Cosgrove Church Tower

The tower arch in the church is partly blocked, but has a hagioscope to the ringing room and an 18th century door to the Porch, with exposed original stonework and a small tower door.

The tower itself appears to be late medieval, and is aligned on the Nave, but its east arch may consist of Anglo Saxon masonry reworked in the 13th century. There is a mixture of late Curvilinear and Perpendicular tracery in the stonework. There are 84 steps up a circular stone staircase to the roof, with its flagpole and 18th century weathercock.

The Tower was repointed in 1936 and reroofed in 1958. The PCC borrowed £1000 from the diocese again in 1974 for more repairs. In the early 21st century the roof suffered thefts of lead.

Click on an area of the drawing to view
more infomation about the tower

Weather VaneTower stairsTower entranceEmpty ChamberBell LoftChurch ClockSquint HoleBellringers

The 14th century Church Tower is 70 feet high. From the top you can see up to four counties of England. It has been partially destroyed by fire, rebuilt, re-planned and parts have been moved and altered.

West Door of the Tower
Clock above the West Door
Drawing by George Clarke April 1st 1845
(no clock)


Of four stages, c. 1400. Diagonal western buttresses and set-back eastern buttresses. Embattled parapet and turret in .the south-east corner with ridged stone pyramid roof. Weathervane and gilded weathercock, possibly mediaeval. West doorway with double wave-moulded continuous outer and inner surround, framing a deep hollow chamfer and hoodmould with decayed label-stops. Its door is late C19, double-leaf, with fine ornamental hinges. Three-light west window with C19 Perpendicular tracery, two-light Decorated ringing-chamber window above. Belfry windows of two-lights, divided horizontally by transoms, and with cinquefoil heads and quatrefoil in tracery.

Drawings by June Moonan

Cosgrove Church Steeple

In “Manno’s Manor” by Bryan Dunleavy, published in 2013 by Magic Flute Publications, the first illustration is from John Hassell’s “Tour of the Grand Junction Canal”, a collection of engravings published in 1819.

The canal bridge from Wolverton in 1819

Tour of the Grand Junction Canal - John Hassell
"Passing Stonebridge House, by a very pleasant road, shaded with an abundance of lofty trees, we come to the village of Wolverton.  The country here had burst upon us with peculiar beauty; the scenery on our right presented the navigation passing in long lines away to Cosgrove, which terminates in a succession of woods, towering above each other, with the seat of Major Mansel to the left, and Cosgrove church a little more to the right.  The Grand Junction is here carried across the valley by an embankment originally built upon arches, but bursting its course a wooden trough was afterwards substituted, through which the barges were conveyed to either part of the canal.  This trough has given way to one made of cast iron."

This is a view from what is now a new housing estate at Llewellyn Chase, across the canal at Old Wolverton. The building on the left is the Galleon Pub, once called the Locomotive, with the canal bridge in the foreground. There was apparently a winding hole (bottom right), and above this appears Cosgrove Hall. To the centre right is Cosgrove Church, replete with “Steepol”!

Interestingly the only other old drawing we have of the Church is this drawing done on April 25 1852, by George Clarke, showing the Tower without a steeple, contradicting the accounts, unless “steeple” had by then become a local name for the tower itself.

From 1707 to 1757 we come across references in the churchwardens’ accounts to Cosgrove Church having had a steeple. We believed at first that this was an idiomatic name covering the tower. However, in the following references appears an interesting picture:

1707 The Disburstments of Rob Rand and Willm Turvey Churchwardens for the Year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seven

Spent on the ringers and Other people for helping unload the Great Bell and for drawing her up into the Steepol   8s

The Disburstmnts of William Jarvis and William Cook Churchwardns for the year 1716 as followeth

pd to John Arther for sweeping the Steeple   6d

The disburstments of William Scott and Samuell Durrant Churchwardens of Cosgrave for the year 1734

for a Lock for the Steeple door   6d

The Disburstments of Samuell Durrant and William Turvey Churchwardens of Cosgrave for the year 1737

p for a Lock for the Steepl door   1s 6d

The Disburstmnt of Samuell Durrant Churchwarden for the year 1739

p Walker and Branson for pointing the Steeple   £4  18s

spent at Shreeve when the Steeple was done   4s

p Joseph Roberds for work and Iron about the Church and Steeple   18s 10d

for the use of my Burkitts and beesoms at the Steeple   1s

p for drinks at Medlys when the Steeple was done   3s 4d

John Archer for ale when the Steeple was pointed for our own drinking and the workmen  9s 2d

