St Mary the Virgin

A romantic church that stands alone, shorn of its former medieval village, looking out across the Capability Brown landscape of 1760’s toward Fawsley Hall, the seat of the Knightley family and now a country hotel.

About this church

The church predates the Tudor Hall by perhaps two centuries but owes its distinction to the Knightley family who improved it from the 16th to the 20th century. Crossing the field you find the church separated from its landscape by a HaHa crossed by the tiniest of bridges to the tiniest of doors.

Stepping in you enter a wonderfully light open space with a broad nave leading to a handsome chancel, the sort of view familiar to anyone who admires John Sell Cotman’s watercolours.

Here you will find clear glass windows set with 16th and 17th century Flemish roundels and Knightley heraldic glass arranged in the early 19th century. The hall itself originally contained some of the best 16th century English domestic stained glass in the country.

In the east window of the north aisle is the famous glass of the Washington family consisting of six heraldic shields depicting the family’s coat of arms: these are quartered with the families into which they married. The glass, brought from the nearby manor of Sulgrave in 1830, is of particular interest to historians, and especially Americans, because it clearly shows the Washington coat of arms upon which the American flag, the Stars and Stripes, is undoubtedly based.

Littering the church are tombs and monuments to the family. The most spectacular is that of Sir Richard Knightley (d1534) and his wife by Richard Parker of Nottingham. It retains its original paintwork over its alabaster base. Note the procession of sons and daughters along its sides.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Magnificent memorials
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Fascinating churchyard

Visitors information

  • Level access to the main areas
  • On street parking at church
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets nearby
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Space to secure your bike

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St Mary the Virgin

It will be primarily the late 19th and 20th century stained glass that will draw you to this small medieval church at the centre of this handsome ironstone village.

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