History of St. Matthew's Church Coates

Photo of St. Matthew's Church Coates


The name Cotes does not appear in any records until mention of a family bearing the name' de Cotes' in 1201. 
In the Doomsday Survey (1086), however, there were three separate manors called Achelie anc the manors of Tursberie (Trewsbury), Hunlafesed (Hullasey), and Tomentone (Tarlton) in the area now comprising the Parish of Coates or Cotes. 
The origin of the word Coates may be that the Achelie manors, known by 1235 as Coates manors, were sheep clearing farms. Around 1360 mention is made of 'Villa de Coter' and in the 15th century we find 'Cotteswolde' and it has been suggested that this is the derivation of the modem Cotswold. If this conjecture be correct then we have an interesting connection between the parish and the famous district in which it is situated. 


The Achelie or Cotes manors remained separate until all three were acquired by Sir William Nottingham between 1466 and 1483. The largest of these three manors lay to the west end of the parish and the Manor House stood close to the Church, and what remains is now known as Church Farm. In the time of Sir Robert Atkyns, Lord of the Manor (c.1700) it must have been a very large house, and there is a tradition that there is an underground passage leading from it to the Church and also one to Hayley Wood.
The house known as Coates Manor was built by William Tombs, Lord of the Manor, at the end of the 18th century, and almost rebuilt in about 1921. The House, known since 1950 as Bledisloe Lodge, is back in private hands having once been owned by the Royal Agricultural College.   

The Tower 
Moving round, you will note the good perpendicular arch, with interesting piers, at the entrance from the Nave to the Tower. There is a Tudor door leading to the tower steps (note the Tudor roses). Also hanging in the tower is a Royal Coat of Arms dated 1837. 

Coming back into the Knave, the organ makes a very notable feature. This was made in 1894, and originally fitted into the Chancel Alcove before being moved to its current position in 1950. This move led to the screening off of the Chantry Chapel, which became the Vestry. 

The Vestry is normally kept locked so it is unfortunate that you may not be able to see inside, however because a Piscina of about the 14th century has been disclosed in the east wall of the Vestry, it shows that this Transept was in fact a Chantry Chapel. This Chapel also contains a good 13th century Tomb Recess and an early English doorway. The Chantry is said to have been built by the Nottingham family, although the tomb itself is no longer there. 

The Nave 
The rounded piers and responds, with low pointed arches, have water-holding bases which point to the date c. 1220. The Chandelier at the east end of the Nave is surmounted by a Dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit. It is likely to have been made in Birmingham about 1825. 

The oak lectern is a feature of the nave, having been carved in 1897, a time when much work was being done to the interior of St Matthews. 

At the entrance to the Chancel the restored screen contains some elements of the 15th century woodwork and has an interesting design. A Corbel nearby may indicate the position of the Rood Loft. 

The Chancel 
In the south wall of the Chancel there is an interesting early English priest's doorway of narrow dimensions, and in the north wall is an undecorated Norman arch now revealed by the removal of the organ from the Chancel. 

The stained glass window at the east end of the Chancel was made by Lavers, Barrand and Westlake in London in 1876, and the Reredos (the tiles below the window), by James Powel! 

Floor plan of St. Matthew's Church Coates


Thameshead Benefice logo




Photo © Elaine Kemp

Powered by Church Edit