THE GRAND UNION CANAL - LEICESTERSHIRE LINE
The Leicestershire line of the Grand Union Canal meanders from Leicester to Market Harborough passing through the Parish of Smeeton Westerby from a point southwest of the Smeeton Road Bridge (No. 70) to Debdale Wharf.
In 1793 an Act of Parliament was passed enabling the construction of the Leicestershire and Northamptonshire Union Canal. This new section of canal was intended to link the Soar Navigation near Leicester to the River Nene in Northamptonshire.
Debdale Wharf Inn
In 1799 James Barnes, an engineer working on the Grand Junction Canal (stretching from Braunston in Northamptonshire to the River Thames at Brentford), was asked to find a route for the to reach the Grand Junction Canal at Braunston in Northamptonshire. In 1802 he produced a proposal, to route the rest of the canal to Norton on the Grand Junction Canal, with a branch to Market Harborough. Another engineer, Thomas Telford, was asked for his opinion and he proposed a change of destination to Norton Junction for the join to the Grand Junction Canal. This route was agreed and in 1805 finance was raised and construction resumed. In 1809 the canal reached Market Harborough when once again construction was suspended.
By this time the Grand Junction Canal from London to Braunston in Northamptonshire had been completed and opened. A route for joining the Grand Junction and Grand Union Canals was discussed and it was decided that a separate company ‘The Grand Union Canal Company’ should be formed. A Bill was put before Parliament to authorise a new canal, known as the Grand Union Canal.
The Act of Parliament received Royal Assent on 24 May 1810. The Act was ‘An Act for making and maintaining a navigable Canal from the Union Canal, in the parish of Gumley, in the county of Leicester, to join the Grand Junction Canal near Buckby, in the county of Northampton.’
The canal link from Braunston to Foxton was completed and opened by 1814. This provided a direct route for the transport of industrial products and coal from the East Midlands to London.
The Grand Union Canal was never a commercial success and so with the development of the railways, trade using canals from the1830’s declined. In the years following, several proposals were made to speed up travel on the canal including the building of the Foxton Locks Inclined Plane.
During the 1950s and 1960s freight transport on the canal system declined rapidly. The Transport Act of 1962 transferred the canals to British Waterways. The 1960s saw the canal leisure industry begin to grow and this was acknowledged with the Transport Act 1968, Part Vll and Schedule 12, Part ll, ‘Cruising Waterways’. This Act required British Waterways to keep the waterways fit for cruising. This included the Leicester Line section of the Grand Union Canal. An example of the growth of the canal leisure industry can be seen at the Debdale Wharf Marina which has been operating at Debdale since 1974.
The Canal and River Trust
The Railway Arms, 6 Station Street, Kibworth Beauchamp
The Railway Arms
© The Bitterman and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence
The Railway Arms Inn, also known as The Railway and the Railway Tavern was built in 1845 shortly before the Midland Railway Company obtained powers to build a line from Wigston to Market Harborough via Kibworth. The Inn’s location at 6 Station Street was close to the Kibworth Railway Station. (see Kibworth Railway Station-Modern)
At the Market Harborough Petty Sessions on 3rd January 1846 the first licence for the Railway Tavern was granted to William Hall, butcher and licensee, of Kibworth Beauchamp. The Police Superintendent was not too happy with Mr. Hall and the Paynes Leicester Advertiser for The Midlands & Adjoining Counties report of the Court proceedings said;
‘During the Court proceedings the Superintendent complained that Hall had allowed gambling and drunkenness to a late hour annoying neighbours. When the Magistrates granted the licence, they cautioned Hall warning that if he continued to allow such practice the licence would not be renewed’.’
Paynes Leicester Advertiser for The Midlands & Adjoining Counties later reported:
‘On 4th November 1848 William Hall held a sale at the Railway Tavern of his furniture, brewing vessels and barrels before leaving the Inn’.
The Railway Inn 1903 - photograph by John Elcock
Behind the Inn was a large yard with stabling for 12 horses, pigsties and a blacksmith's shop. The original buildings were demolished along with an adjoining cottage in 1926 and replaced by the present building. A further extension was added in the 1960s.
The pub is situated within the Kibworth Beauchamp Conservation Area of the Harborough District, however it is not listed.
