Carlton Church is first mentioned in 1206, when Gerinus
de Leigh held the right to appoint the priest. By that time the church
had already been standing for 250 years.
The building was begun around 950, and originally
consisted of a nave with a short chancel. By 1100 the west tower had been
added. Evidence of the Saxon origin of the church can be seen in the exterior
of the north wall of the chancel and lower windows in the tower.
In 1275 the south aisle was built, and in 1310 the
north aisle and doorway were added. In 1330 the chancel was lengthened
and the south chapel built. This chapel was later taken down and the windows
re-used in the east wall of the south aisle and the south wall of the
chancel, where the blocked up arch is visible. At this time also a chamber
with a lean-to roof was built at the south-west corner against the tower
and the wall of the south aisle. This was probably a priest's house and
the remains of a chimney can be seen at first floor level outside.
The 15th century saw more alterations to the church.
A half-arch was made in the north arcade near the organ. This may have
been a 'squint' allowing a better view from the north aisle. The clerestory
was added, and also at this time the belfry stage of the tower was rebuilt.
Diagonal buttresses were added and the spiral staircase inserted in the
north-west corner. The present porch was rebuilt and replaces one that
was a little to the east. The rood screen, also 15th century,would have
supported a loft. The loft has been destroyed, but the chuch building
as we see it now was complete.
Later centuries have seen changes only in furniture
and fittings.Most of the nave pews were installed in the 16th century
and the pulpit is 17th century, but on a modern base. The fine stained
glass in the 14th century east window was made by F. X. Zettler of Munich
in 1904. The organ dates from 1920. There is a story that local men serving
in France during the First World War ran a lucrative pig farm in their
spare time, and that the organ was purchased with the proceeds!
The tower contains six bells; the treble and second
were cast by Taylors of Loughborough in 1997 and 1994 respectively; the
third by Hugh Watts, 1602, and inscribed 'Praise the Lorde'; the fourth
by Taylors in 1868; the fifth was recast by Gillett and Johnston in 1920
and retains the old inscription 'S. Marthe'. The tenor is now believed
to have been cast by John Mitchel of Wokingham c.1490; it is dedicated
to St. John and carries the inscription' In multis annis resonet campana
Johannis'. The bells are rung every Sunday before morning worship.
Recently extensive restoration work has been carried
out on the exterior stonework. The north and south aisle roofs have been
re-covered and work on the roof timbers can be seen from inside. The two
windows that were formerly in the old south chapel have been restored
The benefice of St Mary, Carlton with Chellington was
combined with that of St Peter, Harrold in 1964.