Having spent more years than I care to count staring at the plain walls of non-conformist churches (yes, I was that distractible), it was disappointing to discover that Oldbury-on-Severn Parish Church is in much the same mould – plain walls, minimal stained glass, pitch pine pews, and a memorial to the fallen of the Great War. Only the painted organ pipes hint at allegiance to a more decorative (or decadent?) tradition.
Turns out it was rebuilt in 1897 following a disastrous fire which left only the north porch and tower of the original church standing. The exterior of the new building is pleasing, however, being very much in the Arts and Crafts tradition with massive buttresses bolstering its position on top of the man-made tump which is possibly a burial mound.
Certainly, the circular churchyard indicates that this is pre-Christian holy site. It’s also believed to be the eventual burying place of the bones of a local Saxon saint, Arilda, who, according to Leland, was 'martired at Kineton ny Thornberye by one Muncius a tiraunt, who cut off hir heade becawse she would not consent to lye with him'. The church is dedicated to her.
In the surviving ancient porch there is a scattering of faint Crusader crosses. Far harder to miss is the view over table top tombs and the Severn flood plain to the old bridge. And the local nuclear power plant.
And the lovely, starry daffodils blooming all over the tump. As is their wont.