A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11, Telford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985.
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Eyton church was recorded in 1336 when William of Kynardeseye was instituted on the death of the previous rector. (fn. 1) Its description as a chapel in the mid 16th century (fn. 2) suggests that its parochial status remained uncertain; it had perhaps originated as a manorial chapel founded by the lords of Eyton. The parishioners of Eyton were buried at Wellington until the mid 19th century, (fn. 3) a fact that suggests that the parish originated as a chapelry in Wellington parish. Nevertheless incumbents of Eyton were consistently described as rectors from 1336 and the independent parochial status of the church is not in question after the mid 16th century. John Eyton, lord of Eyton, presented to the living in 1336 (fn. 4) and the advowson descended with the manor until the living was united with the vicarage of Wellington, of which the Eyton family were also patrons, in 1767. (fn. 5)
A proportion of the greater tithes in Eyton township was appropriated to the owners of Wellington rectorial tithes. (fn. 6) In 1635 Sir Philip Eyton paid two thirds of the tithe of his estate at Eyton (the whole township) to the rector of Eyton, the other third being paid to Wellington 'parish'. (fn. 7) As late as 1736 the rector of Eyton collected tithes from the whole of Eyton township and made an annual payment of £5 14s. to St. John Charlton in lieu of 'the tithes of Eyton which are in the parish of Wellington'. (fn. 8) Tithes were paid in kind except for the tithe hay of the part of the Weald Moors in Eyton township, for which a modus of 7s. 6d. was paid from at least 1698. (fn. 9)
The glebe, which in 1635 consisted of a croft, a piece of meadow, and a number of small parcels of arable scattered in the open fields, had been consolidated by 1694 into two contiguous closes totalling 13½ a. In addition the rector held a number of cottages in Eyton township, given as 5 in 1635 and as 3 from 1694. During the in cumbency of John Manning, mentioned 1597- 1605, the glebe and tithes were farmed to David Roe of Eyton for £7 13s. 4d. a year. (fn. 10) In 1807 the glebe was given to Thomas Eyton, lord of the manor, in exchange for property in Wellington. (fn. 11) In 1635 there was no parsonage house at Eyton, nor had there been one in living memory. (fn. 12)
The living was valued at £2 4s. 8d. in 1535; (fn. 13) at £26 in 1655; (fn. 14) and at 'near' £40 c. 1693. (fn. 15) It was reputed to be worth between £40 and £50 on the eve of the union with Wellington in 1767. (fn. 16)
Most of those pre-Reformation rectors whose names are recorded were probably Shropshire men (fn. 17) and few seem to have been graduates. (fn. 18) After the Reformation the living was sometimes held in plurality, intermittently being held with Wellington and thus effecting an unofficial union of the livings before they were legally united in 1767. Such a union was mooted in 1655 (fn. 19) but almost a century earlier John Gryce, mentioned as rector 1553-84, (fn. 20) was also vicar of Wellington 1562-81 or later. (fn. 21) John Manning and his successor Richard Felton, rector 1606-20 or later, (fn. 22) both employed curates. (fn. 23) The few post-Reformation rectors unbeneficed elsewhere did not stay long. The exception was Richard Lane, 1635-65 or later. (fn. 24) He was succeeded by a series of pluralists. John Eyton, rector 1675-1709 and lord of the manor from 1701, was vicar of Wellington from 1689. (fn. 25) He lived at Wellington but officiated in both churches, although Eyton church was also served during his incumbency by Samuel Pritchard, rector of Preston upon the Weald Moors. (fn. 26) He was succeeded as rector by his cousin's son, Robert Eyton (1709-18), later archdeacon of Ely, who likewise held the living of Wellington from 1713. (fn. 27)
Vincent Corbet, rector 1720-50, (fn. 28) was also rector of Moreton Corbet (fn. 29) and employed curates at Eyton during his long incumbency. Richard Tourneor, mentioned as curate 1725-39, (fn. 30) was a graduate and son of a rector of Waters Upton, (fn. 31) while Richard Smith, mentioned as curate 1747- 51, (fn. 32) another young graduate, became vicar of Wellington in 1751, rector of Eyton in 1760, and first incumbent of the united living of Wellington with Eyton until his death in 1773. (fn. 33) Corbet's successor, John Fieldhouse, 1750-60, (fn. 34) also employed curates at Eyton, among them another future incumbent of the combined living. (fn. 35)
As well as burying at Wellington the inhabitants of Horton's wood also christened there in the early 17th century. (fn. 36) During the late 18th century one service was held at Eyton each Sunday (fn. 37) and in 1799 additional services were held on Christmas Day and Good Friday and communion, taken by 16 communicants, was given four times a year. (fn. 38) Use of the church increased temporarily between 1787 and 1790 when weddings for Wellington parish were held at Eyton during the demolition and rebuilding of Wellington church. (fn. 39) The frequency of services remained the same in 1824 and 1843 as in the previous century. (fn. 40) In 1871 evening services were held fortnightly in addition to the weekly Sunday morning service, and in 1888 the vestry resolved that a regular Sunday afternoon service should be instituted. (fn. 41) After the Second World War services were held once each Sunday with communion once a month given to 10-20 communicants. Preachers regularly included lay readers in addition to the rector or curate. (fn. 42)
The church of ST. CATHERINE, (fn. 43) replacing one that was so called in 1366, (fn. 44) is built of red brick with sandstone dressings and has an apsidal chancel with north vestry, nave, and west tower. Of the earlier church, demolished c. 1743, little is known except that it was notably small. (fn. 45) Some window glass, however, including an early 16thcentury depiction of St. Catherine, was reset in the later church and survives. The church of 1743, (fn. 46) also small and plain, consisted only of the nave and tower. Contemporary with it are a small west gallery, a pulpit whose sounding board is now the vestry table, and the font and font cover. The nave benches were cut down from the 18th-century oak box pews in 1902. (fn. 47) The apse and, probably, the vestry were added in 1850 and the nave roof was renewed without a ceiling in the late 19th century. The tower contains three bells of 1732 (fn. 48) and an 18th-century clock, probably that mentioned in 1770. (fn. 49)
Apart from a silver-gilt paten of c. 1340, the plate consists of 17th- and 18th-century pieces, some pewter; an almsdish bears the arms of Eyton. (fn. 50)
The church had a very small graveyard, used only from 1860, (fn. 51) until the apex of land between the road and the drive to Eyton House Farm was consecrated in 1873. (fn. 52) It was extended by the consecration of a detached plot in 1951. (fn. 53)
The register of baptisms and marriages begins in 1698. Burials are registered from 1860. (fn. 54)