St Michael’s church is the focal point of Bishops Itchington. It is a Grade 2 listed church built in 1872 by Ewan Christian in a C14th gothic style. In 1980 a community room was added to the north side of the church.
It wasn’t always like this, though. The original village of Lower Itchington was laid waste in the C16th and the land turned into farmland surrounding the mansion house that then formed the basis for a new village. The chapel attached to this mansion house became the church for those who worked in service, while the landowners rode by horse to nearby Chesterton. As the village grew, the church was enlarged in Victorian times, so nothing of the original chapel remains today, save some old gravestones in the closed churchyard.
The village gets its name from the Itchen river that runs below it, and the land was once owned by the Bishops of Lichfield, and there is still a canon of Lichfield Cathedral who is a designated link to the church.
The church is widely used by the village community for a variety of purposes as well as for weekly worship, and retention of the church building is a high priority in the current village parish plan.
Over the past 10 years work has been done to make the building more ‘flexible’; including replacing the pews with chairs. The building is now a valuable resource for the community and has been the venue for many events including:
- young people’s art and drama clubs
- art exhibitions
- men’s social events
- meetings of the Mother and Toddler group
- village play schemes
- lunch and afternoon tea clubs for elderly residents
- the annual act of Remembrance
- village New Year’s Eve parties
- the village Scouts carol service
- Christmas Tree and flower festivals
- Scout and Cub sleepovers
- village and regional committees
- bell-ringing teams
The Parish Council uses the attached church hall for its regular monthly meetings and occasional public meetings and the village school makes use of the building for celebration services and individual classes come up to the church regularly to complete work as part of their RE lessons.
In 2010, with the help of a generous grant from English Heritage, the church tower was restored, along with repairs to the chancel arch and vestry, and a drainage system was dug (we think for the first time!!) As a result of this project, completed early in 2011, the church has become even more active, with a new bell-ringing team and wider opportunities to open the building for the village.
We held a weekend flower festival in September 2011 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, and a number of village groups provided imaginative flower arrangements based on their favourite Bible stories or verses. We celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations with a designated “beacon” and in 2014 have hosted various events surrounding the HOPE14 deanery mission, with a follow-up gathering with comedian Paul Kerensa at Christmas 2014.
We are deeply grateful to English Heritage for their support, and praise God for His provision.