St Andrew’s Church is open daily from early morning until late afternoon. Visitors may, by appointment, climb the 104 steps to the top of the tower to gain extensive views of the surrounding countryside, and to the Priest’s Room above the Chantry Chapel. As well as regular services of worship, the church is also used for concerts and exhibitions. The names of the minister and churchwardens are displayed in the church porch.
St Andrew’s Church is a decorated enlargement of an Early English cruciform church, of which the north wall, north transept (now the Chantry Chapel) and south wall of the south transept still remain and are clearly distinguishable by their rougher 13th century masonry.
The extensive alterations, which were started in 1361, took about 15 years to complete and consisted of removing the south transept, building the south aisle and the Lady Chapel, lengthening the Chancel and constructing the great tower and spire.
The Exterior – Many interesting features of the Early English church can be seen from the outside:
· To the east of the porch is the Chantry Chapel with its 2 circular headed windows
· Above the Chantry Chapel is the Priest’s chamber/School room. This room is lit by a window in the north wall which has 2 early pointed but transomed lights with a quatrefoil over them, forming a piece of plate tracery. On the east and west sides there are square headed windows.
· On the north east corner is an angle fireplace
· On the north west corner there is a small chamber with a ventilation flue corresponding with the fireplace flue. Similar ventilated closets of the same date exist in the western buttresses of Westminster Hall.
· In the north wall of the Chancel are the buttresses and lancet window of the Early English church.
· The magnificent slender spire, with graceful flying buttresses at its base and 181 feet high, is an outstanding feature of the landscape for miles around.
1. The Nave – is separated from the south aisle by 3 arches. The roof was expertly restored in 1911. The nave has 2 decorated windows which replaced the lancet windows in the north wall of the Early English church to match those of the south aisle. The large north door is from the original church. In the north wall, under a low arch, is a tomb believed to be that of Isabella, first wife of Sir Richard Stafford, who died c 1356.
2. The Chantry Chapel – is the north transept of the original Early English church and is a beautiful example of late 13th century work and probably has few rivals. The ground floor has a groined roof and opening into the nave is a steeply pointed arch. In the east wall is an arched recess for the altar in which traces of paintings still exist and over this recess is a small lancet window. In the north and west walls are 2 five-lighted circular headed windows with unusual detail. Above the chapel is a priest’s chamber reached by a spiral staircase. This was used as a school room for several years from 1755; about 30 boys and girls attended the school.
3. The Chancel – at the entrance to the Chancel is a beautiful Rood Screen. All signs of the Rood Loft have disappeared but the holes in the wall which held the beam can still be seen. High in the north wall there is a small window to let light fall on the Rood. The original doors of the screen are lost but were replaced by two fine Caroline doors bearing the inscription ‘Master Gilbert, Parson of Clifton in the year of our Lord 1634’. At the rear of the choir stalls are seven 15th century misericords with carved heads and foliage. The marble monuments to Sir Charles, Sir Richard and Revd Sir Robert Pye, Lords of the Manor from 1701 to 1734, were carved by John Rysbrach, a Dutch sculptor who settled in England in 1720.
4. The Lady Chapel – of the four parclose screens surrounding the Lady Chapel two, and possibly three, are original. The 4th is a beautiful example of Caroline work containing features almost unique in the style of that period. It is the same date as the Rood Screen doors and bears the inscription ‘HG 1634’. This Chapel was the original Chantry founded in 1361 by Rector Hugh Hopwas. A fine alabaster Tudor tomb stands in the middle of the Lady Chapel with an inscription to Sir John Vernon of Harlaston and Ellen his wife (1545). In the Sanctuary there is a brass effigy of a cross-legged knight, probably engraved at the end of the 13th century. Beside the doors in the south screen is a very old church chest, made from a solid trunk.
5. The South Aisle – in the wall of the South Aisle, the part which formed the end of the south transept of the Early English church, is a low arch similar to that in the nave. This was recorded by Shaw as containing the tomb of the founder of the later church, Sir Richard Stafford, who died in 1381. The mediaeval wall painting, depicting the Coronation of the Virgin, was uncovered in 1933 by Professor Tristram, who dates it as the first part of the 14th century – well before Sir Richard’s death.
6. The Tower and Spire – were the last to be built. The 3 outside walls of the tower are pierced by large windows of beautiful tracery and a high arch opens out into the nave. In effect the whole structure is standing on four great pillars. There are 6 bells in the belfry; the last bell installed, the little bell (treble) bears the inscription ‘This bell was given by Alwyn Dunn 1969’. Due to the delicate structure of the tower it is not possible to ring the bells but when they were restored in 1970 a chiming apparatus was installed.
There have been many famous rectors of Clifton Campville, the most illustrious of whom was John Stafford (1413-23), Archbishop of Canterbury from 1443-52. A list of Rectors is displayed on the wall by the north door, together with a genealogical tree of both the Church and the Manor.
The information used has mainly been gleaned from ‘History of Staffordshire’ by Shaw published in 1798.