Welcome to St Alkmund's Church
You may not have heard of our Patron Saint. "Alkmund" is a Saxon name and means "Temple Protector". He was one of the sons of King Alhred of Northumbria. The succession was disputed by a usurper, Eardwulf, who killed Alkmund's father and brother, and then Alkmund, in 800 AD. In his short life Alkmund gained a reputation for everyday acts of kindness to the poor and orphaned. After his death Alkmund's body became the object of intense devotion. His murder came to be seen as little short of martyrdom. He was recognised as a saint after prayers for healing addressed to God through him were answered. Alkmund's relics, originally kept at Lilleshall, were moved to Derby in 1140. His stone coffin is now in Derby Museum. Alkmund is the patron saint of the city of Derby and of six parish churches in Derbyshire, Aymestrey in Herefordshire, Blyborough in Lincolnshire, Shrewsbury and Whitchurch here in Shropshire.
When the church was built in 1713 all the windows had clear glass. Apart, that is, from the two crosses in one of the North aisle windows, made up of medevil glass retrieved from the old church. During the reign of Queen Victoria, 1837 - 1901, the taste for stained glass grew and parishioners set about filling the church windows with colour. At the top of the central window in the South aisle Joseph greets his father on his arrival in Egypt. In the bottom panel Jacob is on his deathbed, blessing all his sons. Note the pyramid, palm tree, camel and heiroglyphics and read Genesis 29 - 50. The three windows in the Apse above the high altar were paid for by public subscription in 1858. The central window depicts the Ascension: Jesus ascends into heaven, leaving his disciples below him and received by angels above him. The main figure in the left hand window is St Peter carrying a bunch of keys (Matthew 16:19); the main figure in the right hand window is St Paul with a sword (whose pen was mightier than any sword).
Dating from the 1920's, the four figures that decorate the top of the reredos around the altar or holy table are (on the left): St Chad, the first Bishop of Lichfield, and St Alban, the first British Christian martyr, and (on the right): St George, England's Patron Saint, and an Angel bearing sword and scales. The altar, or holy table, reminds us of Christ's sacrificial death on a cross on Good Friday and the meal he shared with his disciples the night before he died, on Maundy Thursday. The Gospels call this meal the Last Supper and Christians gather together every week to remember and celebrate this meal, calling it Communion or Eucharistor Mass. We believe that it symbolises Christ's presence amongst us. During the celebration bread and wine are blessed and shared. Coloured fabric altar frontals mark the seasons of the Christian Year. The green frontal was made by church people to mark the Millennium.
Lord John Talbot, First Earl of Shrewsbury, was born at Blakemere, just outside Whitchurch, in 1373. A fine Soldier, described by Shakespear as 'the scourge of France' in Henry Vl Part One, he died at Castillon after the battle of Bordeaux in 1453. His heart, which was embalmed separately, was brought home and placed under the church porch. His bones followed fifty years later. His stone effigy was rescued from the old church and his conopied tomb restored in 1874, when his bones were found to have been individually wrapped in a strong box three feet long rather than in a coffin.
The alabaster figure behind the organ is of Sir John Talbot, Doctor of Divinity, Rector of Whitchurch in the 1540's and descendant of Lord John Talbot. On his death he endowed a school and Whitchurch's Technology College still bears his name.
Following the quinquennial inspection in 2012, a programme of essential repairs had been prepared by the PCC. These include external stonework, repairs to the porch where it is pulling away from the main church building, repairs to the steps outside the north porch (NW corner) where the steps are cracking and the boiler-rooom below them is becoming seriously dilapidated.