St. John Baptist is an exquisite medieval church set in the ancient Ecclesiastical Parish of Berkswell. Although the oldest parts of the current building date back to c.1150, there may well have been an Anglo-Saxon precursor. Legend has it that monks from Lichfield converted the local chieftain ‘Bercul’ to Christianity and baptised him in the local well, which still exists. The place-name ‘Berkswell’, according to one popular theory, is a contraction of ‘Bercul’s Well’. The Christian faith came to Berkswell when the village was just a cluster of huts gathered round a well, in the great Forest of Arden – which, in the centuries before the Norman Conquest, covered a large part of Warwickshire. The well remains to this day, outside the churchyard gate. The present preaching cross, located just inside the churchyard,is a medieval replacement of an earlier one which may date back to Bercul’s conversion in the 8th century. Throughout the centuries, Berkswell Church has been a magnet for pilgrims drawn by the numinous quality of the interior and its beautiful surroundings.
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