The greater thickness of masonry in the lower part of west wall suggests that this survives from an earlier church. This may also apply to the south wall of the chancel, since it is thicker than the nave wall. Otherwise, as already noted, the nave and chancel walls are probably 17th century and the two western trusses of the fine tie-beam roof are likely to be of the same date.
The oak communion table is dated 1844 and bears the initials TD CP JW, though the wrought-iron communion rail appears to be mid-Georgian. The present pitch-pine pews were added in the 1905 restoration and oak panels from the earlier box pews can be seen in the chancel, around the east end of the church. The small vestry was also added; previously the north-east corner of the chancel had been used for this purpose.
There are only three memorials inside the church. Two commemorate those who served in the two World Wars. An unusual feature of that for the 1939/45 war, unique in Shropshire, is the name of one of the ‘Bevin Boys’, men aged between 18 and 25 who were conscripted to work in coal mines. The third is to Samuel Munslow of Far (Upper) Darnford who, in his will of 13th March 1847, bequeathed £10 to be invested, 'The interest to be given annually on St Thomas's Day ... to the poorest and most deserving widows and orphans belonging to the parish'. The plain octagonal font came from Hanwood church. The building is now heated electrically, but previously there was a coal-fired stove at the west end of the church which had been obtained from Windsor Castle and this, in turn, replaced a stove in the south-east corner of the chancel.
|East window and reredos by James Powell & Sons|
The glass, in the style of the Arts and Crafts Movement, was provided by James Powell & Sonsof Whitefriars, London, one of the main suppliers of ecclesiastical glass for well over a century. Other examples of Powell windows in the region are at Bishop’s Castle (1892) and All Saints, Shrewsbury (1906).
The three-light east window is a memorial to John Charles Addyes Scott, Mahlah’s husband,and his parents Robert and Sarah It portrays the incident in the temple at Jerusalem (Luke, 2, 41-50); Jesus, then twelve years old, is depicted in the centre light 'in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions'. Peering over a wall are an anxious Joseph and Mary. The artist was Frank Mann, a senior designer with Powell & Sons, and it cost £116, including a site visit, wire guard and fixing.
The window in the south wall of the chancel, a conventional 'Virgin and Child', is in memory of Scott's two daughters, Mary Laetitia and Elizabeth Ann (Annie), and one in the south wall of the nave, depicting the Good Shepherd (John, 10, 11-18), is dedicated to Mahlah's parents and her brothers and sisters. These were standard windows designed by E. Penwarden and cost £25 each. They could be reversed and if desired have a portrait of a local personage; it was not unknown for Christ to have the face of the late vicar! Could Mary’s face be Mahlah, perhaps? Other examples of these windows are to be found at Hampton-in-Arden, Warwickshire (Virgin and Child) and Wolverton, Northamptonshire (Good Shepherd). The inscription on the Good Shepherd window is:
Sacred. In affectionate memory of Jesse Homer of Birfield Wors who died AD 1886 and Hannah his wife who died AD 1878 and of their children. This window is placed by their daughter Mahlah Addyes-Scott Oct AD 1905.
"Birfield Wors" doubtless refers to Burfield Cottages or Burfield Road, a little street running along the side of the Talbot Hotel, now renamed the ‘Chain Maker’, in Colley Gate, Cradley, Worcestershire. Jesse Homer had one of the numerous back-yard nail-making workshops for which Cradley was noted. Tradition has it that John Charles, when delivering iron in the area, heard Mahlah singing as she worked in her father’s nail forge; a question of love at first sound, perhaps?! The outcome was that John Charles and Mahlah were married on 1st July 1863. The other windows have clear glass with simple Arts and Crafts ornament.
Mahlah Scott placed the order for the windows on 1 August 1905. She may well have visited Powell’s factory in London to discuss the design of the east window and select the others from standard patterns, since she lived at 6 Cambridge Gate, Regent’s Park, at the time. The windows were shipped by the London & North Western Railway to Pontesbury station.
The reredos panel under the east window, also by Powell, is of particular interest, since it is a good example of a technique developed by the firm. It is described as ‘pot metal, gold and pearl background, with an Irish green marble cross, the whole in an alabaster frame’ and it cost £28. Most of it is made of recycled glass known as ‘opus sectile’ (cut work). The technique was invented by a Powell employee about 1863 as a means of using clear glass that had been contaminated by clay or other impurities during manufacture. This material was finely ground and placed on a metal plate. A layer of coloured ground glass was added, with another plate on top. The assemblage was compacted in a kiln without melting, to produce material with an eggshell or mother-of-pearl finish and it took several years of trial and error to produce a marketable product. This process, now known as sintering, is sensitive to the size of grains, temperature, pressure and other factors, so Powell’s success in producing the material is remarkable.