"The parish church, St Giles, is thought to date back to the 12th century, the most recent update being in 1862. Parish records held at the church date back to 1538. At one time the church served the settlement of Chesterton which existed around it. This settlement disappeared as a result of the inhabitants moving away to Chesterton Green, after receiving a visit from that most unwelcome of itinerants, the plague. The parish also includes the agricultural area of Kingston. Local rumour has it that tunnels connect the church to nearby Humble Bee cottages. It is not known why."
A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 5 (1949)
The parish church of ST. GILES stands in an isolated position on rising ground about 1½ miles south-east of the Fosse Way and 11/8 miles north-east of the Banbury-Warwick main road.
It is a low and peculiarly long and narrow edifice consisting of a chancel and nave without a structural division, south porch, and a squat west tower.
The earliest feature is the south doorway of the nave, c. 1310–20, but it is possible that the thick north wall incorporates some of the original 12th-century nave, although there are no details of that period. From the easterly positions of the north and south doorways it is probable that the nave was subsequently lengthened about 10 ft., perhaps late in the 14th century, when the north wall was buttressed and provided with new windows.
The chancel was added or rebuilt c. 1330. It was made slightly narrower than the nave; whether it had a chancel arch or not is uncertain. It is of three bays: there is some distortion in the plan of the easternmost bay, which is widened outwards against the east wall and has an unpierced north wall thicker than the remainder; this suggests also a lengthening, probably of the same late-14th-century period. The roof is of late-15th-century date and for some reason, probably weakness, the south wall of the nave had to be entirely rebuilt to carry it. New and larger windows were made, but the early-14th-century south doorway was saved and provided with a porch. The west tower is an addition or rebuilding of c. 1600. There have been modern restorations, the most thorough being carried out in 1862.
The chancel (about 36 ft. by 16½ ft.) has a modern east window of three lights and tracery. In each side wall are two windows of c. 1330, each of two trefoiled pointed lights and a quatrefoiled spandrel in a twocentred head with an external hood-mould with headstops. The two south windows retain their original moulded jambs and arches, including moulded edges to the internal splays, all with three-quarter hollows. The coeval priests' doorway has finely moulded jambs and two-centred head and hood-mould, all of rather weather-worn Hornton stone. The walls are of small coursed and squared rubble work. The east wall has a low-pitched gable with pinnacles over the apex and kneelers. The north wall has one original small buttress, probably marking the original east end, and two deep ashlar-faced buttresses of later date, one between the windows and one at the east end. The south wall has a diagonal buttress at the east end, which is built against the south wall instead of being placed equally on the angle.
Near the east end of the south wall inside is a modern triangular recess and sill in the normal place for a piscina: it has been fitted with the cinquefoiled ogee canopied head of a 14th-century image niche with a ribbed vaulted soffit and crocket enrichment.
There is no chancel arch, but there are slight setbacks in the side-walls from the wider nave.
The nave (49 ft. by 17 ft.) has two late-14th-century north windows in the east half, each of three trefoiled lights and tracery in a four-centred head: the eastern has vertical tracery and the western reticulated tracery; both have old hood-moulds. The north doorway, west of them, is a plain 14th-century doorway with chamfered jambs and pointed head: it has a hood-mould with returned stops. It is now walled up, with a War Memorial set in the recess.
The north wall is of rubble work and has deep buttresses dividing it into three unequal bays, the widest middle bay containing the western window and doorway. West of the doorway there is a change in the texture of the masonry and many larger stones are included. The buttresses form a narrow unpierced western bay, indicating the later lengthening. At the west end is a massive wide buttress, probably altered when the tower was added. All the buttresses are patched with brickwork. The wall is about 3 ft. thick.
The thinner south wall is ashlar-faced externally and has a moulded plinth. In it are three wide late-15thcentury windows, each of three plain four-centred lights under a square head with sunk spandrels and a moulded label. The buttresses, smaller than those on the north side, forming two equal bays east of the porch are of the same period. The westernmost and a little of the nave wall are of the smaller masonry of the west tower. The south doorway, between the middle and western windows, is of c. 1310–20. It has moulded jambs and pointed head, of which the middle hollow is enriched with ball-flowers connected by wavy running stems.
