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St Mary's Church

St Mary's Church

A Roman temple is believed to have been the first building on the site of St Mary's church in Hanley Castle, followed by a Saxon church, although nothing remains of these early buildings except archaeological footprints revealed by dowsing surveys. There is evidence of a Saxon church in the form of the Lechmere stone, an ancient tombstone dated between the 9th and 11th centuries, and of graves uncovered beneath the existing path to the church during widening work some years ago. The original path led in from the eastern boundary of the churchyard, which used to form part of the main track from the castle to the village and on more or less parallel to the existing road towards Worcester.

The present church was founded in the 12th century using Roman bricks and Saxon stone in its construction, but the only remaining Norman feature is the south doorway. Extended soon after 1300, it retains 14th century nave windows and the north aisle. The original tower was damaged during the Civil War and was replaced by a massive brick tower with battlements in 1674, when the east end was rebuilt under the patronage of the Lechmere family of Severn End. They again rescued the church from decay in 1858 by funding a major restoration, including the installation of stained glass and Minton tiles.

The tower contains a peal of six bells all originally cast by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester in 1699; they were last recast and tuned in 1929.

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