The Railway Inn was a former Ansell’s House and some years ago the individual rooms were altered to form one large room which consisted of a games area with a pool table and dart board, a central public bar area and a lounge bar area. There was a wall picture of railway themes and scenes of bygone Kibworth. The Inn also had a skittles long alley which doubles as a function room. The skittles alley was removed in 2020 and the area is now incorporated into a large walled beer garden at the rear.
Star Pubs and Bars (the pub business of Heineken) took over ownership of The Railway Inn in the spring of 2019 and closed the pub on 5th January 2020 for a £200,000 refurbishment project. The Inn reopened on the 22nd February 2020. The covid-19 pandemic meant the pub had very limited opening until mid May 2021.
Kibworth and Smeeton Inn and Innkeepers1753 – 1968 by Philip Porter
THE GREAT FAMINE AND THE BLACK DEATH
The 14th century was a difficult period for Kibworth Beauchamp, Kibworth Harcourt, Smeeton Westerby and indeed the whole country. 1314 saw the start of the Great Famine, followed by The Black Death in 1348, with both leaving a trail of death and economic problems for the three villages.
The Great Famine 1314 to 1317
During 1313 severe gales caused havoc in the villages damaging buildings, hedges and trees. Hard frosts in the first months of 1314 persisted until April followed by a hot dry summer which baked the ground resulting in a poor harvest. Autumn brought torrential rain and this extreme weather persisted throughout 1315 and 1316 leaving crops rotting and dying in the fields. Livestock suffered through the lack of animal fodder. This resulted in a severe shortage of food stocks and increased prices adding to the hardships engulfing the villagers. These food shortages persisted into the next decade. The death toll from the famine was approximately 10% of the population along with a severe damage to the economics of the villages.
The Kibworth Harcourt accounts for 1315 to 1318 show increasing rent arrears with the number of poverty-stricken tenants forced to give up their land increasing from 6 to 40 a year.
The Black Death 1348 t0 1553
The Black Death was a bubonic plague, caused by the bacterium now identified as Yersinia pestis, which originated in Asia around 1346 spreading across Europe to reach England in the summer of 1348. The plague spread throughout England very quickly leaving a trail of death in its path.
During that summer rumours, possibly through Kibworth Harcourt’s association with Merton College, Oxford, began to circulate in Kibworth of a terrible pestilence. Later that year the plague reached Leicestershire and arrived in Kibworth at the beginning of 1349.
The first deaths were recorded in Kibworth Beauchamp in April that year. The Kibworth Harcourt court rolls, held at Merton College recorded the first deaths in the village on 29th April 1349.
Image used to portray the disposal of bodies during the Black Death
The court roll only recorded deaths of landholders and tenants. The deaths of women, children, labourers and those not owning any land were not recorded.
Kibworth had the heaviest known losses from the Black Death of any English village and whilst the figures are not absolutely accurate, with some records lost, the death toll for Kibworth Beauchamp, Kibworth Harcourt and Smeeton Westerby was about 500. The mortality rate from the Black Death in England was estimated at 40% and when compared to the estimated mortality rate in Kibworth Harcourt, at least 70%, indicates that the village was far more severely affected than most. There appears to be no explanation for the disparity in these mortality figures.
The Kibworth Harcourt court rolls from this period, held at Merton College Oxford, give an indication of how the villagers tried to keep things running as near normal as possible, vacant tenancies were filled, new village officers appointed, and children whose parents had died and were too young to tend their parent’s land were[D1] [D2] [D3] [D4] cared for.
With the heavy death toll disposal of the bodies was a problem and open mass graves known as ‘Death Pits’ or ‘Plague ‘Pits’ were utilised.
By the end of 1350 The Black Death had begun to abate. However minor outbreaks of the disease appeared over the next few years and continued into the early years of the 15th century.
Having to cope with the deaths of so many relatives and friends had a large impact on the people who survived the disease. This coupled with the damage to the economies of Kibworth Beauchamp, Kibworth Harcourt and Smeeton Westerby, had a severe effect on village life over the next few decades.
