Melton Mowbray and into Rutland
(the Bristol perspective!)
I left home at 0725, picked up Andy from his house on the other side of the river and together we nattered churches all the way to Melton Mowbray 150 miles (240km) away from Bristol where we arrived at St Mary's church slightly late due to the unexpectedly high numbers of shoppers and low numbers of car parking spaces in the town centre. ChurchCrawlers were circulating already, and most had arrived before us.
St Mary, MELTON MOWBRAY, Leicestershire
MELTON MOWBRAY is a grand affair, but one several of us had been in before. As you can see they had put out bunting in order to welcome us. We gradually all met and introduced ourselves as we waited for Martin to arrive who had had some problems en route - as he said it is always those with the shortest distance to travel that arrive last!
The church is a proud building, seemingly a uniform structure, but closer examination reveals details from Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular Gothic of the C13-C16. The Victorians restored quite heavily too. The tower suffers from a local characteristic, one which we were to see again later, a badly sited and rather awkwardly placed stair turret. Its lower stage resembles nearby Ketton and its top stage Loughborough churches. Unusually there is a sizeable west porch, and steps down into the church from this.
The interior is quite stately, but some of our party commented on the row of fluorescent lights below the clerestory windows. I have seen far worse in many churches and felt they had tried to disguise the lighting quite well. The church is one of the few parish churches of England with west and eastern aisles to the transepts, made all the more unusual given that the chancel is aisleless.
Here we also met Theo, a verger whose enthusiasm for his church and those that surround it, was tangible. He told us that most of our choices for the day should be open and if not where to get the key. He also added another non-Rutland church to our list of targets. We all scuttled back to our variously sited vehicles and headed off east to regroup at
This church now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust was a suitable first stop, and we owe this to Martin who had made a specific request to me off-list. It is a notable example of Georgian Gothick with the interior arranged collegiately. The exterior is embellished by the coats of arms presumably of all the notable families in the village An entablature-like parapet of blank tracery and obelisk pinnacles show the date, 1783. In an unusual link to ChurchCrawling's 2001 trip, the church used to belong to the priory of Tutbury, spotted by Peter in the porch.
The interior is pretty and has two very large monuments in the end walls of the transepts. Esme stoops slightly (left, above) to admire a grand brass in the nave to Geoffrey Sherard d1490, his wife and his fourteen children.
Theo had warned us all not to go as a group up onto the west gallery, he had concerns whether it would still be standing if we did! Cameras flashed and beeped all over the building as we recorded the building and the two superb monuments in the transept ends. John W. finally found us (he had mistakenly headed west from Melton) and had a quick scoot around before we headed off to see Theo's recommendation.
Beforehand we left Stapleford (pronounced Stappleford) the group was asked to introduce ourselves as not everyone had the names fixed. Besides me there was Diane, Peter and Esme, Alan (100% attender and Jonathan who STILL hasn't joined us yet but went on our trip last year), John S., John H., John W., Mike (without the Rudgate Singers today), Andy, Martin and Marion. The lucky 13.
St Michael, EDMONDTHORPE, Leicestershire
EDMONDTHORPE was a charming small church,architecturally not a wonder but with sufficent fittings and monuments to keep us amused. It was recently vested in the Churches Conservation Trust. Alan discovered some medieval glass that kept him happy (but did not impress me, probably no bigger than a CD), Jonathan managed to collect his first cobwebs of the day up the tower, and all of us marvelled at the aisle-end-filling monument and puzzled over a wierd converted sedilia monument where the two commemorated appeared to be linguists (inscription in Latin, Greek, Hebrew and English!) and not to have died! I also liked the corbel above, seemingly showing a chap ready for the dentist!
Phil ever mindful of his stomach brought up the time (1315), and John H. recommended a pub which Peter and Esme seemed to know too, so we all drove past our next planned target to eat a pub meal in a very welcoming establishment where one bar was conveniently empty and the second packed with people watching the Denmark v England football match. By the pub was the church of
St Peter & St Paul, MARKET OVERTON, Leicestershire
MARKET OVERTON was our first Rutland church and completely unplanned. As John H said it was nothing special but did have an Anglo-Saxon tower arch and three carved stones embedded into the foundations of the tower which were of a similar or earlier date. I was struck by the disproportionate width of the huge south transept too. Inside the font is like a Norman capital on an Early English base. A monument to the left of the chancel arch had the inscriptioncarved on an open book.
