Fortunately for us, some 19th century Birmingham architects took a great interest in historic churches and noted features which were revealed during restoration but were subsequently concealed or completely removed. Amongst these architects, Jethro Cossins particularly stands out. He visited Warwickshire churches between 1850 and 1890, in some cases before or actually during restoration (and he is often rather critical of other architects’ restoration work!). His observations are contained in five volumes of handwritten notebooks (MS 3414/1-5) which also contain drawings, including architectural details, and photographs.
The church of St Peter and St Paul church in Aston is a grand building near Aston Hall and Villa Park. A priest here is mentioned in Domesday Book and the church itself is first mentioned in the 12th century. The church was almost wholly rebuilt and substantially enlarged in the 19th century, leaving only the 15th century tower of the earlier church. Jethro Cossins’s notebooks include a description and ground plan that he made when he visited the church in 1850, before restoration took place (Vol I, p57). The subsequent restoration exposed a Norman doorway (p58). Cossins’s notes and drawings supplement the 18th century illustrations of Warwickshire churches in the better-known Aylesford collection.
Mike is giving a talk about his research on 5 March at “News from the Past”, an event organised by the Council for British Archaeology. For details and a booking form please click on the link below: http://www.archaeologyuk.org/cbawm/downloads/NewsFromThePast2016.pdf