The Story of England by Michael Wood
The BBC Magazine 11th June 2020, ‘On how pandemics shape society’ by Michael Wood
Britain Express, The Black Death in England 1348-1350’ by David Ross
Demographic Changes In Kibworth Harcourt Leicestershire In The Later Middle Ages by David Postles
1571 – 1797
The first recorded trace of the Foxton family in Kibworth was the birth of John Foxton in 1571. He was the son of Samuel Foxton born 1530 in Leicester. John married Annis, born, c1575, in Kibworth Beauchamp. They had four daughters and two sons; Richard born 20 Nov.1609 and William born1613 who died in the year of his birth. John Foxton died leaving a will dated 29th August 1767 and Annis died in1635. Their son Richard Foxton lived in Kibworth Beauchamp and in 1646 married Agnes/Ann born 1626 in Leicestershire to parents’ unknown. Together they had eight children including Matthew born 1648. In 1673 Matthew Foxton married Jane Fox born1652 in Kibworth Beauchamp and they had four children: Ann born 1674, Elizabeth born 1676, Elisabeth born 1668 and John born 18th December1685.
Extract from the Kibworth Toll Book 1719 showing John and Matthew Foxton
From 1705 the Foxton family lived in Manor Farmhouse, 39 Main Street, Kibworth Harcourt. (see Manor Farmhouse, 39 Main Street, Kibworth Harcourt-Ancient). Jane Foxton died in 1711 and Mathew died in 1723. In Matthew’s Will he left a legacy for the poor of Kibworth Harcourt as shown in this extract from:
The thirty second report of the commissioners appointed in pursuit of the Act appointing Commissioners to continue the inquiries concerning Charities in England and Wales: Township of Kibworth Harcourt
Matthew Foxton of Kibworth Harcourt by WILL dated 3d Jan 1721, and proved at Leicester 1723 devised a half yard land in Kibworth Harcourt be divided equally between his two grandsons, and charged one share theof with the sum of 5s. per annum for the use of the poor of Kibworth Harcourt and the other share with the like sum of 5s to be paid on the feast day of St. Matthias for the like poor and to be distributed among them at the discretion of his heir-in-law for the time being and the minister of the parish church and the churchwardens of the town of Kibworth Harcourt forever. One share of his land was inclosed under the Kibworth Inclosure Act and the Commissioners, by their award, dated 14 July 1780, allotted to Elizabeth Wright in lieu of her property therin, a piece of land in West Field, Kibworth Harcourt, containing 4a. Or. 38f.
The present owner of this allotment is Samuel Lamon of Kibworth Harcourt who distributes the sum of 5s. on the 24 February among old and impotent poor persons of the township. The Commissioners could not obtain any information regarding the other 5s. per annum or the land upon which it was charged.
Matthew Foxton’s son John married Sarah Ward at St Wilfrid’s Church, Kibworth Beauchamp on 3rd July 1715. They lived in Manor Farmhouse and had two children, George, born 1716, and Ann born 1718. John Foxton died on 6th September 1767 and Sarah Foxton died on 1st December 1768.
Sarah and John Foxton’s headstone St Wilfrids Churchyard
In memoey of SARAH WIFE of In Memory of JOHN FOXTON JOHN FOXTON who departed who departed this Life September this Life November 29th 1768 3rd in the Year of our Lord 1767 Aged 80 Years Aged 82 Years The rightous shall be had in everlasting remembrance
John Foxton’s daughter Ann married John Owsley of Kibworth Beauchamp at St Wilfrid’s Church, Kibworth Beauchamp in 1739. George Foxton continued to live in The Manor Farmhouse becoming a land owner and grazier. In 1740 he married Elizabeth Fowler at the Church of St John the Baptist, Goadby. They had two daughters, Elizabeth born 1745 and Sarahf born 7th April 1747.
Sarah Foxton married Robert Adams on 6th September 1779 at Kibworth Beauchamp. They had eight children, the youngest was Poyntz Adams born on 4th September 1789 in Leyton, Essex. Poyntz was educated and mentored by his uncle Rev. Thomas Thomas. (see Rev Thomas Thomas part 1 and Poyntz Adams part 1-Modern)
George Foxton, Gentleman and Lord of the Manor was a much-respected man by his tenants and acquaintances but unfortunately he suffered from a serious nervous complaint which for many years left him dependant on others to survive. George Foxton’s wife, Elizabeth, died in March 1784.
