An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Buckinghamshire, Volume 2, North. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1913.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
191. SHENLEY CHURCH END.
(O.S. 6 in. xiv. N.E.)
(1). Parish Church of St. Mary, stands in the village. It is built of rubble with small stones; the quoins and old buttresses are of squared stones. The roofs are covered with lead, except those of the transepts, which are tiled. A cruciform church was built on the site in the middle of the 12th century, the present Transepts and probably part of the walling of the Nave being of that date; c. 1180 the Chancel was re-built to its present dimensions and vaulted in two bays, and a vestry was added to it on the N. side; about the same time or a little later a narrow South Aisle was built, with the present S. arcade; in 1340–50 the S. aisle was widened, the North Aisle and N. arcade were built, openings were pierced in the W. walls of the transepts, and the clearstorey was probably added. In the 15th century, the Central Tower either fell or was taken down, and the present tower was built on a larger scale late in the same century, when the N. vestry was demolished. Late in the 16th century the walls of the chancel and nave were apparently heightened, and the roofs were made flat. Early in the 17th century the aisles were heightened and re-roofed. The South Porch was built possibly in 1637, the date appearing in the roof. The church was restored in 1888–90. The North Vestry and apparently the gables of the transepts are modern, and the S. wall of the S. porch has been re-built. The parapet of the chancel was re-built in 1911.
The development of the plan in this church is especially interesting. The late 12th-century windows and other details in the chancel are noteworthy.
The Chancel (23½ ft. by 14½ ft.) has an E. window of late 15th-century date (fn. 1), and of five cinque-foiled lights under a four-centred head, and a moulded external label with carved head-stops, all much restored; the rear arch is of small moulded stones, re-used, from the ribs of the destroyed vaulting of the chancel. In the N. wall are two windows; the eastern is a pointed single light of late 12th-century date, with recessed jambs; each jamb has two detached internal shafts and one external shaft, all with moulded bases and capitals carved with enriched water-leaf ornament of slightly varying designs; the internal shafts have moulded bands at half their height, and the internal label, which is moulded and enriched with a form of indented ornament, is carried westward as a string-course to the point at which it was originally stopped by the vaulting; externally the moulded label is also carried along the wall as a string-course, part of it being visible in the vestry; near the bottom of the external W. jamb a groove is cut which probably marks the roof-line of the destroyed vestry: the western window, now opening into the vestry, is of late 15th-century date and of three trefoiled lights in a four-centred head, with a label on the N. side; the W. jamb is cut into by the stair-turret of the tower: between the windows, and now opening into the modern vestry, is a late 12th-century doorway with moulded jambs and semi-circular head, and, on the S. side, a moulded label with foliated stops. In the S. wall are two late 12th-century windows; the eastern is similar to the window of the same date in the N. wall, but externally the jamb-shafts have moulded bands and more elaborately carved capitals; the head is richly moulded, and the external label is carried along the wall as a string-course; the second window differs externally from the first only in the moulding of the head, but internally the inner jamb-shaft is attached and the moulding is continued without a capital round the inner order of the rear arch; the outer order of the rear arch is carved with lozenge-shaped sunk panels; the internal label has elaborate dog-tooth ornament and is returned at the ends; at the W. end of the wall is a low-side window of one uncusped pointed light; it was inserted probably in the 15th century, before the rebuilding of the tower, as a buttress cuts into it: between the first and second windows is a priest's doorway of late 14th or early 15th-century date, with moulded jambs and semi-circular head and an external label. Near the middle of each side wall is a carved vaulting-corbel of late 12th-century date, which has a central foliated capital with a square abacus, a keeled shaft stopped on a moulded and foliated boss, and on each side a smaller foliated capital with a square abacus. Below the internal sills of the N. and S. windows, is a roll string-course of late 12th-century date, stopped on each side of the E. window, and broken by the rear arch of the low-side window; the S. wall and the E. end of the N. wall have similar external string-courses, which return round the buttresses at the E. angles. The Central Tower (14 ft. square) is of three stages, with shallow buttresses at the angles; the S.E. angle is also strengthened by a large diagonal buttress; the embattled parapet has been restored; the N.E. stair-turret has a deep moulded plinth, visible in the modern