A brief history of the building and churchyard

St Michael's was originally built in the 12th Century (c. 1122).

It served the local village of Budebroc, which was situated to the north and east of the church building, and surrounding farms.

In 1542 the village was wiped out by the Black Death.

By the mid-17th Century the building was in a rather poor state.  

The steeple had collapsed and the south aisle "much decayed".

[Although the south aisle no longer exists, the arches which linked it to the church are still visible - one over the entrance to the south transept and two built into the south wall of the nave.]

It was in the Victorian era that the last major structural changes took place and the north and south transepts were built.

In 1877, the barracks for the Royal Warwickshire Regiment was created on the site of what is now Hampton Magna and St. Michael's became the battalion church.

Largely on account of the Norman Arch in the Church building was classified as having a grade II listing.

In 1975 the Garden of Remembrance was developed and opened for the interment of ashes.

In 1983 the Churchyard was closed to burials.

In 1988 the tower was comprehensively refurbished and the bells re-hung, but only for "swing chiming", due to structural restrictions.

In 1992 the Church Centre was built.  It was opened jointly by Mr and Mrs Harold Richardson, and the Bishop of Coventry (Rt. Revd.Simon Barrington-Ward).

In 1995, during damp-proofing works to the walls, a large portion of the floor and a number of the pitch-pine pews were found to be rotted, as a result of which the floor was concreted and the pews replaced with padded chairs.

In 1996, all of the leaded-light windows were re-leaded.

12th to 19th Century - an overview

St Michael's Church, Budbrooke, is built from grey Arden sandstone and was probably built on the site of a previous church. The church consists of a chancel, nave, two narrow transepts, a west tower and a 'modern' brick-built porch.

The oldest parts date back to the 12th century - as shown by the Norman doorway in the north wall of the nave. The external walls are heavily buttressed and tapered in cross-section.

The south wall shows signs of an earlier south aisle, which was built in the 13th century and later destroyed (see below).

The chancel was rebuilt in the 13th century and the east wall was again rebuilt in the early part of the 14th century - most of the east window is also 14th century.

The west tower was probably also built in the 13th century.

Entry to the church is through a single pair of nail studded oak doors, erected in 1668.

By the mid-17th Century the building was in a rather poor state. The steeple had collapsed and the south aisle "much decayed".

It was in the Victorian era that the last major structural changes took place and the current north and south transepts were built.

Works covered by a faculty in 1874 included removal of a medieval minstrel gallery at the west end of the nave, replacing the flooring and pews in the nave and chancel (and raising the general floor level), raising the chancel and transept arches, replacing the chancel roof and decaying timbers transforming the south transept into an organ chamber and vestry, opening out the tower archway to form the lower part into a Baptistry, providing new choir seats, prayer desks and pulpit.

The siting of the organ in the south transept didn't last long, because in 1882 the parishioners were invited to subscribe towards removal of the organ to its present position on the north side of the chancel.

A Few More Details...

Norman Arch

The oldest 'feature' of the church building is the Norman Arch, located in the north wall of the nave.

It is in-filled in sandstone and probably has been for many centuries!

The detail of the arch is best viewed from outside, although the plastered recess on the inside face is tastefully finished and provides a pleasant (although rather narrow!) setting for floral displays.

It would have provided the main entrance from the medieval village of Budebroc. It is interesting to note the low headroom beneath the arch, which gives a clue to the expected height of the villagers!

The Tower

The tower is sited at the west end of the church building. It was probably built in the 13th century and it would appear that at one time it supported a steeple. A report from a Diocesan inspection of 1667 reads in part -

" We find the Parish church in pretty good repair, only the steeple having fallen in near 12 years..."

Just above the original lowest stage there is the date 1668, which would indicate a major reconstruction of the upper stages of the tower (in response to the Diocesan inspection?) when Samuel Hawes was Vicar.

The tower underwent a major refurbishment in 1988/89, including stone replacement, reroofing and overhaul of the bells. The latter was not before time as the contractors found the supporting bolt on one bell was "hanging on by a thread".