It is likely that Rev. Thomas Thomas, who had been living with the Foxton family from 1788, supported and cared for George Foxton, who may have been suffering from dementia. George Foxton died on 6th December 1794.
The Gentleman Magazine 1794 reported his burial as follows:
‘County Leicestershire; Place Kibworth Beauchamp; Church name St Wilfrid; Burial date 30 Dec 1794; Burial person forename George; Burial person surname FOXTON (GENT); Person age 78; Burial person abode KH;
(Transcribed by June James; Credit June James; File line number 192)
Elizabeth and George Foxton’s headstone, St Wilfrids Churchyard;
In memory of ELIZABETH the wife of GEORGE FOXTON Gent She died on the 19th March 1784 in hope of a joyful Resurrection in the 60th year of her age In memory of GEORGE FOXTON Gent He departed this life Dec 24th 1794 In the 79th year of his Age in hopes of a joyful Resurrection through Death’s dark horn we hope she safely trod: Blessed are the faithful for they (illegible) The way to peace, Contentment and to God. Rest in hope.
On 21st September 1796 at St Wilfrid’s Church, Kibworth Beauchamp George Foxton’s eldest daughter, Elizabeth, married Rev. Thomas Thomas and they lived at Manor Farmhouse. Elizabeth Thomas died on the 6th September 1797, within a year of her marriage. (see Rev homas Thomas part 1-Modern)
There is a plaque commemorating the lives of Rev. Thomas Thomas BD and his wife Elizabeth (nee Foxton) in St Wilfrid’s Church, Kibworth;
Consoled in approaching Death by Faith scripture and the Hope of Advancement to Life eternal on September: 1797 dyd Elizabeth the Daughter of George Foxton of Kibworth Gentleman and Wife of reverend Thomas Thomas. BD. Rector of Isham. Alfo in Memory of Revd. Thomas Thomas BD. who died Dec 1st 1825 in the 85th Year of his Age. O Grief allow that Death nor Tomb profound Can duft reviving lock in charnel Ground When JAH commands the Clay dead form arise And Spirit like ascend to Sion Skies so Grievance more to feel nor fancyd Gloom But Rapture that confess a glorious Doom Where Saint becomes in Soul embodying Frame. A Monument of Praise to Shiloh’s Name.
With the passing of Elizabeth Thomas and the marriage of Sarah Foxton to Robert Adams and this family living in Essex there were no members of the Foxton family left in Kibworth Harcourt.
Written by David Adams with research by Jeni Molyneux
Research by Jeni Molyneux in December 2019 at the Pembrokeshire Archives uncovered the copy of the ‘Schedule of title deeds’ kept by Rev Thomas Thomas and this pencilled list of ‘lease and release’=sale of property relating to the Foxton family:
Schedule of title deeds, relating to an Estate at Kibworth Harcourt and Kibworth Beauchamp in the county of Leicester regarding the property of the Reverend Thomas Thomas clerk deceased.
(Document obtained from the Pembrokeshire Records Office)
20th and 21st September 1740
Indentures of lease and release. The release between John Foxton and Sarah his wife of the 1st part Thomas Ward and George Woodcock of the 2nd part and George Foxton, son and heir of this John Foxton and Sarah and Elizabeth Fowler /eldest daughter of Elizabeth Fowler widow/of the 3rd part.
3rd April 1783
An Indre between George Foxton and Elizabeth his wife of the one part and Thomas Ward/son and heir of Thomas Ward deceased of the other part.
29th August 1767
The Will of John Foxton
6th August 1794 The Will of the said George Foxton
26th 27th November 1795
Indentures of lease and release.
The release between Elizabeth Foxton of the 1st part the Reverend Thomas Thomas clerk of the second part William Peppin and John Johnson the third part and Thomas State and William Starked of the fourth part.
27th 28th February 1817
Indentures of lease and release. The release between John Foxton Adams, Robert Adams the younger, Poyntz Adams, Dorothea Oursley Adams and Elizabeth Adams (children of Sarah Adams deceased) of the one part and the Rev Thomas Thomas of the other part.
