Upper and Lower Quinton
The Church of St Swithin’s was built first in the 12th century and added to, like so many of the churches in the region over the 13, 14th and 15th centuries. It’s built of what they call sandstone rubble, with ashlar or trimmed stone details. It was repaired extensively in Victorian times and it contains some interesting features.
There is a plain chest tomb with the effigy of a knight in plate armour, believed to be in memory of Sir William Clopton who died early in the 15th century, and another chest tomb in the south isle with panelled sides and a marble top with a brass inset depicting Joan Clopton who died in 1430.
There is some medieval glass in the windows and some interesting old pews. It is, as we have already discovered, in need of some TLC and I am sure the vicar will be successful in her fundraising efforts.
So why am I feeling so uneasy?
Of course, my unease about these lovely villages of upper and lower Quinton could stem from something quite separate from the church.
The first thing that you notice in the centre of Lower Quinton is that the architecture has changed. Here we see wood-framed buildings in black and white and used as we are to the sandstone buildings of the Cotswolds it is clear we have taken a big stride towards Stratford on Avon, famously the source of the greatest tales of conspiracy and intrigue in the English language.
The Quintons are as enveloped in myths and legends as any village we have visited so far.
The hill, on the lower slopes of which Upper Quinton is to be found, is called Meon Hill. Evans tells us how sad he is that the villages lie just outside his remit and describes “the wonderful western slopes of Meon whose praises I am never tired of singing”
Legend has it, however, that Meon was created by the devil himself. It is said that he was watching from Ilmington Hill as Evesham Abbey was being constructed, and he was so cross he kicked a huge divot of earth in order to bury it. Bishop Ecguuine saw it coming and using the power of prayer brought it prematurely to the ground, forming Meon Hill.
As before mentioned there is a prehistoric encampment in the summit, and a footpath that leads you round the waist of the hill, from which wonderful views of the vale are to be seen.Perhaps the most gruesome of all the stories associated with Meon hill concerns the murder of an agricultural labourer, one Charles Walton, who was found, on Valentines day 1945 with his throat slashed by his own billhook, with which he had been trimming hedgerows, and pinned to the ground by the neck with his pitchfork. So violent was the attack that in no time rumours of witchcraft and rituals started to spread. Scotland Yard was called in and the most celebrated detective of his time “Fabian of the Yard” took over the case.
Despite the distinguished detective’s involvement however, the case was never solved. He had his suspicions but could prove nothing.
We may re-visit this story another time because Ross has a penchant for sinister tales and here we have only scratched the surface of the chequered history of Meon Hill. We would be following in distinguished media footsteps as the BBC nationwide program came here in the 70s to investigate, but I hear tell that when they went to the local pub in Lower Quinton to interview the locals the place suddenly and for no apparent reason, emptied of customers and no one would speak to them.
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Historic Hamlet on The Monarchs Way
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