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An Iconic Building

The Parish Church

​​Did You Know St.Andrew's is the only parish church in the world with peals of bells in two towers that are both regularly rung in the English full circle tradition.   



a victorian architect who enlarged St Andrew's 

St Andrew’s Church has stood at the heart of Rugby since the 14th century. All that now remains of the earlier church is the West Tower. In 1879, the newly rebuilt church was dedicated by the Bishop of Worcester. Click here to read about past Rectors of Rugby. 

The present church was completed in 1899 with the addition of the North East Tower. The church was extensively re-built and expanded in the 19th century, designed by William Butterfield. The expanded church included a new east tower, which has a spire 182 feet (55 m) high. However some parts of the older medieval church were retained, most notably the 22 metre high west tower which bears strong resemblance to a castle turret. The west tower was probably built during the reign of Henry III (1216–1272) to serve a defensive as well as religious role, and is Rugby's oldest building. The church has other artefacts of medieval Rugby including the 13th-century parish chest, and a medieval font.

Guide to the Stained Glass Windows.

St. Andrew's is the original parish church of Rugby. Whilst few of the architectural features assist in dating, it is believed the church is of the 14th Century. The only remnant of the medieval church is the 22m tall West Tower, built in the 14th Century by Henry de Rokeby the second. The tower probably had a defensive as well as a religious role and is Rugby's oldest building. The medieval font worn and badly damaged along with a 13th Century parish chest with scrolled ironwork also survive.

Although there was a small nearby Roman settlement at Tripontium, Rugby itself emerged as an Anglo-Saxon village, called Rocheberie and is mentioned in the (Domesday Book) In 1086 there was no mention of a priest at Rugby. The first mention of a parish church, was in 1140 named St. Andrew 'Castle', but believed to have been built near Regent Place by Sir Henry de Rokeby. However, in 1157 this castle was demolished upon the order of Henry II. 1221 was the first record of a priest, Simon the Deacon, and in 1298 the church was re-dedicated to Pope Nicholas IV, possibly when the town became an independent parish.


By 1652, St. Andrew's had become badly neglected and so following complaints about its dangerous condition it was renovated and enlarged. However, following the rapid growth of Rugby's population during the 19th Century, it again became necessary to enlarge and improve the church and so the decision was made to entirely rebuild it. In 1877 Dr. Temple, Bishop of Exeter and a former headmaster of Rugby School laid the foundation stone for the new building. Over the next three years the architect William Butterfield and builders Parnell & Son were commissioned to complete the work costing over £20,000. The only part of the medieval church left was the West Tower. In 1894 the 55 metres (182 feet) tall East Tower and the spire were also added, making St. Andrew's a very unique Church due to its double towers, and much sought after by campanologists.


In 1743 the medieval font (in which Lawrence Sheriff, founder of Rugby School was baptised) was replaced and moved to the courtyard of the Eagle Hotel, where it served as a trough for the pump until being rescued by the Rugby historian Matthew Bloxam. It was taken to the Percival Guildhouse garden until the 1950's when it was finally restored to St. Andrew's. 


Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, the curate of St. Andrew's from 1908-1912 came back to Rugby to preach at his old church on 30th May 1926. He became a national hero during the First World War when he served as an army chaplain, earning himself the nickname Woodbine Willie for his habit of distributing cigarettes to soldiers. So many people came to listen that many were unable to get in.

On 19th October 1932 Rugby was declared a Borough and as the charter arrived and was presented, St Andrew's bells were rung.

Notable Rectors- read more abour John Moultrie here:


John Moultrie's son Gerard Moultrie (who was born in the Rugby Rectory) wrote the magnificent hymn 'Let all mortal flesh keep silence'


William Butterfield was born in London in 1814. His parents were strict non-conformists who ran a chemist's shop in the Strand. He was one of nine children and was educated at a local school. At the age of 16, he was apprenticed to Thomas Arber, a builder in Pimlico, who later became bankrupt. He studied architecture under E. L. Blackburne (1833–1836). From 1838 to 1839, he was an assistant to Harvey Eginton, an architect in Worcester, where he became articled. He established his own architectural practice at Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1840.



Despite his religious background, Butterfield was connected with the High Church movement called Tractarianism and his architectural style was Gothic Revival. 

Other significant Butterfield buildings include:


All Saints, Margaret Street

Keble College, Oxford

St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne


Read more here


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