P William Gervise for work and other things which he provided about the pointing of the Steeple   £2 18s 9d

The Disburstments of Joseph Roberts & Thomas Shaw from Ester 1754 to Ester 1755 Churchwardens of the parish of Cosgrove for the above year 

pd for 2 Locks for the dors at the botom and top of the Steeple   4s 6d

The Disburstments of Joseph Roberts and John Rye Churchwardens of Cosgrove for the year 1757

payd Edward Jons [Jones] stopping up the Steeple windows   4s 6d

payd for wood for the windows in the Steeple  1s

Tower Restoration

An appeal fund was launched in December 1991 to raise money for urgently needed repairs to the stonework of Cosgrove Church Tower. The total cost of repairs was estimated in 1992 at £54,000.

This figure was arrived at after the Church was inspected by English Heritage, when a grant to repair Tower masonry was applied for. They required additional work on some internal masonry and to the leaded windows. Bond and Read, Architects, were commissioned to authorise work to begin with Bowman (Oxon) Ltd, building contractors, on 12th May 1992, the church having raised £46,000 in grants and donations.

Old Mail July 1992

Our great news this month is that any minute now passers by will see the scaffolding going up on the Church Tower. This doesn’t mean that we have reached our target but that, having passed our deadline in May, there was a possibility that English Heritage might transfer our award to another project or that the estimated cost might be increased. The PCC made the decision that the contract should be signed and the work commenced while we carry on our fundraising programme to bridge the gap of approximately £10,000.

Old Mail September 1992

Passers by will have noted already that already, behind the scaffolding, the restored Tower is taking shape as Darren and Mark work upon it day by day and stone by stone. Last month the weathervane was dismantled and is now awaiting attention.

BUT – Who shot the weathercock? There are three bullet holes in his tail, probably 303s. Is there a story and will anyone tell us in the next issue of the Old Mail?

[Nobody did]

When the restored weathercock arrived back in Cosgrove in 1992, Mabel Houghton put it on the floor and made all the Sunday School children jump over it, so that they could tell their grandchildren in years to come, “See that Weathercock on the Tower? I’ve jumped over that!”

Old Mail October 1992

The first layer of scaffolding has been removed and the turret is ready to receive the re-gilded weathervane in due course. The clock, which continues to strike the hour, will soon have a clean face to shine from the hole in the west face of the Tower.

Donations and promises have now reached the £50000 mark. Unfortunately the stonemasons have discovered that some of the stone is in worse condition than they anticipated and the total cost is now likely to be £60,000. And so we toil on for the other £10,000!

Old Mail December 1992

It’s down! Not the Tower, just the scaffolding. The Clock has been painted, repaired and replace, and the Weathervane glitters in the sunshine. The windows on the south side and the replaced stone in the buttresses do look very “new” but no doubt they will weather and blend in with the older stone.

Thanks to the concentrated effort of everyone and the wonderful support received from within and without the village the work on the Tower will be completed and our share of the original target (£34,000) reached by the end of this month – just one year since the parish meeting was called to launch the appeal – on 2nd December 1991. In addition, English Heritage are gradually making their promised 40% contribution to the total cost of £54,000 [not including the additional £6,000 now needed].

Following the completion of the work the invoice that arrived was a complete shock to Derek Houghton, the Church Treasurer, when it transpired that the additional costs came to far more than the £6,000 declared. Hasty negotiations took place, but the additions, grant revisions and payments rumbled on. The final invoices appear to have been settled in autumn of 1993.

What did they do?

The stonework and other repairs included

Providing and fitting       108 Buttress quoins

16 weathering stones

86 feet of string course stonework

Brushing down 500 square metres of stonework

Repairing the west bellchamber window and lower west window

Repairing Bellchamber east window tracery

Extra rebuilding of the south eastern buttress

Extra repointing

Removing two bees’ nests

Filling the gap round the Aisle west window

Rebuilding top of stair turret  and repair to carved head

Lead cloaking to lower west window

Rebuilding top of north west corner

New parapet stones and walling

New window hood stones and hood stop stones

New south Aisle coping stone

Replacing 46 poor stones set in putlog holes

Repairing window louvres