History of Our Building


The first record of two priests at Stoneleigh can be found in the Domesday Survey of 1086 but whatever building was there in the 11th Century would probably be made of wood. The church building you see today is made from red sandstone and dates from the early 12th century and consisted of a chancel and a nave either side of a decorated Norman arch. It was about this time that the living was granted by Henry I to the monastery of Kenilworth in whose hands Stoneleigh remained until the Reformation.

A great deal remains of the first stone building although the wall of the nave was almost entirely rebuilt in the 14th century when extensive alterations were made in the ‘Decorated Gothic style’. It was at this stage the south aisle was added and the 12th century north door was blocked up.  The door can still be seen externally, with its Norman arch and tympanum with two interlocked dragons biting their tails, and two interlocked snakes. These details can still be made out despite being badly eroded.

In the later part of the 17th century, 1665, the vestry was built by Thomas, the first Lord Leigh under which he made a family burial vault.

Records show very little being done to the church during the 18th century although the date 1705 was found carved on one of  the roof beams.

As it had been neglected for a substantial number of years, by the start of the 19th century extensive repairs were needed to the whole church.  These repairs were funded by the Leigh Family who also decided to make alterations to the interior in a project that lasted for a period of about 15 years. This is when the box pews and gallery were added along with two more windows to the nave. The south door was blocked up and a new porch was built. It is thought that at this time the old Norman font, recorded as being in the church in 1803, was removed and replaced by the current font, also Norman, but in a new location.

As part of this project the Leigh chapel was built, at the instruction of James Henry Leigh Esquire, as a mausoleum, with a burial vault for the sole use of his family, to replace the one under the vestry.

Since then the church interior has evolved with the needs of the congregation at a particular time.  In 2006 running water and drainage were laid on inside the church and a kitchen and toilet were installed. The most recent repairs to the stonework and roof were in 2016/17 when the nave had a new copper roof.  Inscription found on the roof structure indicates repairs or decoration were made “Xmas 1968” by A Jones, J Leach, R Terry and J Bell. A plaque nearby which as not fixed, records the names R Bevan and R Heath, 1983.


TOWER

The tower was added later in the 12th century but only part of its original stonework remains.  The north, south and east walls are Norman but the western wall, with its buttresses, was rebuilt in the first 50 years of the 14th century.

The belfry was added in the 15th century. It contains 6 bells, the earliest from 1530.

The original clock was installed at the end of the 18th Century. It was restored a few times before it was replaced in December 2010 by Clockmakers, Smith of Derby.  The new clock dial is made of Marine ply, with gilded hands and contains auto winding and pendulum regulator equipment which means the weekly task of winding both elements of the clock is no longer necessary.