These four Guides have been assembled and edited by Canon Brian Davis, Priest in Charge of the Gaulby Group since October 2013 - please contact him if you find any mistakes or inaccuracies  (revbdavis@aol.com)


The church of ST. MICHAEL AND ALL ANGELS stands to the west of the village street and consists of chancel, clerestoried nave, south aisle, south porch, and west tower.


The oldest surviving features of the church are of the late 13th century but the font may have belonged to an earlier building- it has a round bowl with traces of incised interlacing circles and a triangular stem with angle shafts terminating in carved masks.


The tower is of three stages, the belfry stage having paired lancets (slender pointed arched windows) as bell openings, of the late 13th century. The chancel is of the same date or a little later. The windows have Geometrical tracery mostly renewed, and attached shafts to the internal jambs.


SEDILIA (seats for the priests  - usually three - on the South side of the chancel, near the altar) and Piscina (basin for washing Communion vessels, with drain)   both Fourteenth Century. The moulded arches of the piscina and sedilia are supported on similar shafts.

The chancel arch and the south arcade of three bays are probably 14th century, but the outer walls of the south aisle appear to have been rebuilt a century later when Perpendicular windows were inserted.


The south porch was originally of the same date. In the late 15th or early 16th century the nave walls were raised and a clerestory added. The line of the earlier roof is visible above the tower arch. At the same time two tall transomed windows were inserted in the lower part of the north wall. The head of one of these contains a device in contemporary stained glass. In the thickness of the wall to the east of the windows is a rood-loft stair having square-headed openings at both levels.


The building was heavily restored by Goddards of Leicester in 1866–7 when the whole church was re-roofed, a castellated parapet was added to the tower, and the south porch appears to have been rebuilt.  The walls were scraped (all the old plaster removed) - probably during this  restoration. The pulpit and seating also apparently date from this restoration. In 1902 further alterations were made, including the installation of an organ by Taylors of Leicester in memory of E. F. Baillie and the renewal of several windows.  The opening of the north chancel window, which had been blocked,  is probably of this date.  



1) a fine East window by Clayton & Bell, 'Christ in Glory'  in memory of Mary, wife of John King of Stretton Hall,

2) to the North of the altar is the  modern Advent window in memory of   Vanessa Lloyd-Davies MBE (Mil) commissioned and donated to Illston Church by her mother Elizabeth Lloyd-Davies. It depicts the birth of Christ, Angels and Shepherds, Star and Wise Men, and the Flight into Egypt. You will also find a Dove and Cross, St Martin giving his cloak to a beggar, St Andrew,  St Michael and St George.  The four shields refer to Vanessa's life: Oxford University, The Royal Medical Corps, Household Cavalry and King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery.  High in the window you will see a horse and rider galloping across fields - Vanessa was a passionate horsewoman. The window was designed and created by stained glass artist, Caroline Swash.

3) on the South side of the chancel, at the East end,  a window made by a firm of German glaziers, Mayor of Munich,  depicting the Annunciation. Notice how the Angel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary have immaculate (permed?) hair-dos!

4) at the West end of the chancel is a very fine Kempe window (1902) depicting the appearance of Jesus after his Resurrection to Mary Magadalene, in memory of E. F. Baillie. Kempe's windows were always of the highest quality.


ROOD LOFT STAIRS  near the pulpit in the North wall. Most Rood Screens were  destroyed in the 16th and 17th Centuries by the Puritans. The Rood Screens, often elaborately carved, with Crucifix above, and statues of St Mary and St John,  divided the people's part of the church (nave and aisles) from the chancel where only the Priest and servers were allowed.


VICTORIAN PULPIT  - with a  fine carving of St Michael destroying the devil. (The church is dedicated to St Michael and all Angels). 

The church contains large painted boards, now in the aisle, bearing the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments, and a list of local charities.

ROYAL ARMS  above the Chancel arch are of  King George III - 1777. This is its original position, though in many churches the royal arms have been removed to a less prominent position. It was Queen Elizabeth I who first instructed that her Coat of Arms should  be placed prominently in every church - to remind everyone that as Queen she was the ultimate authority and 'Supreme Governor' of the Church of England! In the eighteenth century putting up the Royal Arms was a sign of loyalty to the Hanovarian dynasty.

By the tower entrance is an interesting wooden step ladder, probably originally used to light and replenish the oil lamps that formerly hung in the nave and aisles.

OUTSIDE THE CHURCH  on its south wall there are the remains of two primitive sundials (probably Mass Dials - used by the Priest to indicate when there was to be the next Mass) and directly outside the porch towards the road boundary is the stump of a medieval preaching cross, now scheduled as an ancient monument.

Memorials in the church include slabs to John and Elizabeth Needham (d. 1689 and 1639 respectively), to John Needham (d. 1689), and to Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Needham (d. 1758). There are mural tablets in memory of Mary, wife of Edward Needham (d. 1732), and of Henrietta Sophia Butler of Ashlands (d. 1935).

There are six bells: (i) and (ii) c. 1600; (iii) 1641; (iv), (v), and (vi) 1946, as a thanksgiving for victory in the Second World War. In 1932 the first three were re-hung and no. (ii) was recast. 

The plate consists of a very good cup and paten of 1758 and a dish and flagon of 1759, all given by Sir Arthur Hazlerigg in 1759 and still kept in their original oak box.  

The registers date from 1653 with a gap in the entries of marriages from 1751 to 1756.


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