ST JOHN THE BAPTIST
Postcode:SY9 5FD . Parking on the road or next to the adjacent Church Barn.
Disabled access. Toilets(including disabled) in the Church Barn. Open daylight hours.
St John’s church was built towards the end of the C13th to serve a mediaeval
planted town controlled by the Bishops of Hereford.
Only the tower remains of that church, which was completely re-built in 1869-60 by Thomas Nicholson.
The present building in the Victorian Gothic style is spacious and well-proportioned.
Interesting features are a some fine stained glass windows including (in the side chapel) two windows in the Pre-Raphaelite style, one by Henry Holiday, a simple C12th font, and a sculptured C17th bust which may be of Gervase Needham, a vicar who was ejected from the living during the Civil War.
In 2010 seventeen coffins – occupied by members of the Oakeley family - were discovered in a crypt beneath the Chancel.
The churchyard has a number of interesting graves including two with connections to Napoleonic prisoners-of- war, and one to ‘A Native of Africa’ who died here in 1801 and who may once have been a slave. The churchyard is very well kept, and is part of ‘Caring for God’s Acre’.
The tower houses a peal of six bells which have recently been restored and are rung every Sunday. There is a church choir.
The Sunday Morning Family services enjoy a regular attendance of 40 -50, and the church has an active life with numerous social functions, including fine Choral Concerts by the local Marches Community Choir. The patronal festival in June will be celebrated with a Midsummer Rejoicing: A Flower Festival Sat./Sun. 24/25 June 2017, and Rushbearing Procession and Service on theSunday (25th).
The church also hosts art exhibitions, and there is an annual Craft Fair in December in connection with Bishop’s Castle Christmas Lights Festival.
There is an active Mothers’ Union, Social Committee, and monthly Messy Church.
Bishop’s Castle Open Gardens, in aid of the church, takes place every two years (Sunday 18th June 2017) for the Historic Churches Trust . Visitors are warmly welcomed at all times.
A new book The Story of Bishop’s Castle (published by Logaston Press, November 2016) contains a chapter on the history of the Church and Non- Conformist Chapels in the town.
The Church plays an important part in the life of this lively community.
A Caring for God's Acre church. For more information on the conservation work of this organisation, visit their website at http://www.caringforgodsacre.co.uk.