vestry, and cut into by the modern doorway of the staircase. The ground stage of the tower has four late 15th-century arches, two-centred, and of three chamfered orders; the piers are splayed and have moulded plinths and capitals; on the E. side of the E. arch the jambs are cut back below the capitals to give more room in the chancel and to avoid blocking the S. low-side window. The N. and S. walls of the second stage have each a late 15th-century window of three uncusped lights under a four-centred head with a plain label, the middle light only being glazed; on the E. and W. walls are the weatherings of the former steep-pitched roofs of the chancel and nave. The bell-chamber has, in each wall, a late 15th-century window of two uncusped lights under a four-centred head with an external label. The North Transept (12 ft. by 11 ft.) has, in the E. wall, opening into the vestry, a modern doorway, above which is a small mid 12th-century window with a semi-circular head, the external jambs and head being chamfered probably at a later date. In the N. wall is a 14th-century window of two cinque-foiled lights and tracery in a pointed head, with a plain label which has mask-stops; the external stonework has been much restored; below the window are two modern lights. In the W. wall, opening into the N. aisle, is a 14th-century arch, two-centred and of two chamfered orders; the N. respond is semi-octagonal; the capital is hidden by the floor of the organ-loft, and the base is moulded; the S. respond was destroyed when the tower was re-built. In the S.E. corner is a 15th-century doorway with a four-centred arch in a square head, formerly opening into the stair-turret of the tower, and now blocked. The South Transept (12 ft. by 10 ft.) has, in the E. wall, a mid 12th-century window with rebated jambs and semi-circular head, now blocked. In the S. wall is a window of c. 1300 and of two trefoiled lights, with a quatrefoil in a pointed head, which has a label with mask-stops. In the W. wall, opening into the S. aisle, is an arch similar to that in the N. transept; on the N. side it rests on a 14th-century moulded corbel, formerly the capital of a shaft; on the S. side is a semi-octagonal respond with a re-cut moulded capital and base. Externally, a moulded string-course is carried round the walls at the level of the windowsills. The Nave (39½ ft. by 17½ ft.) has an embattled parapet. The N. and S. arcades are of four bays, the easternmost bay on each side being cut into by the tower. The N. arcade, of mid 14th-century date, has two-centred arches of two chamfered orders; the octagonal pillars, partly re-cut and restored, and the semi-octagonal W. respond have moulded capitals and bases. The late 12th-century S. arcade has two-centred arches of two square orders, with a label on the S. side having indented ornament; the opening of the easternmost bay is wider than that of the N. arcade, as the buttress of the tower is not continued below the springing line of the arch; the circular columns, restored and re-cut, and the semi-circular W. respond have much restored moulded bases and coarsely-cut capitals with square chamfered abaci. The clearstorey has, on each side, three windows of mid 14th-century date, much restored; those in the N. wall are each of two trefoiled lights under a square head, and those in the S. wall each of two trefoiled ogee lights and tracery in a two-centred head. The late 14th-century W. doorway has jambs and two-centred head of two moulded orders; the jambs are almost entirely modern, and the moulded label has modern head-stops. The 15th-century W. window has been much restored; it is of five cinque-foiled lights under a four-centred head and a label with head-stops. The North Aisle (7½ ft. wide) has, in the N. wall, three 14th-century windows, restored, each of two trefoiled ogee lights and tracery in a pointed head, with an external label; the label of the easternmost window has head-stops, that of the second grotesque animal-stops, and that of the third has only one carved stop, but has a carved finial; between the second and third windows is a mid 14th-century doorway, now blocked; the jambs and pointed head are moulded, and the moulded label has head-stops. In the W. wall is a modern window. The South Aisle (7½ ft. wide) has, in the S. wall, three 14th-century windows; the easternmost, slightly restored, is of two trefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head; the label is modern, but has old head-stops; the other windows are similar to the N. windows of the N. aisle, one being repaired with cement: between the second and third windows is a modern doorway. In the W. wall is a modern window. The South Porch has side walls possibly of the 17th century, each with a small loop light, the head of that in the E. wall being apparently a fragment of an older window. The 16th-century Roof of the chancel is of flat pitch, with moulded ridge, purlins, wall-plates, and principals, curved wall-brackets, and intermediate rafters. The N. aisle has a flat lean-to roof, with chamfered purlin and main rafters and a wall-plate inscribed with initials and the date 1630, all now restored. In the roof of the S. porch is a timber dated 1637, re-used in modern work.
