The Parish Church of St. Pandionia and St. John the Baptist

© Copyright mym and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Eltisley’s parish church is the Church of St Pandionia and St John the Baptist.

According to legend Pandionia was the daughter of a Scottish king and fled to avoid an arranged marriage. She came to Eltisley, where a kinswoman of hers was Prioress of the nunnery, and lived as a nun and eventually as Prioress for the rest of her life.

When she died (ca. 940) she was buried by a well near the church. It was at this well that she is said to have appeared in a vision to some children, an event that led to her canonisation. In 1344 her remains were translated to the church and buried under the high altar.

The well was destroyed in the 1570’s by the eccentric rector Robert Palmer. Thus far the sites of the well and the nunnery remain undiscovered.

The church was built about 1200 and consists of a nave of 3 bays with aisles. As with many rural churches in poor areas much of it was built of field stones brought by the local inhabitants. Later that century the North Chapel was built. It contains effigies of a knight and a lady. Both effigies are badly defaced (Rector Palmer again!) The north west corner of the chapel collapsed and was repaired in the 19th century.

The simple font by the south door is thought to be original.

The medieval west tower is topped by a slightly later octagonal spire to a height of 135 feet. There are four bells which unfortunately cannot be pealed due to the condition of their mountings.

In the 1870’s the architect George Vialls was commissioned to produce a report on the condition of the church and to make recommendations for its repair.

In 2013 a toilet and a small kitchen were built in the bottom of the tower to make the church more practical for social functions. While the work was being carried out five previously unknown graves were discovered.