THE BCH ARCHIVE
LOCAL HISTORY FOR
And The Surrounding District
Magnificent Medieval Stained Glass Fragments at Birtsmorton Church
The exquisite glass fragments originate from around 1400 AD. They are the remains of a donor window given to the Church by Eliabeth Ruyhall, widow of Richard Ruyhall of Birtsmorton Court.
Richard is depicted on his knees praying to the Virgin Mary to intercede for him.
Because his position as lawyer to the Earls of Warwick involved him in many dodgy deals he hopes that prayers and a donation of a window might lessen his time in purgatory.
This particular image is the only proof that the Italio- German hinged klappvisier ever reached England. This is a type of visor which opens and closes on a single hinge, located centrally over the brow.
Some very unusual iconography of the Christ child baptising St Christopher. The beautiful stained glass survived the reformation, and many centuries thereafter, until a Victorial vicar, Rev R Pilson, had it removed because he felt it to be too idolatrous.
Thankfully some fragments made their way to the Court next door and were returned to the Church in the 1940s by the then owner Francis Bradley-Birt, who is buried in the churchyard with a distinctive triangular grave-stone.
The Rev Pilson masterminded a campaign to raise mony to repair the roof andbuilding and prevented it from falling into disuse.
Down the centuries there have always been strong connections between the Church and the family who live in Birtsmorton Court.
Particularly the Nanfan family.
Inside the Church there are two notable tombs - the Nanfan tomb, dating from the fifteenth century. It is decorated with carvings and traces of brightly coloured paint which would have been used all over it originally.
we believe this to be the tomb of Jane, Lady Houghton, widow of the first Sir John Nanfan.
She went on to be marry and be widowed twide more. The carvings on the tomb commemorate her three husbands and children. One of whome became the Bishop of Lichfield, Chester, Coventry and finally Exeter.
In the Sanctuary we have the ornate marble tomb of Sir Willian Caldwell, Rear Admiral of the Red Squadron in the Baltic Sea. This is a marble stature of his full length figure reclining and surrounded by the navigational tools of his trade.
He was the second of four husbands of Catherine, Countess of Bellomont, daughter of Bridges Nanfan.
She married Richard Coote, first Earl of Bellomont and later Governor of New York when she was only 15 years old. Her marriage to Admiral William took place 22 years later in 1702. He died at Birtsmorton Court in 17198. She married Samuel Pytts in 1720 and a finally William Bridgen im 1737 months before her death in 1738 aged 73.