Fittings—Bells: six, 6th inscribed 'Missi De Celis Abeo Nomen Amen Gabrelis', probably by Robert Burford, early 15th-century. Brasses and Indents—Brass: In chancel—S. of altar, of Thomas Thurleby, rector of the parish, 1432, black-letter inscription in Latin, with indent of figure above it. Indent: In chancel—N. of altar, of a man's figure and inscription, probably 15th or 16th-century. Communion Table: In S. transept—modern, except four turned legs, and top rail with guilloche ornament, 17th-century. Font: octagonal bowl with trefoiled panel in each face, plain base, all of limestone, 15th-century. Lockers: In chancel—low down in E. end of S. wall and in N. wall, two, rebated for doors. In S. transept—in S. wall, similar to those in chancel. Monuments: In chancel—on N. side, (1) to Edmund Ashfyld, knight, 1577, and Eleanor his wife, black and white marble sarcophagus, in recess, flanked by marble Corinthian columns supporting a broken pediment; inscription and coloured achievement with arms of Ashfield and alliances. In N. aisle—near W. end of N. wall, (2) of Thomas Stafford of 'Tatenho', 1607, large monument (see Plate, p. 43), with alabaster recumbent effigy of man in late 16th-century armour and ruff; on base, in front, kneeling figures in half relief, of wife, four sons, three holding skulls, and three daughters, one holding a skull; above effigy, mural panel with inscription, flanked by pilasters and surmounted by two shields, and a cartouche containing achievement of arms of Stafford of Tattenhoe, quartering Hastang, Burdett and Aylesbury; over the sons four shields of Stafford, over the daughters three shields, Bernard, Thakeston and Savage, each impaling Stafford; all the shields incorrectly re-coloured. Piscina: In chancel—said to have been taken from N. vestry, with double opening, having trefoiled heads and chamfered mullion, in E. opening shallow circular basin, probably 14th-century; projecting part of basin modern. Pulpit: with carved round-headed panels, some 17th-century, others modern. Sedilia: In chancel—in S. wall, with moulded jambs and segmental arch, stone seat, with edge roll moulding, divided by low stone arm with attached shaft having moulded capital, 13th-century, arch and part of jambs restored, recess formerly contained monument now in N. aisle. Miscellanea: In chancel—in sill of low-side window, richly carved stone, late 12th-century, probably a boss from chancel vault. In S. transept—built into N.E. corner, richly carved capital, late 12th-century. In N. aisle—loose, three carved fragments of stone, 12th-century and later date. S. transept—scratched on S. angles, traces of two sundials. In tower—in N. window of second stage, shutter.
Condition—Good, but the N. arcade leans outwards.
(2). The Toot (Moated Mound), with large Moated Enclosures adjoining, 500 yards S.W. of the church, about 320 ft. above O.D. The mound is 60 ft. in diameter at the summit and about 120 ft. at the base, and its height is 13 ft. N. and E. of it are the remains of two larger moated enclosures, apparently of later date: the principal enclosure on the N. is well preserved on the W. side, where the moat has a broad retaining bank; on the S. it is separated from the moat of the mound by a strong rampart; there are traces of foundations in the W. half of this enclosure; the E. enclosure is of inferior strength. The area of the whole work, including defences, is about 7 acres. The ditch surrounding the mound contains water; the other moats are dry.
Condition—Of mound, good; of rest of work, imperfect.
(3). Almshouse, forming six tenements, 200 yards S. of the church, is of two storeys, the upper storey partly in the roof, and is built of stone. The roofs are tiled. The house is of rectangular plan, with gabled ends and a gable in the middle of the front. It was built in 1654, as recorded by an inscription on a carved stone panel in the middle gable:—'The Almshouse was caused to be erected by Thomas Stafford of Tatenho, Esq., deceased, and was built by Thomas Stafford, Esq., his son, Anno Domini 1654.' The building has been repaired, and at the back is a low modern addition. At each end is a projecting chimney stack with a single square shaft, and there are two other stacks each with two square shafts, all of thin bricks.
(4). Farmhouse (see Plate, p. 257), now two tenements, 120 yards S. of the church, is of two storeys, built of timber and brick in the middle of the 17th century, and partly repaired with modern brick. The roofs are tiled. The plan is L-shaped, the wings extending towards the N. and E. In the W. wall one of the windows has an original oak frame; the central chimney stack is of old thin bricks.
Interior:—On the ground floor the ceilings have chamfered beams, and there is a large fireplace with a cambered lintel of oak. The old oak staircase in the E. wing has, on the first floor, a few 17th-century flat balusters.
These buildings are of two storeys, with walls of timber and brick; all, except (5), have thatched roofs, and all have old chimney stacks.
(5). Post Office, on the W. side of the road leading to Watling Street, 100 yards E. of the church. It was built in the 17th century. The roof is covered with corrugated iron.
(6). Cottage, on the E. side of the road, 140 yards N.E. of the church. It was built probably early in the 17th century, and has old mullioned windows in front and at the N. end.
(7). Cottage, 30 yards N. of (6), was built probably late in the 17th century, but has been much restored.
(8). Folly Farm, about 1 mile W.S.W. of the church. The house was built in the 17th century, and has been partly restored with modern brick. The plan is L-shaped. The central chimney stack is square, with a projecting nib on each side.