​​Early history

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Click on any photo to enlarge

The Medieval Church

The first church at Newland was dedicated to St Michael, c1215 and rebuilt in the fifteenth century.  

When it was demolished in 1865 the chancel was rebuilt to become the mortuary chapel of the Almshouses.  

First mentioned in 1608 'Church House' served as the clergy residence until St Leonard's and the Warden's Lodge was built.
The house was demolished in 1958. 
This is the only known print of the interior of the orginal church of St Michael.  

When the church was demolished, some of the fixtures and fittings were used in St Leonard's, such as the medieval wooden roof which was used in the sacristy.

Also, the 12th century font basin was moved into St Leonard's and now sits on a magnificent marble base and plinth.

Beginnings of the Beauchamp Almshouses

renamed 'The Beauchamp Community at Newland' in 1973

At the beginning of the 1840s Charlotte, Countess Beauchamp, began working on plans for the building of Almshouses for the poor of the parish.  

Her dowry was to be set aside for this great work.  Sadly she died in 1846 at the age of 58.
 Her husband, John Reginald Pindar, 3rd Earl Beauchamp was to carry out her wishes and when he died in 1853 he bequeathed her dowry of of £60,000 (2.5 million in today's money) so that the vision of this remarkable woman could be realised.   
However, it was through the untiring work and vision of Frederick Lygon, second son of the 4th Earl, that the Almshouses and church were finally built.

Frederick, who became the 6th Earl in 1866 was a leading Tractarian (Anglo-Catholic) described as 'the ecclesiastical layman par excellence'.  

His vision for the Almhouses & Church was to be a 'Gothic Heaven' the perfect union of Frederick’s unbounded imagination, his Anglo-Catholic principles, his deep spirituality and his Victorian philanthropy.

The Foundation stone is laid

The Countess Beauchamp laid the foundation stone for the Beauchamp Almshouses on the 22nd October 1862 and these rare photographs show work underway on the Almshouses and Matron's house.

The architect of the Almshouses and St Leonard's church was P C Hardwick, who also designed Charterhouse school.

The completed Warden's Lodge with the Great Hall and Cloister to the left of the photograph.   The gardeners, in their white uniforms, are tending the grounds with an early lawnmower.
The vicarage, which was called the Warden's Lodge, nearing completion, together with the adjoining coach house and accommodation for two stable boys.

Dedication & Consecration

21 July 1864

The Revd James Skinner was the first Vicar-Warden from 1861-1877 and the driving force in having the church completed to such exceptional standards of quality.

Skinner designed the entire scheme for the famous Clayton & Bell frescoes, raising the money for their completion and also worked tirelessly to maintain the Choir School.

The Beauchamp Almshouses were dedicated and St Leonard's church consecrated on the  21 July 1864.  

Reports in the local and national press lauded the event as a triumph of Anglo-Catholic ceremonial

In particular, the ten choristers of the choir school, together with the fifteen altar boys in attendance, were given exceptional praise.   

Click to read about the Choir School
Click to read about the Altar Servers
​​Work on the famous frescoes had only just begun, with the chancel arch having been completed by Preedy and some temporary decoration applied to the east wall.   The entire decorative scheme as we see it today would soon be handed over the Clayton & Bell.

The church's Grade I listed status is due entirely to the frescoes and you may download the lavishly illustrated guide as a PDF document.

Some of the fixtures and fittings were not yet in place on the day of Consecration, such as the chancel railings and gates.

The Scots pine pulpit and choir stalls were a temporary measure and installed so the daily services could take place; they would soon be replaced with the marble pulpit and richly carved English oak choir stalls 

This rare photograph was taken on the day the church was consecrated, 21 July 1864.
Another rare photograph, taken c1876, shows work on the Clayton & Bell frescoes nearing completiong and the stone pulpit, chancel screen, railings & gates are all in place.

The English Oak choir stalls have also been fitted, as have riddle curtains to the high altar, which is flanked by the Grand Coronas.
This photograph of the Quadrangle, shows the residents in their uniforms, Matron at her house and the tower before it was rebuilt in 1882.  

The Revd George Cosby White

Second Vicar-Warden
1877 - 1897

The second Vicar-Warden, the Rev. George Cosby White was appointed in 1877.

Cosby White was a leading Anglo-Catholic, one of the founders of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament and of Hymns Ancient & Modern and chairman of their compilers.

A brilliant scholar, Cosby White was a powerhouse of a man, with a vast personal fortune and perfectly placed to consolidate and expand the work of his predecessor.

He is on the left of this 1885 photo next to his wife and on the right is his curate, the Revd Walter Boulter with his wife.
The Choir School had been closed in 1869 due to insurmountable difficulites between the Revd James Skinner and the Trustees.

The school was re-opened by Cosby White in June 1879 and  this photo was taken to celebrate the appointment of the five new choristers.  

Cosby White in the centre, together with the residents (or inmates as they were known) and the Sister's of St Margaret who provided the nursing care.


Two residents picking fruit, which was grown all around the Quadrangle in 1877.

The photograph shows the small original tower before it was rebuilt in 1882.

The sqaut tower which you see above was not considered imposing enough, so Hardwick, the architect, was commissioned to design something much more grand.

​The tower housed the water tanks which were filled from an underground well and fireplaces were set into wall, hence the chimneys, to stop the water freezing in the winter.

This photograph of what was then the rear entrance (now the front entrance) to the Almshouses was taken just after the tower was completed in 1882.

Cosby White donated his vast collection of theology and associated books to the church, together with the money to build, furnish and endow the Newland Theological Library.
The library building, was designed by C F Whitcombe,  was ultimately erected in 1910.

​He retired in 1897 after having left further exceptionally generous bequests to the church and almshouses.

The Revd Robert Wylde

Third Vicar-Warden 
1897 - 1926

The Revd Canon Robert Wylde arrived in 1897 and under his inspired leadership  the almhouses and church contined to flourish. 
Like Skinner and Cosby White before him, Wylde was a determined and brilliant man and here he is working at his desk in the study of the Warden's Lodge.   This room is now the Community office.
That Newland should have had three such intellectual giants in succession is quite extraordinary.  


Residents returning home from a church service, c1897
​​​The Quadrangle,  c1897
​​​As with his two predecessors, Wylde was passionate about the Choir School and on which he lavished considerable amounts on his person fortune.​

During his time as Vicar-Warden the Choir School attained a nationwide reputation for excellence.
​​​Canon Wylde with some of the choristers
The Quadrangle and Great Hall were the centre of community life, both for the almshouses and the village.  

The bowls team played on the Quadrangle, the Sunday school met in the Great Hall and the Newland, Madresfield and Callow End Scouts, of which all the choristers and many of the altar boys were members, held their troop meetings here each week.

The photo is from May 1915.