Oswestry, Shropshire – St Oswald

We spent the last week of September 2021 on holiday in Wales, and on Wednesday 29 we crossed the border and went to Oswestry. Julie enjoyed Booka Bookshop, and then we went to St Oswald’s church. The last time I came here was for a job interview in 2008 – the world could have been very different if I’d got that! It was good to find the church open, and they have a website – https://www.stoswaldsoswestry.org.uk/church-history/.

In 642 Oswald, King of Northumbria, was killed by Penda, King of Mercia – tradition has it that he died on the spot where the church now stands. Domesday mentions a church here,  and a title deed of the same year (1086) refers to St Oswald’s. There were various periods of border wars in the C13 and a great deal of destruction during the Civil War. There was a major restoration between 1872 and 1874, under the architect G.E. Street – it certainly feels a Victorian church. The tower is impressive too.

I love the door of 1692 – that’s the way of making sure your time as Warden is remembered.

There is a lovely font of 1672, which is said to have been a gift from Colonel Lloyd, the Governor of Oswestry Castle, as a thank-offering for the restoration to the throne of King Charles II.  Street added a second (which I didn’t photo). If I’d been Vicar I’d have said one was enough!

On the wall of the Lady Chapel is a rather stunning Triptych, Moses and Aaron on Mount Sinai, standing either side of the Ten Commandments. It is said to predate 1730 and may have been the reredos from the C17 rebuild of the church, after the Civil War. It was the reredos behind the High Altar until the Street re-ordering when it was removed and stored in the tower. You wonder if it was placed there en route to the tip, but never got there, or whether someone thought they’d put it back once the architect had gone back to London! It was restored and placed here in 2004.

On the north side of the Nave is the Yale Memorial. There is a tablet which reads “Underneath are interred the remains of Margaret the wife of David Yale Esq., daughter and Heiress of Edward Maurice of Cae Mor, Gent. She departed this life the 20th day of December 1754, aged 66. Also lie the remains of David Yale Esq. who dyed Jan. 29th 1763, aged 81.” There is another inscription which is almost illegible but apparently says “In memory of Mr Hugh Yale alderman of this town and Dorothy his wife, daughter of Roger Roden Esq., of Burton in the county of Denbigh whose bodies are interred in ye chancel of theis Church commonly called St Mary’s before its demolition in the late wars, anno 1616. They gave to ye poor of this town the yearly interest and benefice of one hundred pounds to continue for ever, besides other good acts of charity.” A later Yale is the chap who founded the American University.

There’s a rather nice War Memorial in the St George’s Chapel.

There is a lot of Victorian stained glass, including this Last Supper and this Ascension. The Millennium Window is by Jane Grey – we have Oswald and his tree, and a lot of different symbols – see www.stoswaldsoswestry.org.uk/church-history/architecture-features/the-millennium-window/

I wonder how I would have felt if I had got this building – would I have fallen in love with the building? I’m not sure!

We had a walk round and found a War memorial garden. A memorial to those who worked for the Cambrian Railway, their HQ was in the town, and a memorial to Wilfred Owen – he was born in the town on 18 March 1893.

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