3rd March 1817
A n indenture between the said John Foxton Adams, Robert Adams the younger, Poyntz Adams, Dorothea Oursley Adams and Elizabeth Adams of the first part; William (W) Wartnaby of the second part, the Reverend Thomas Thomas of the third part, John (W) Wartnaby of the fourth part and John Arthur Arnold of the fifth part.
Indres (Indentures) of fine wherein John Hartnaby is plaintiff John Foxton Adams Robert Adams Poyntz Adams Dorothea Oursley Adams and Elizabeth Adams are Defunct.
Kibworth Beauchamp Manor
11th to 20th Century
1042 - 1066
During the reign of Edward the Confessor, 5 carucatesi and 6 bovatesii of the Kibworth Beauchamp Manor were held by Edwin and Alferd, and 6 carucates by Ailmar.
The manor of Kibworth Beauchamp was held by Robert (the dispensator) and consisted of 11 carucates and 6 bovates.
Geoffrey Ridel held 1 carucate of the manor on his death
11 carucates were held by Walter de Beauchamp and one carucate by Richard Basset. Walter, whose wife’s uncle was Robert (the dispensator), acquired the land from him. Richard Basset acquired his 1 carucate through his marriage to Maud, daughter of Geoffrey Ridel. What happened to Basset’s land is not known. The Kibworth Beauchamp manor passed through Walter’s descendants.
William de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, died in possession of the manor and it continued to be held by his descendants.
All the lands of Thomas de Beauchamp, 12th Earl of Warwick, were forfeited after King Richard II charged him with high treason. The Kibworth Beauchamp manor was granted to Thomas Green, one of the King’s Knights and his male descendants. However, the Countess of Warwick was allowed to hold the manor for life in view of the forfeiture of her husband's lands. Letters patent were issued granting the manor jointly to Green and the Countess until her death when the manor would revert to Green and his heirs.
King Richard II was deposed; the forfeiture of the manor was revoked and returned to Thomas de Beauchamp, 12th Earl of Warwick
Thomas de Beauchamp, 12th Earl of Warwick died, the manor was held in dower by his widow and on her death it was held by the Earl’s son and heir Richard de Beauchamp,13th Earl of Warwick.
Richard, 13th Earl of Warwick conveyed the manor to feoffeesⁱⁱⁱ.
Richard de Beauchamp died and the manor was held by the feoffees, a dispute arose between Richard’s heirs and John Huggeford, the surviving feoffee.
Huggeford died in possession of the manor. It would appear that the manor was appropriated by Richard’s heir, Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Lisle. Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Lisle had married Elizabeth Talbot, 3rd Baroness Lisle (granddaughter of Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick). Edward Grey seized the manor of right on the death of his wife Elizabeth in 1487.
Edward Grey died, he was succeeded by his son and heir John Grey.
Sir John Grey, 2nd Viscount Lisle died and the manor descended to his unborn daughter Elizabeth Grey, Baroness Lisle in her own right. Elizabeth Grey was born in March 1505.
Elizabeth Grey, Baroness Lisle, died at the age of 14, her heirs were two aunts. The manor appears to have gone to one of the aunts, Elizabeth, 6th Baroness Lisle, the wife of Edmund Dudley and after Dudley’s execution, the wife of Arthur Plantagenet.
Elizabeth, 6th Baroness Lisle died and the Kibworth Beauchamp manor became the subject of long negotiations between her son by her first marriage, John Dudley and her illegitimate son, Arthur Plantagenet, who had adopted the name of her second husband, Arthur Plantagenet, who had been created Viscount Lisle in 1523,held the manor.
Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle, died and John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland, Earl of Warwick, acquired the manor.
The manor was forfeited and held by the Crown following the execution of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, for treason. The manor was granted to his widow, Jane Dudley, Duchess of Northumberland, for life.
Jane Dudley died and the manor was held by the Crown.
Queen Elizabeth I granted the manor to Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick and his brother Robert Dudley.
Ambrose Dudley died without children and as his brother Robert had died the year before the manor once again reverting to the Crown.
On 11th June King James I granted in fee-simpleⁱⁱⁱⁱ the manor of Kibworth Beauchamp to Sir Augustine Nichols and John Smith.
Sir Augustine died in and it is not clear what happened to the manor immediately after.
