St Mary Magdalene Church Croome
A church at Croome is first mentioned in 1283 and was dedicated to St James the Apostle, this church was close to the house but was demolished by George Coventry, the 6th Earl of Coventry, when he inherited the estate in 1751 and set about remodelling the house and landscape.
He commissioned Lancelot 'Capability' Brown to design the new house, together with a church and to landscape the surrounding garden and grounds. He appointed Robert Adam to design the interior of the house and the church and also to design some structures in the grounds.
The church built by some of the finest craftsmen in England including Joseph Rose, John Hobcroft and Sefferin Alken was consecrated and dedicated to St Mary Magdalene in 1763.
Set on a low hill as an "eye catcher’, the views out to the Malvern Hills on a clear day are spectacular.
Every detail has been considered, from pretty plaster mouldings to handsome carved pews, the church is a perfect fantasy of the period, with elegant Gothick windows and plasterwork, pulpit, communion rails, commandments and creed boards.
Opulent monuments brought from the old church show the former Barons and Earls of Coventry in their full glory. The earliest in black and white marble, probably by Nicholas Stone, shows the 1st Lord, who died in 1639, reclining under a canopy.
The monument to the 1st Earl, who died in 1699, is missing because the 2nd Earl disapproved of his father’s second marriage, at an advanced age, to a servant, Elizabeth Graham and so his monument is now in the nearby church of St Mary’s at Elmley Castle instead.
The Coventry family cared for the church while they lived in Croome court but when they moved to Earls Croome in 1949 the parish was too small to maintain such an outstanding building. Since 1975, St Mary’s has been cared for by The Churches Conservation Trust - the national heritage charity protecting historic churches at risk – and the church remains open for visitors, schools and community events.
Every Sunday between 2pm and 3pm the bellringers at the church perform a peal of the bells.
To celebrate the exact day of the 300th anniversary of the Baptism of ‘Capability’ Brown, Tuesday 30 August, the bell ringers will start at about 10.30am non-stop for around 3 hours.
There have only been 7 full peals rung on the bells in their 360 year history. 1889, 1970 & 1983, then four following their restoration 5 years ago.