Stoke Bliss fabric and history

STOKE BLISS is recorded in the Domesday Survey of 1086 as being held by one Codric, and including "one hide, and one plough: six villagers with three ploughs, and three slaves". The value was 25/-.

SAINT PETER'S CHURCH, which stands on a spur above two tributaries of the Kyre Brook within a large oval churchyard, was founded in the 12th century by Matilda de Mortimer, a member of the family which governed the Marches.

THE BUILDING. The North wall survives from the Norman foundation, and the Font is also Norman, with plain arched panels typical of Purbeck marble fonts.

The South aisle is Early English, from the 13th century; it has a piscina by the small altar under the unusual Dormer window. The arcade separating the South aisle from the nave leans outwards. The lancet windows in the south wall of the Chancel are also of this period.

Behind the organ is a window, which now gives onto the vestry, with fine oak tracery. In the 1850's major restoration was undertaken, when the east and west walls and windows were rebuilt, the chancel piscina and vestry added, and the chancel door cut. The tower, with its shingled spire which is visible from most of the parish, replaced an earlier wooden bell turret. it houses a peal of three bells, dated 1669, 1687 and 1842, and a call bell, This restoration saw the use of tufa, an open textured stone found in the Teme valley, which can be seen in other churches in the area (notably Eastham).

The west window was installed in 1885, and the cast window in 1974. This replaced a window destroyed by a blast from an angry farmer's shotgun. There is some controversy concerning the possible cause of his anger.

Major restoration was again undertaken in 1986/94, when over £45,000 was spent, mainly on repairs to walls and roofs. The money was raised by efforts of the parishioners, grants from The Historic Churches Preservation Trust, Worcestershire Historic Churches Fund and English Heritage, and donations from many friends of the church, not least the Bliss Family Associations from all over the world.

THE FURNISHINGS. Apart from the Font, the most striking features in the Nave are the Pulpit and Reading Desk, dated 1631 and 1635 respectively. They are richly carved in contemporary style, with broad blank arches and upright lozenges. The Desk is also adorned with small figures and two Dragons, and the inscription "Roger Osland, Church warden 1635".

The chancel screen is 15th century, in Perpendicular style, with rose tipped tracery, and behind it is the Chamber Organ, reputed to have been used by Edward Elgar (who was born at Lower Broadheath, between Stoke Bliss and Worcester).

The Tablet behind the Altar is Victorian. It was installed in memory of the Reverend T.E.M. Holland, rector 1823 to 1864. It is typical of the period, with angels either side on a translucent background.
The furnishings in the south aisle (Altar, Reading Desk, Lectern and Chairs) were donated by the parishioners in 1974, when the aisle was dedicated as a chapel for the use of children, in memory of Beatrice Dallow, Sunday School Superintendent 1940 to 1972.

THE MEMORIALS. There are none of note, but some of interest.
The Rev. T.E.M. Hollis is commemoiated on the Altar tablet and on the Tenor bell of 1842. His sister Frances (who also donated some of the church plate) is on a plaque on the north chancel wall with her sister Harriet, and she is also the dedicatee of the West window.
Four generations of the Powell family are remembered to the right of the main south door, and a young member of the Royal Bengal Pilot Service, drowned in a bathing accident in India, on the south chance! wall.
Other rectors remembered are Matthew Bolton (1665 - 1679), Luke Ashby (1679 - 1716) and Samuel Stinton (1745 - 1761), and among Churchwardens are Roger Osland on the Reading Desk (1635), Richard Brook on one of the bells (1669) and Meredith Jones on another (1687). More recently we have J. C. Marriott, churchwarden 1957 - 69, in whose memory the West window is dedicated. The oldest memorial in the church is a stone in the south aisle floor dated 1594.


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