The manor had been acquired by John Berridge who was Rector of Kibworth (1602-1632) and the manor remained with the Berridge family.
Richard Davenport had married Dorothy, daughter of William Berridge, Rector of Kibworth (1632-1641), and he held the manor of Kibworth Beauchamp.
Richard Davenport and his wife sold the advowson of Kibworth Beauchamp along with the manor to Sir Thomas Halford, Bt., of Wistow Hall (MP for Leicestershire). The manor remained in the hands of the Halford family.
Sir Charles Halford died childless. His widow, Countess Sarah Halford, who later married Basil Fielding, 6thEarl of Denbigh, held the manor.
Countess Sarah died and in accordance with Sir Charles Halford’s will his estate passed to his cousin Dr. Henry Vaughan MD. Physician to King George III who had been appointed a Baronet in 1809 taking the name Halford. The estate including the Kibworth Beauchamp manor passed through the Halford family and finally to Sir Henry Halford.
Sir Henry Halford died and he left the manor to Thomas Francis Fremantle, 2nd Baron Cottesloe, who held the manor into the 20th century.
Written by David Adams
British History on line
Calendar of State Papers Domestic James I
Debrett's Baronetage of England
The Descendants of Richard Davenport (c1545 – 1623/4) of Great Wigston
Historic Gathering at Kibworth 1863
The Leicestershire Architectural and Archaeological Society AGM
The Leicestershire Architectural and Archaeological Society held its two day AGM in Kibworth in August 1863. The following article is a transcript of a detailed report recorded in the Leicester Journal published on Friday, 7 August, 1863. The original newspaper report had very few paragraph breaks and no headings. This transcript has introduced paragraphs and headings.
This Society held its annual general meeting (in union with the Architectural Society of the Archdeaconry of Northampton) on Tuesday and Wednesday last, at Kibworth Beauchamp. At the commencement of the proceedings on the morning of the first day the weather was very inauspicious. Clouds obscured the sky, and the rain descended in brisk showers during the whole day. The business, however, was confined to meetings indoors, and to a certain extent the inconvenience arising from the unfavourable meteorological omens was not so much experienced. The arrangements for holding this meeting were satisfactorily carried out, and Mr T North, of Southfields, Leicester, and Mr G C Bellairs, the honorary secretaries; the Rev J H Hill, the local honorary secretary, and the committee, may be congratulated upon the success of their efforts. The study once a year of those fine ecclesiastical edifices which this county can boast of, the collection and exhibition of numerous rare relics of antiquity, which are treasured up by many ladies and gentlemen in this neighbourhood; and the holding of a conference of the members of the Society which should, besides affording an opportunity for social intercourse, prove edifying and calculated to advance the interests of the Society, are features in a meeting of this sort which is pleasing to notice.
The programme for Tuesday opened properly enough with the usual Morning Prayer in the Parish Church, the Rev M Osborn and the Rev W Cleaver officiating. Notwithstanding the untoward circumstances which we have mentioned, there was a good attendance. Amongst those present we noticed Sir Henry Dryden, Bart; The Very Rev the Dean of Waterford; Rev H J Bigge, of Rockingham Castle; Rev C W Belgrave, North Kilworth; Rev R Pigott; Rev R Dalton, of Kelmarsh; Rev E Parker, of Oxendon; the Misses Parker (3); Mrs Osborn; Mrs Cleaver; Rev J H Hill, local honorary secretary; Mr T North, honorary secretary; Mrs Hildebrand; Mrs Dalton; Mr J Marriott, Kibworth; Mr Wm Marriott; Mr J Marriott, jun; Mrs John Halford; Mrs Marriott; Mr Wm Johnson, Peatling; Miss Firn, Miss Mercer, Leicester; Mr T Fry, Leicester; Mr R Henley; Mr J Underwood; Mr Wm Grant (church warden); Mr Firn, Leicester, &c.
