Ashford Carbonell: St Mary Magdalene, SY8 4DA
St Mary Magdalene Church has been a place of worship for over 800 years. The church dates back to Norman times; inside, the chancel arch and the deeply set narrow windows in both the nave and chancel, together with the massive font, remain from that time.
The original church was smaller, but by 1300 A.D it had been extended to its present size.
In the centuries following, larger windows in the nave and chancel transformed what must have been a rather dark interior. An oak belfry was added in the 15th century and inside a gallery seating 25 people at the west end in the 18th century. The parish chest to the right of the altar also probably dates from this time.
In 1882-3 there was an extensive programme of restoration. In the chancel the lovely and unusual arrangements of windows above the altar including a Vesica window, was restored to its original form.
In the nave, oak benches with carved ends, each different, replaced the box pews and the old doors were placed around the walls; a carved oak pulpit was installed and the gallery removed.
The20th century saw the construction of an organ loft and the organ replaced the harmonium. The bells-two of them from the 14th century and one from the 17th century, were restored and rehung and, to celebrate the Millennium, the lighting and heating were improved and the vestry was curtained and refurbished (although a loop system is planned we are at the moment in the throws of fund raising for the roof!)
As you approach the church you will see a number of yew trees which are older than the church itself, which suggests there may have been an earlier structure on the site either Saxon or even pre-Christian .
In addition to the main south door, there is a priest’s door to the chancel, which dates from the later 12th century, with fine moulding at its head. There is also a blocked doorway on the north side, only slightly later in date, dog toothed carvings mouldings around the outside arch (which we had hoped to lead into a small room /toilets/ vestry, this was shelved as the doorway was too narrow and externally it would have disturbed the ancient yew tree roots!)
At the west end, the lancet window has two medieval sculptured heads.
The Church of Ashford Carbonel is now one of a group of 7 churches to the South and East of Ludlow in the care of a team Vicar (Kelvin Price). A congregation of around 20 worship regularly, more at festival times and for special services especially the monthly Family Service when the congregation rises to 30 with 15 or more children .We celebrate Holy Communion three times a month, the 2nd Sunday is a lay lead Matins service, we also have a strong link with the school –Bishop Hooper C of E Primary school in the village.