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