The roof is of low pitch and extends without break over the chancel and nave. It is of nine bays with nine trusses, including one against the tower. The beam over the break between the nave and chancel is chamfered and has remains of painted twisted ornament on the west face. The trusses over the nave have moulded beams and stiffeners on moulded solid brackets and wall-posts on which are cut small shafts with capitals and bases. They all rest on plain stone corbels. The three trusses over the chancel are modern copies. The parapets are embattled.
The low tower (12¼ ft. square), of the 16th or early 17th century, is of two stages with walls of coursed and squared small rough ashlar, with a chamfered plinth and embattled parapet. At the west angles of the lower stage are diagonal buttresses. A former round-headed doorway from the nave is now hidden by a monument. The west and south walls have narrow windows with three-centred heads and below the west is a modern doorway. The bell-chamber is lighted in the north, south, and west walls by windows, each of two segmental-headed lights under a square head.
Reset in the south wall of the nave above the porch is part of a 15th-century reredos. It has three niches, divided by V-shaped pilasters with crocketed finials, and three-sided canopy heads with crocketed gablets. In these are three figures of men wearing gowns and long mantles and bowing to the east, the easternmost lower than the others, and all apparently offering gifts. Their heads have been destroyed. They may represent the three Magi or three worshipping saints. They are set in a square recess with a moulded frame which includes a space east of the figures (not a niche like the others).
The porch is of masonry similar to the south wall of the nave and has a four-centred entrance in the gabled south wall. The unpierced side walls have stone benches. Above the entrance is a 17th-or 18th-century sundial with an inscription: 'See and be gone about your business.'
Below the east splay of the south-east nave window is a 15th-century piscina with moulded jambs, having chamfered stops, and a trefoiled ogee head. The projection of the sill with a hexagonal bowl is cut away.
In the tracery head of the north-east window of the nave are some fragments of 15th-century white and yellow stained glass, chiefly tabernacle work.
The font has a 13th-century tapering round bowl with a moulded top edge, on a moulded base which has been raised on another stone and has had its lower edge chamfered. The two ancient staple-rings are still used with an iron cross-bar to lock down the modern flat cover if required.
There are three memorials at the west end of the nave to members of the Peyto family. The earliest against the south wall is to 'Humfrey Peyto', died 30 March 1585, and Anne (Fielding) his wife , date not filled in. It has their recumbent alabaster effigies, the man in armour of the period, his head resting on a helmet: at his feet is a lion. The woman is richly dressed and wears a ruff and a long chain or necklace crossing many times on her breast. A small dog rests on the foot of her skirt. Both have their hands in prayer holding Testaments. The base is divided into panels by engaged twisted pilasters and has eight shields of arms of Peyto and other quarterings, including two in circlets inscribed with the motto manv domini mvnitvs svm. One has supporters of two nude men. The inscription is in raised 'black letter' around the top moulding. On the wall above the tomb are two wide recesses; one with the figures of six sons, the second a child in grave-clothes, the third and fifth in civilian dress, and the other three in armour. The other has four daughters. Above them are their names 'John, John, Basill, William, Richard, & Humphrey' and 'Goodeth, Ann, Dorothy, and Margery' and their blazoned shields of arms. The fourth and sixth sons have impaled coats and the daughters' arms are impaled by others.
Against the north wall is the monument of William Peyto, 1619, and Eleanor (Aston) his wife, 1636, with their white marble busts on a pedestal set within a round-headed recess that is flanked by pilasters below a small curved pediment. This is surmounted by a larger pediment on which is an achievement of the Peyto arms. This monument was executed by Nicholas Stone in 1639 at a cost of £150. (fn. 120)
The west monument is to Edward Peyto 1643 and Elizabeth (Newton) his wife. Their white marble busts are set on a pedestal flanked by shafts of dark marble with white Corinthian capitals and bases supporting an entablature and pediment with an achievement of arms. In the floor is an inscribed slab to Edward Peyto 1658.
There are three bells of 1705 by A. Rudhall.
The registers date from 1538.