The Church is situated at the north end of Manor Road, alongside a lane by Wickhamford Manor. This 16
th century house stands on the site of a grange of Evesham Abbey, which held lands here until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The Manor passed to the Throckmorton family, who sold it to Sir Samuel Sandys in 1594.
A valuation survey map from just before World War 1 shows that the church was set within the grounds of Wickhamford Manor. Details of burials in the graveyard are not covered in this article. Burials from the early 1950s took place in the new cemetery in Golden Lane, but existing graves in the churchyard were used for family members until the 1980s. The following photographs illustrate the architectural features of the church, its furnishings, memorial plaques, the Sandys monument and a few curiosities. It is not a complete inventory of all of the dedications to be found in the church but is nevertheless fairly comprehensive.
1. The church of St John the Baptist, Wickhamford.
2. Wickhamford church with west tower (17th C), south porch (18th C), nave (14th C + 17th C reconstruction) and chancel of coursed Lias sandstone (13th C) with a sealed door.
3. West tower in late Perpendicular style, completed in 1686, with battlements and short pinnacles.
4. Ashlar (large blocks with even faces and square edges) masonry of the west tower.
5. The plain south porch of 1730.
6. The main entrance to the church in the south porch.
7. The sealed south door into the chancel. Rev. Hunt sealed it in the mid-19th century, as men coming in this way would throw their hats and coats onto the Altar !
8. Square-headed mullioned windows in the south wall of the nave.
9. Pews and boxed pews, some with re-used 16th century linenfold panelling, flag stoned floor, plastered walls and queen-strut roof.
10. Box pew opposite the pulpit with 16th century linenfold panels.
11. Choir gallery with panelled front - taken down in the 1890s and restored in 1949 by George Lees-Milne. The outer carved panels are figures of saints that may be of continental origin.
12. Plaque commemorating the restoration of the gallery by George Lees-Milne in 1949.
13. Royal arms dated 1661 but with monogram of James II ('I R' in the top centre). The plaque beneath commemorates a restoration of the church in 1841 by Arthur, Lord Sandys of Ombersley Court.
14. Chancel arch in Decorated style with 17th century oak gates. There are no stalls in the chancel, which is typical of small churches up until the mid 19th century.
15. Three-decker 17th or 18th century pulpit, with carved saints and cherubs, and the lower clerk's and reader's desks.
16. The carvings on the pulpit came from a London church in 1841.
17. Panels around the pulpit with ornate Flemish carving.
18. Clear leaded glass window, of the Decorated style, in the north wall by the pulpit.
19. Tablets in memory of the dead of both World Wars who had connections to the village.
20. South window in nave in memory of George Mason, killed in action in France in 1917, which was erected in 1920.
21. Plaque in memory of Cecilia Barnard, who never married after the loss of her fiancé, George Mason, in 1917.
22. Wall tablet in memory of Robert Bailey, brother of Helen Lees-Milne. He never lived in the village but his name is on the Great War memorial tablet as she was his next-of-kin.
23. Wall tablet in memory of George and Helen Lees-Milne above the family box pew, across the aisle from the pulpit.
24. Wall tablet in memory of Bertha Drysdale. Her son Roger's death is recorded on the Great War memorial tablet and Drysdale Close is named in her honour.
25. The oldest tablet in the Church is on the wall of the box pew with the Lees-Milne plaques. It reads
“here lieth Jane the Wife of Thomas Sponer who departed this life the 10 of March 1584 etatis 74”.
26. Memorial tablet on the floor of the Chancel to Mary Sandys
27. Memorial to Thomas Timbrill, on the wall of the box pew with the Lees-Milne plaques.
28. Double monument to Sir Edwin and, slightly raised, his father Sir Samuel Sandys with canopy and 5 black Corinthian columns, which may have been added in the 1840s.
29. The Sandys memorial - top achievements of mantelled arms, obelisks and allegorical figure, probably added to the original tombs in the 1840s.
30. Monument to Sir Samuel Sandys and his wife Mercy,
31. Sir Samuel Sandys, died 2nd Sept 1626, and Mercy who was buried on 20th Jan. 1629. These dates are incorrect, as the burial register states that Samuel was buried on 20th August 1623 and Mercy on 26th January 1629.
32. Effigies of Sir Samuel and Mercy Sandys.
33. Carvings showing that Samuel and Mercy Sandys had 4 sons and 7 daughters.
34. Monument to Sir Edwyn Sandys and his wife Penelope,
35. Sir Edwyn Sandys died on 23rd Sept. 1626 - only 21 days after his father - and Penelope buried on 21st Sept. 1680. Again, incorrect dates, as Edwyn was buried on 9th September 1623 and Penelope on 13th September 1680.
36. Effigies of Sir Edwyn and Penelope Sandys.
37. Carvings showing that Edwyn and Penelope Sandys had 5 sons and 3 daughters.
38. Floor slab monument to Penelope Washington in the Chancel. She was the daughter of Col Henry Washington and his wife Elizabeth
nee Packingham. When Henry died, his wife married Samuel Sandys (1615-1685), son of Sir Edwyn. Elizabeth’s daughter, Penelope Washington accompanied her mother to Wickhamford and died here on 24th Feb. 1697.
The Washington Arms are a prototype for the 'Stars and Stripes' of the USA. (George Washington’s grandfather, Lawrence was a first cousin of Col Henry Washington).
39. 17th or 18th century communion rails. Archbishop Laud ordered that Altars be placed against the east wall of churches and railed in for greater reverence (and to prevent dogs fouling the Altar).
40. Communion table in the chancel - although not genuinely Jacobean, it is made of carved pieces of oak of that period.
41. 17th century oak font in the chancel, with figures of saints and cherubs heads and a cover
surmounted by the Sandys griffin.
42. A very faded painting of Virgin and child on east wall of chancel believed to be 13th century.
43. Early English style lancet windows in east wall of chancel.
44. Decorated style clear glass window in the south wall of the chancel.
45. Early English style clear glass window in the south wall of the chancel.
46. Stone font in the nave, restored by Rev. T. H. Hunt, who became vicar in 1852.
47. The old stone font with a 20th century cover.
48. Font cover to commemorate the time (1948-1957) that Wilfred Broadhurst Chapman was vicar.
49. The queen-strut roof of the nave. The paired vertical timbers are placed symmetrically on the horizontal tie beam tosupport the side purlins.
50. Five wooden panels with tracery, displayed in the vestry, are probably from a Perpendicular style pulpit.
51. Cupboard in the vestry, made up from 16th century painted panels, probably from Ribbesfield House, near Bewdley.
52. Detail of the painted panels on the cupboard in the vestry – I.
53. Detail of the painted panels on the cupboard in the vestry – II.
54. The church in the 1930s, before the boundary wall was built.
55. The church in the 1920s or 1930s, before the boundary wall was built.
56. This higher part of the Churchyard wall and the adjoining wall dividing the front and rear gardens of the Manor are all that remains of a great stone barn that stood between the Church and the Manor.
The photographs (Nos 1-53 and 56) were taken by Peter Stewart and Tom Locke. The accompanying notes were gleaned from “The Buildings of England – Worcestershire” by Alan Brooks and Nikolaus Pevsner (Yale University press, 2007), “Churches of England” by Tim Bridges (Logaston Press, 2000) and the guide for visitors to the Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Wickhamford, available in the Church.
Tom Locke – July 2013