Holy Trinity, TEIGH, Rutland
TEIGH was our smallest church of the day, and for me the most enjoyable. Jonathan collected more cobwebs as he pioneered the clambering up into the three pulpits on the west wall. The tower is medieval but the rest was rebuilt in 1782. Like Stapleford the seating is collegiate style, and the whole exudes a charm and uniqueness that kept me so spellbound I only took three photos, those posted here!
I did manage to take one of both fonts, the original a small marble basin on a metal bracket, and the second one of the ugliest amateurish examples I have seen! Diane liked it, many others were sure it was a birdbath! On the left Diane (and John W) admires the sermon being delivered by Mike.
Methodist Church, WHISSENDINE, Rutland
We actually didn't visit this church but I took this picture for absent group member Mr Neil. It shows the former Primitive Methodist Church of 1868, which Neil would have photographed if he had remembered to have booked the day off from work!
St Andrew, WHISSENDINE, Rutland
WHISSENDINE gave us after Melton our most impressive tower of the day in our second largest church of the day. It reminded me of St Cuthbert in Wells, but Pevsner is correct in saying that the design is flawed on the west and south fronts where the design allows for the internal stair turret in the south west corner. There was much of interest, yet the monuments here were in small supply. The bells were being rung as we visited adding a certain something, although John H's expert ear was not too impressed. Marion in the centre picture is seen photographing the two chaps in the right-hand picture, and the church was full of amusing faces and characters carved in wood and stone.
St Mary, ASHWELL, Rutland
ASHWELL provided our only disappointment, padlocked and chained, the rector not at home (we phoned) and a likely targetted house had the occupant seemingly confused and disorientated, asking the whereabouts of the church (and she lived next door to it!). Mind you, I have not managed to get inside the rector's other church at Cottesmore either. Largely medieval and C19 work by William Butterfield. The exterior had several examples of the use of ballflower ornamentation but we were denied seeing the C14 oak effigy lying within.
Holy Cross, BURLEY, Rutland
BURLEY was our third redundant church and third Churches Conservation Trust church. Martin and John W headed off for the key. This church standing next to a splendid C18 mansion (Burley on the Hill) , was nearly rebuilt by Pearson 1869-70. Jonathan collected his third cobweb collection up the tower, and Martin his first. Some of us marvelled at the cloyingly sweet monument by Chantrey (we had seen another by Chantry last year in Lichfield), whilst others did the opposite. The star performer was the superb Victorian glass, that in the east window by Clayton & Bell which positively shimmered like jewels.
In time honoured tradition (i.e. last in , first out) Martin departed from the group here. I hope he remembered to return the key!.
St Peter. EMPINGHAM, Rutland
The rest of us headed for EMPINGHAM and our last church (unless any of us sneaked off for more on the way home) meaning that Stamford was never reached. This church is rather large and wide, Alan discovered more glass in the north transept, I crouched to sign the visitors book and found my bad knee locked on me and had to think hard about how to get back up, and locals returned tressle tables and other artefacts from the village fete. One accused us of being a set of bellringers who had failed to turn up as arranged at lunchtime for a ring......perhaps it was the campanologists we heard at Whissendine, who had decided to watch the football instead of ringing!
Of note are the remains of medieval wall paintings in the south transept (including the Virgin Mary) and the wide proportions of the church.
We lingered over our goodbyes and even looked forward to next year. So where gang?
I had a thoroughly good day (despite spending over fifteen hours with Andy) and enjoyed the company of the group. Seven were on their first annual trip and I think we had a convoy of seven cars. The first year we were four in two cars, last year eight in four cars. In the meantime I am sure that some of us will meet up to share a ChurchCrawl between annual trips out.
Thanks to those that came for making the day special and I hope the rest of you enjoy this page.
ChurchCrawling 2nd Birthday - Churches of Lichfield area
ChurchCrawling 1st Birthday - Churches of Grantham area