St. Andrew and St. Mary's Condover

Early History of Condover

The Saxon kings held Condover as a large and flourishing manor.

  • The Domesday Book records that there was a Church at Condover in 1086.

  • The parish was very large, served by a number of priests based in Condover.

  • The manor house was near the Church. After the conquest, William I bestowed it upon Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury.

  • Later, King Henry I became Lord of the Manor, and came to Condover, because he enjoyed hunting in the forest in this area – the Long Forest.

  • The manor changed hands until, in 1586, it came into the hands of the Owen family. Judge Thomas Owen built the present building, Condover Hall, for his son, Sir Roger Owen. It was completed in 1598.

Condover Hall

This Hall is considered one of the finest stone Elizabethan Manor houses in the county. The Hall remained in the possession of the Owen family for many years, and there are memorials to the family in the Church.

Towards the end of the 18th century the Lord of the Manor changed the course of the road between Church and Hall, so that he had a more imposing drive. The imposing gateway to the Hall dates from this time. (This explains the winding road between the Church and the Hall entrance).

Later, the Hall was owned by the Cholmondleys, of whom there are also monuments in the Church.

The estate was sold in 1896 to Mr. E. B. Fielden, a Tory MP in Manchester.

The estate was bought by Mr.R. D. Cohen in 1926, and in 1939 by Mr. W. H. Abbey.

The ATS occupied the Hall during the Second World War.

The Hall was bought by the RNIB in 1947, and until 2004 was a school for blind children and young people who had other handicaps as well. From 2004 until recently it was owned by the Priory Group, but now it is owned by JCA, and has been developed  as a Residential  School Trips and Activity Centre.

The Church building

The Church building is one of the largest country churches in Shropshire, its size probably reflecting its early importance, and the size of the original parish.

The oldest part is the North transept, which is Norman.

The main part of the Church was rebuilt in 1662-4, after the tower collapsed dramatically in 1660.

The south transept was repaired in about 1600 by Edward Scriven, Lord of the Manor of Frodesley. It has a fine exterior half-timbered gable, which probably dates from then.

The side chapel, in the NE corner of the Church, where the monuments are, was built in 1867-8, as part of the restoration and rebuilding of the Church initiated by Reginald Cholmondley.

 He also instigated the rebuilding of the chancel, replacing the Early English one.

 The pews, pulpit, and font were replaced shortly afterwards, and the vestry and organ chamber were built at the same time.

The organ dates from 1903.

The roof

The very fine hammer beam roof dates from 17th century, when the main body of the Church was rebuilt.

The Monuments

 A. In the sanctuary

The monument in the sanctuary, on the south side is the oldest in the Church: it is in memory of Thomas Scriven, who died in 1587, and his wife Elizabeth. A plate behind the tomb records the deeds of the Scriven family.

B. In the Chapel:

 

1. A double monument, on the north wall. The upper figures are of Bonham Norton and his wife Jane. The lower figures are of Sir Roger Owen (Jane’s eldest brother) shown in armour, and her father Judge Owen (who built the present Condover Hall) in legal attire. The monument is dated 1641.

2. A monument under the window, by the French sculptor Roubillac. This is in memory of Roger Owen and his daughter Catherine, and was erected in 1746.

3. Opposite is the monument to Alice Cholmondley and her baby daughter. She died in childbirth, and her baby a fortnight later. The sculpture is the work of her husband Mr. Reginald Cholmondley.

4. The kneeling figure holding a sword is the work of G. F. Watts. It commemorates Thomas Cholmondley, the elder brother of Reginald. He succeeded to the estate in 1863, and the following year married a god-daughter of Queen Victoria, but, tragically, died while they were on honeymoon in Florence.

The Oak chest

This is the only surviving piece of furniture from the medieval building. It is about 7 feet in length. In earlier days the Church silver, and documents, were kept in it.

The Bells

John Briant of Hereford recast the present eight bells in 1812-13 from an earlier ring of bells dating back to the17th century.

The Clock

The clock was made by John Smith and Sons of Derby in the late 1800’s. Originally it was wound by hand, but in 2000 an electric motor was installed to wind the clock.

The Millennium Room

This was built to mark the year 2000, in the South transept of the Church, sometimes called the Frodesley aisle (see under Church Building). It is used for meetings, Choir practices, and occasional midweek services.