St Mary the Virgin

The ancient village of Bromfield grew up at the confluence of the Rivers Onny and Teme, with the church and the priory situated on the narrow neck of land between the rivers. There was a church as early as 900AD, and the Benedictine Priory was founded in 1155 and survived until the dissolution by Henry VIII. Little remains now except for the beautifully restored gatehouse adjacent to the church of St Mary the Virgin.

The oldest parts of the church are the remnants of the 11th century building, which can be seen in the arches on the north, and east sides of the chancel, but much of the church dates from 16th and 17th centuries, and a major restoration took place in 1889-1890. The nave was probably part of the church in monastic times and its oak roof dates from 1577, though was concealed beneath plaster until the 19th century restoration. The original tower was probably in the centre of the church. The present tower dates from the 12th century. The chancel was painted in 1672 but the ceiling is all that remains, showing biblical texts. Richard Herbert of Oakly Park financed this work. The church clock is a memorial to Queen Victoria who, as a small girl, visited Oakly Park, the home of the Earls of Plymouth. Inside the church is a memorial to an underrated man, Henry Hill Hickman (1800-1830). He was born close by, at Lady Halton, the seventh of 13 children. He spent much of his short working life researching into anaesthetics for painless surgery, the earliest known pioneer of anaesthetics by inhalation. He became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons at 21. Others claimed the discovery about 20 years later. In 1930, belated recognition came with the memorial tablet in the church.

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