaret's Church.

A narrow stained glass window in the church.
A stained glass window in the church.

Considerable damage was caused to the vestry and the roof of the nave in a severe gale in 1976 and so the church was redecorated and new lighting installed.

As can be seen from my photos, the church at Clee St Margaret is well taken care of these days. There are no leaks in the roof and the churchyard is kept tidy. A warm welcome is bestowed upon visitors today.

Clee St Margaret Church

St Margaret's Church.

Take a close look at some of the walls at the eastern end of the church and you’ll notice some interesting herringbone stonework.

The Church at Clee St Margaret.

Herringbone Stonework at Clee St Margaret Church.
Herringbone Stonework at Clee St Margaret Church.

Whilst this isn’t my local church, it will always be a special place for me. My great-great grandmother, great-great uncle, great grandparents and two of their young children are buried in the churchyard. Two of my great grandfather’s siblings married their partners and at least 8 family members, including my nan, have been baptised in the church.

Clee St Margaret Church.

Church House, next to the church at Clee St Margaret.
Church House, next to the church at Clee St Margaret.

I think my nan and her siblings were lucky to grow up in such a beautiful part of the country. I really must stop and take photos of the village next time I am up there as there are so many wonderful buildings. I guess that will be another blog post sometime!

37 comments

  1. Ann says:

    I’ve never been to Clee St Margaret, but I know the area, which is absolutely delightful. Must put this gem of a church on my itinerary, if we ever make it to our beloved Shropshire again.
    Any mention of Brown Clee Hill always reminds me of one of my favourite parts of Housman’s A Shropshire Lad, From Clee to heaven the beacon burns, and in particular the line: Look left, look right, the hills are bright …
    So thank you for the reminder, Nikki! xxx

  2. Kris P says:

    Other than some mission churches established in what is now California, I can’t say I’ve seen any churches that old in my part of the world. However, there are undoubtedly more in the eastern part of the country than the west. It’s also uncommon here to find cemeteries attached to churches anymore. I’m glad you have an opportunity to rekindle your family connection in this way.

  3. Kelly says:

    What a lovely church… both inside and out. I’m glad it got the love it needed to be fixed back up. It’s interesting to know the connection, too!

  4. There are so many beautiful churches in this country, I would love to be able to travel around and build up a photographic record of them all, but I fear that it would run into the tens of thousands by the time I had finished, if I ever did mange to complete the challenge!

    I’m sure that in our weekend job with “Treasure Trails”, we have visited a Tithe Barn which has some herringbone stonework, although not as much as on St Margaret’s and I have never seen it on a church down this way before.

    The family connection is a lovely part of the story too, you are fortunate to have such a well documented history of your ancestors.

    Thanks for sharing and I hope you are managing to fit in some reading too! 🙂

  5. Sophie says:

    What a beautiful little church! I wasn’t expecting it to still be functional when I first saw the photos from the outside and got such a pleasant surprise when I saw how well kept it is now x

  6. What a beautiful little church, I’d love to see it. I hope that visitor’s letter in 1905 spurred someone into getting some repairs done soon afterwards, though at least it’s well cared for now 🙂

  7. I have a feeling my dad’s been to Clee St Margaret. I’ll have to ask him. The church is like the sweet, small town/village one that was by me as a kid when I lived in Ledbury. My parents used to live in Shropshire and I still have cousins there, so I wouldn’t mind a day trip to explore around there and see my cousins one day post-pandemic (whenever the heck that is). Really enjoyed the post and you have some great photos – I’d love to read more about village if you ever do decide to do another blog post on it! xx

  8. Hello Nikki,
    What a beautiful church. Thank you for sharing the photos and information. I enjoyed the blog post very much.
    Thank you also for calling into my blog to say that it was so kind of you.
    I’m well, thank you and I hope you are too. Barbara xx

  9. Jude says:

    Love the simplicity of a space like this church. No need for fancy ornament to be able to simply stop and reflect.
    Great piece Nikki.

  10. I only know Shropshire from the canal, this certainly inspires me to investigate a bit further. You also make me think it is high time I paid a visit to Oxfordshire to look up some of my own families connections.

  11. Loren says:

    Thank you for sharing this, I love old buildings and churches! The stonework and general (re)construction of the church are amazing and I love how with the stained glass windows you can see that it’s defiantly not modern architecture/construction.

    • Nikki says:

      Thankfully the church is in a part of the country where there would be utter uproar if it was to be knocked down. The church is still in use, but I know of one nearby which has been tastefully converted into a house.

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