Architecture of Kibworth Church
At the close of the service, Mr Wm Slater, architect, of Carlton Chambers, Regent-street, London, described the architectural features of the fabric, which had recently been restored. He said: Ladies and gentlemen, - Having been desired by the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Leicestershire to read a short paper on this Church, it gives me great pleasure to comply with the request. Although Kibworth Church is very uniform in plan, and does not possess so many features of antiquarian interest as are frequently to be met with in some churches in this county, still it will well repay a visit from members of the Society. I shall not have to trouble you with any lengthened description of its historical history, as no doubt this will be done by the Rector, in the paper he is good enough to favour us with on the general antiquities of the parish - in truth, very little historical record remains of our county churches, and if it is not too bold an assertion, we were going to say that they tell their own story sufficiently by careful examination of their various remains.
The Church is dedicated to St Wilfrid (AD 709); he is commemorated in the Old English calendar on October 12th. Thirty-three churches have the same dedication, but only three of these are south of the Trent, of which this is one. St Wilfrid succeeded St Chad in the See of York; he was expelled by King Egfrid. A very interesting account is given by Archdeacon Churton (in his ‘Early English Church’) of St Wilfrid, who is famous for being the founder of Ripon, and as having, after his expulsion from York, gone to Selsey, on the coast of Sussex, to preach to the southern Saxons, and establishing a Bishop’s see before its removal to Chichester. St Wilfrid was a great church builder and restorer, and in reference to the early Minster of York, it is related ‘that he found it in a state of miserable neglect, the old roof dropping with rain drops, and the windows open to the weather, and giving entrance to the birds, which made their nests within. He repaired it substantially, skilfully roofing it with lead (it was probably of thatch before), and prevented the entrance of birds and rain by putting glass into the windows, yet such glass as allowed the light to shine within.’ At Ripon he built a new church of polished stone, with columns variously ornamented, and porches.
It appears from its name that this was an Anglo-Saxon village. It is stated in Nicholls’s History as formerly spelt Chiburde. There are many villages which have the same ending, viz Kilworth - North and South, Bosworth, Brixworth - names which are famous to most of us. ‘Worth’ has been understood to mean the piece or tongue of land between two streams at their intersection. On the other hand, Mr Walford, in his account of the church of Worth, Sussex, published in the Sussex Archaeological Journal, says - ‘The name of the place (Worth) is Anglo-Saxon, and probably Saxon-English also; it signifies a collection of houses, a street, village, and sometimes a principal residence with inferior houses about it for dependents, as was likely to be the case in this instance.’ I have only been able to obtain, from Nichols’s History already referred to, a very slight description of the church. The most valuable information is that of a View, showing the ancient tower and spire, the height of which is given as 53 yards, ie 159 feet; also we are told that ‘there are three very neat galleries of modern construction’ and that there are a peal of six bells, founded in 1732. This is a good specimen of a Midland County parish church, suitable, as no doubt originally designed, for a village of some importance.
I shall confine myself, in the few remarks with which I shall trouble you, to its architectural description. And first with reference to the ground plan, which consists of chancel with a modern vestry on the north side, nave, north and south aisles, at the eastern termination of which are two chapels, north and south porches, a modern western tower, in the position of the ancient tower and spire, which fell down in 1825. The plan is remarkable for its uniformity. The earliest portion is the priest’s door on the south side of the chancel, and as far as I can judge (except portions of the chancel walls), the only portion of the early 13th century church remaining. The date of the nave, aisles, and chancel is about 1350, and what is generally known as the period which is termed Transitional from Second to Third Pointed. As regards the chancel, I should first describe it before the late restoration. No structural work has been done to the north and south walls. I have drawings which will better explain the condition of the chancel before the alterations. The roof was a modern low roof of no architectural pretensions, and covered with lead. The east window, as will be seen by referring to the drawing, consisted of five bays, with floying or reticulated tracery, but with a flat or segmental head. A new roof, following the ancient pitch, which it is unnecessary to describe, has been placed in lieu of the old one; and new tracery head in the east window, in character with windows in the aisles, has been constructed. It appears to me that the former head of the east window was not the original one. I must also call your attention to the sedilia on the south side, to the east of which is the piscina, which has been recently put in, following as far as possible the example given in Nichols. On further examination of the sedilia, you will observe that the lower part, or the jambs and piers, are not of the same date or character as the tracery head, neither are they constructed of the same stone. The capitals and bases are so rude that it is hardly possible to make out their exact character or date; there is, however, a similarity between them and the details of the priest’s door, so it is just possible they may be coeval of the first Pointed Church. Churches were restored or rebuilt at a much slower rate than in the present age. It may be that the nave and aisles were rebuilt first, and the First Pointed chancel left, for it is manifest that it is of a later period than the body of the church. The jambs of the chancel windows are of the same character as those of the nave - the tracery heads much inferior. There is underneath the most southern window on the south wall, the low side window, the ancient use of which has not yet been accurately determined by the authorities; it had references to some discipline of the church, which appears to have been lost. The doorway to the ancient vestry still remains in the north wall, and the marks outside clearly point out its original position. The vestry and entrance to it, on the north side, are modern, and, as you know, were erected when the church was reseated. The chancel is 42ft. by 19ft. 3in.