The tower houses a number of facilities. A ground floor vestry, which became the Facilities Manager's weekday office but is now used as a meeting room, and a place for small children and their parents during services.

Above the vestry is a meeting room, constructed in the 1970s and originally used for the youngest Sunday School group. It then became a prayer room.

Above the occupied spaces is storage space and above that the belfry.

The Bells

The belfry in the tower houses 3 bells, although there is a void left for a fourth bell.

Bell 3 dated 1600, by Newcombe and Watts

Bell 1 dated 1637, by Hugh Watts of Leicester

Bell 2 dated 1724, by Joseph Smith

These bells were returned to the bellfounders in 1989 for refurbishment and then rehung, but (for structural reasons) this was only for swing chiming, not for full-circle chiming.

A short account in the booklet 'The Story of Sherbourne' indicates that one of the bells may have been seized from Sherbourne Church by the people of Budbrooke in payment of a debt. Another account suggests that it was the tenor bell and it was 'borrowed' to ring at a wedding and never returned.

The East Window

The east window is framed by an arch built in the early 14th century, but the glass and tracery are 'modern' - constructed in 1846 in memory of Arabella Jane Williams. The main illustration depicts the church's patron saint - the arch-angel Michael - defeating the devil (in the traditional form of a dragon or serpent). In the upper portions of the window the four apostles - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - are depicted in stylised form.

In addition to the east window there are number of other windows with stained glass illustrations. One of the lancet windows in the south wall of the chancel depicts Jesus as the Good Shepherd. This is a memorial to Henry Bayntun Faulkner, Vicar of the parish from 1848 - 1856.

The east window of the south transept (which is part of the earlier south aisle) has some small stylised traditional illustrations of the four apostles - Matthew as a man, Mark as a lion, Luke as a bull, and John as a dove.

Finally, the large window in the south nave wall has some small, rather indistinct, illustrations which include bread and a chalice.

All the leaded- light fenestration in the church was re-leaded in 1996.

The Dormer Memorials

The Manor of La Grove, or Grove Park as it came to be known, was granted  to Lord Dormer by James I in 1608, although it is likely that the family had lived there as 'Royal Keepers' for some 50 years before that.

There are 2 memorials to members of the Dormer family, on either side of the sanctuary. The earliest, sited on the north wall, is a plain marble slab (partly concealed by the casing to the organ), which records the burial of Robert, Lord Dormer, who died in 1563.

On the south wall is a far more elaborate marble memorial to Rowland, the 4th Baron Dormer, who died in 1712. It was erected in his memory by his sister (and heir) Ann Eyre. It is inscribed -

" Here lyeth the body of the Rt. Honable Rowland Dormer, Baron of Wing in the County of Buckingham, which Barony descended to him by the death of Charles Dormer, Earl of Caernarvon, dying without issue male. He was the son of Robert Dormer of Grove Park in the County of Warwick, son of Anthony Dormer, second son of Robert Lord Dormer, was buried Oct. 3rd, 1712. Robert Dormer married Anne Eyre of Hessop in the County of Derby, by whom he had six children, four sons and two daughters. Anthony, Joseph, Robert and Margaret died young. Rowland, Lord Dormer, eldest son to Robert Dormer and Ann also died, unmarried in 1712."

The Weathervane

The weathervane, which is sited in the churchyard to the south west of the church building, was once a focal point in Budbrooke Barracks. It was presented to the church by the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, as a memento in 1966

The Regimental Graves

Another reminder of St Michael's links with Budbrooke Barracks are the Regimental grave markers to the north of the church.

There are a number of white stone memorials, plus 12 cast metal crosses. The latter were refurbished in 1993 and reinstated with a service of rededication in March of that year.

They come under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Grave Commission.

Other reminders of the connections with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment are the Regimental flag which hangs in the north transept, the Regimental Roll of Honour which is also mounted in the north transept (alongside the memorial to villagers who died in the 'Great War') and a number of memorial tablets on the walls of the nave.

Our booklet, 'A Brief History and Walk Around', containing this information, and more, is available at the church, for which a small donation would be appreciated.