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A (Very) Brief HistoryShareshill Church is a Grade 2 * Listed building on account of the 13th century sandstone tower from a previous church, with a rare, Georgian nave with curved sanctuary built on.
The Georgian interior is about 260 years old. The building has exceptional acoustic qualities and is a venue for several concerts each year, (see our "Events" page).
The East end of the nave.
This picture shows the giant "angel" paper sculptures that were made for the Flower Festival
View of the Gallery prior to rebuild
and re-siting of the organ
View of the Gallery as it is today.
The church has also been used by the Chase Orpheous Choir to record CDs, and by the BBC's "Songs of Praise"
The sandstone tower was built in the 13th century. The stone is very soft and has needed a lot of expensive restoration.
The outside of the tower bears a number of interesting marks. On the south side (to the left of the church door) there are a number of marks made by musket balls; probably from around the time of the civil war. It's not known when or why.
Beneath these, and around the north side of the tower are "sharpening marks"; believed to have been made in medieval times by people sharpening arrow heads, in the days when practising your archery skills was compulsory for men of fighting age.
Many years ago someone had the bright idea of putting a window into the vestry at the base of the tower (see photo at the top of this page). This meant having to effectively remove the bottom section of the "spiral" tower stairs and replace them with the external stairs up to the bell ringing chamber.
The stairs inside the tower were designed for 13th century people who were shorter, narrower and had smaller feet!. As you reach the clock chamber you have to duck to avoid banging your head - it may be soft sandstone but it still feels pretty hard!
The photograph on the right gives gives little impression of how difficult the stairs are. It was taken with a flash so you cannot appreciate the experience of feeling your way up, torch in hand!
By venturing up the stairs and leaning precariously over the top of the bell chamber I got this picture of five of the six bells. They were last recast in 1976 by the renowned foundry of John Taylor of Loughborough, (no relation to the webmaster).
They are in regular use each week, and the team of bell ringers practice their craft most Friday evenings.
|The bells can also be "played" without swinging them using a system of the hammers attached to pulleys. It requires just one person to play them by this method: they simply tug on the hammer ropes as if playing a giant, remote-controlled xylophone! |
Being limited to just 6 notes requires some tunes to be creatively re-arranged.
The primative weight-driven clock chimes on the hour. Despite it's crude construction it keeps remarkably good time.
The drum on the left of the photograph carries the cable and weight that drives the time mechanism. To the right, with a cable running diagonally downwards, is the drum for the strike mechanism.
|Early in January 2006 a broken tooth on one of the cog wheels neccessistated removing the mechanism for repairs. To prevent future problems several new gears were made.|
The picture on the left shows Paul Adams making adjustments following re-installation. Paul was assisted by his father, George Adams, and by Shareshill webmaster, John Taylor.
|Shareshill Church's main musical claim to fame is the connection with Frances Ridley Havergal, the hymn writer. |
Her most famous hymn,"Take my life and let it be" has been adopted as the village school's special hymn.
Two images of Frances Ridley Havergal
|Her father, Henry William Havergal was the "perpetual curate" in Shareshill. |
Here are two items in the church dating back to his time in Shareshill.
The photograph on the right shows the charity board, which is visible in the view of the west end of the nave.
It lists old charities that have lapsed, much to the disappointment of W.H. Havergal.
This document, known as a "Terrier" was found recently.
It lists the fees levied by the church for various services such as burials, headstones, the "Churching of a woman on a Sunday" (following childbirth) etc.
The charges are of course in Pounds, Shillings and Pence. Fees payable to the minister are in the left of the two columns, the shorter right hand column shows the fees payable to the church warden.
It ends with the declaration that burial fees are doubled for non-residents.
There are three other boards on the walls.
The Ten Commandments board was designed by Gilbert Barrows Sully on April 6th 1903. At the time he was based in Chiswick as an architect's designer. We know this because we were recently contacted by his great grandson, Pete Hambrook of Sullys Framing
Pete came across the original drawings and sent us a picture.
Judging from similarities in design it would be reasonable to suppose that he also designed the Creed and Lord's Prayer boards.
This appears to be a quotation from the Old Testament book of Micah, chapter 6 verse 8