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HALES OWEN, SHROPSHIRE;

VICAR,

THE REV. G. BIGGS.

THE Parish of Hales Owen, which is extensive, forms a portion of the Hundred of North Bradford, although it is situated about thirteen miles from the borders of the County of Salop, and is entirely surrounded by Staffordshire and Worcestershire. The Manor and Advowson were given by King John to Peter de Rupibus, Bishop of Winchester, for a Monastery, which was founded by the Bishop, and the Manor settled upon it. King Henry III. confirmed the whole. This Abbey was situated not far from hence, the remains shew it to have been a magnificent structure. The Parish is now a Vicarage in the patronage of Lord Lyttleton; its Church, a truly venerable and interesting structure, is very spacious, and consists of a Nave, or Body, with its lateral aisles, a central Tower, containing eight bells, surmounted by a spire, and a large Chancel. The entrance at the west end of the Church, as well as that upon the south side, is by an arch in the Anglo-Norman style; over it, on the west front, is a long narrow lancet-headed window, apparently of the time of Henry II.

A great portion of the building is evidently of very early structure: the columns of the simplest form, supporting arches without mouldings, a proof of antiquity; some parts are of comparatively modern date, but the windows having pointed arches in their heads, are in a great measure deprived of their mullions, and a very few fragments of the painted glass with which they were originally adorned have been suffered to remain. The arms of Lyttleton appear in an east window, viz. Argent, a chevron, between three escallops, sable. Many of that family are here interred. Some ornaments also remain in one of the north windows.

The curious Font we have selected for illustration, is undoubtedly of very considerable antiquity, being of sufficient magnitude for immersion, the most ancient form of baptism, which prevailed until the period of the Reformation.

This very ancient Font is elevated on a broad basement, upon which, in the centre, is a circular pedestal, and four short thick columns, supporting the Bason, or Font, itself, which is octagonal, that is, having four larger and four smaller faces on its sides; the latter have been ornamented with whole-length figures boldly sculptured, which, as well as the principal, or larger sides of the font, are much mutilated, so as to render it extremely difficult for the artist to give the detail in his representation, owing to the ravages of time, and the destruction caused by

wantonness.

The columns which support the Font have capitals of similar form to those of the pillars of the Body of the Church at the west end, and upon the whole its positive antiquity cannot fail to render it an object of great curiosity, as having been formed to assist in one of the most important rites of the church in the earliest ages of Christianity in this kingdom, independent of which it must excite attention as a most interesting specimen of Anglo-Norman sculpture, a remote connexion being found to exist between the rude ornaments of that era, and the refined productions of the classical ages of Rome and Greece.

In the Chancel of this Church, within the rails before the Altar, is a mural monument to the memory of a pleasing poet and essayist, much admired in his day, which bears the following epitaph:

William Shenstone, Esq.,

Obiit 11 Feb, 1763, æt. 48.

Whoe'er thou art, with reverence tread,
These sacred mansions of the dead;
Not that the monumental bust,

Or sumptuous tomb, here guards the dust
Of rich or great: let wealth, rank, birth,
Sleep undistinguish'd in the earth:

This simple urn records a name,

Which shines with more exalted fame.

Reader, if genius, taste refined,

A native elegance of mind,

If virtue, science, manly sense,

If wit, that never gave offence,

The clearest head, the tenderest heart,

In thy esteem, e'er claimed a part-
Ah! smite thy breast, and drop a tear,
For know thy Shenstone's dust lies here,
R. G. S. and J. Hodgetts.

A. O. P.

Shenstone was interred in the Churchyard, where a slab covers his remains, from whence is a very fine view of the Leasowes, a place created by his fancy, and raised to celebrity by his genius and taste, where he long resided, but which has been much neglected since his death.

In the Chancel is also a massive marble monument, erected by Lady Jane Halliday to the memory of her deceased husband, Major Halliday, of the Leasowes; and in the Churchyard is an epitaph, written by Shenstone, upon Miss Anne Powell, of this town, a lovely young lady, who was killed by a fall from her horse.

The Parish contains, besides the Church, Chapels of Ease at Cradley and at Oldbury St. Nicholas. The Town has also a free Grammar School, endowed with lands to the amount of 250l.; the mastership is in the gift of twenty feoffees, and to be held by a graduate of one of the universities.

The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul,

LAVENHAM, SUFFOLK ;

RECTOR,

THE REVEREND WILLIAM OKES, M. A.

THE town of Lavenham, or Laneham, as it is sometimes called, is situated in Babergh Hundred, seven miles from Sudbury, on the banks of the Breton, a river which falls into the Stour, a boundary of the Counties of Suffolk and Essex. It is nearly surrounded by hills, except on the south; and on an eminence, at the west end of the town, stands the Church, generally considered the handsomest in the county; it is a Rectory in the Deanery of Sudbury, and Diocese of Norwich: the Living is now in the patronage of Caius College, Cambridge. The Rev. James Buck, the late much esteemed Rector, died 20th January, 1825, when the Rev. William Okes of Caius College, was appointed to the Living. The Rev. Frederick Croker is the Curate.

The architecture of this beautiful fabric is not entirely of one period, the Chancel being much older than the other more ornamented parts of the building, and is probably as early as Edward III. The magnificent Tower and Body of the Church were erected in the reign of Henry VII., the most fertile æra for the pious appropriation of the wealth of the country towards repairing and rebuilding ecclesiastical structures. This Church, like many others of the same period, is adorned upon the surface of the exterior with the armorial cognizances of the Founders, the Veres, Earls of Oxford, and Lords of the Manor from the Conquest; the principal part of the building was, however, erected by the munificence of the family of Spring, opulent Clothiers, who resided here for more than a century; and by means of a profitable trade, rose in prosperity sufficient to enable them to intermarry with the high born family of Vere, and became the ancestors of Sir William Spring, Baronet, of Pakenham Hall, in this County. The arms of Spring is profusely carved upon many parts of the edifice, and the mullet, or spur rowel, an heraldic badge of the Vere family, is equally conspicuous in the numerous ornamental decorations.

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