The nave is separated from the aisles by an arcade of four arches, of good proportions. You will observe that there are no capitals, a rather uncommon treatment, and which seems to mark the decline of what we think the best period of pointed architecture; similar examples are to be met with at Misterton in this county, and there are many large foreign churches which have the same treatment. The mouldings of the arches and piers are bold, and the bases are well terminated. The chancel arch is of good proportions, the arch is an equilateral triangle. I must call your especial attention to the tracery of the windows in the aisles; the tracery differs from those on the north side from those in the south. The windows of the two chapels are of five lights, the bays are small. I have already referred to the date of the church as being the latter portion of the Second Pointed revival, and I will very briefly describe a little in detail a few of the characteristics of tracery of Gothic windows of the 2nd Pointed or decorated Period. In the 1st period it is unnecessary to say the windows were simply pointed without cusping; then follow forms of geometrical patterns of every variety of treatment - numerous examples abound in churches in this vicinity - in the aisles of Naseby Church are good examples of geometric tracery so often to be met with in Parish Churches. There is a pattern of window called interlacing, where the sections of the mullion are produced to the arch, this is very common in the churches in this neighbourhood - nearly all the churches in Leicester have examples of this kind. After windows of this date came what is termed flowery or flamboyant tracery, a development of which is found in this Church. In the Midland counties numerous examples are to be found of windows of this date, and you may have remarked when inspecting the churches how full of remains there are of the period of 2nd and 3rd Pointed Gothic in all its different phases; but comparatively few remain of Norman or 1st Pointed or early English.
The nave and aisles were until very lately ceiled with ordinary flat ceilings. These have all been removed, and new roof substituted. I do not venture to say that the effect is much better, but I was delighted to hear from the Rector that since the roofs were open he found the church much better to preach in, so practically at least there has been an improvement. It is very unusual to have two porches so precisely alike - may they have been for the two divisions of the Parish, Kibworth Beauchamp and Kibworth Harcourt? These porches are of good proportion, and of the same date as the rest of the church. The roofs, copings, and parapets or eaves cornice, have been much tampered with. You will notice a niche over the archway which formerly most probably had a figure.
Having very briefly touched on the chancel, nave, aisles, and porches, there remains, or rather there are no remains of the old tower and spire. The facts are briefly these: - The tower was being repaired, and whilst the workmen were at breakfast, the tower and spire fell down on July 23rd, 1825. It is stated that very little damage was done to the rest of the church; the extent of the mischief is easily seen by an inspection of the masonry - in most cases an admirable clue to the fixing of dates of rebuilding - the two west windows of the aisles and the west clerestory windows are obviously altogether of a different character to the rest, and were all put in with the walls adjacent since the fall. After this lamentable catastrophe, steps were immediately taken to rebuild the tower and spire. An eminent architect, Mr Smirk, of London (I presume the present Sir R Smirke) was called in, and plans and estimates were obtained and numerous meetings of the parishioners held for the purpose of considering the best way of carrying out the object: but, as is too often the case, the lowest estimate (between £5000 to £6000) was considered very high, so much so that the idea of reproducing the old example was abandoned. The result was, a local architect was called in. Mr Flint, of Leicester, who made the design for a new tower altogether, which was executed as we see and which we can now examine.
Nicholls gives a view of the church from the north east, and a south view which look almost like what we term an elevation: unfortunately these two views differ as to the tower and spire slightly, but from what I could gather from both, I fear I must come to the conclusion that the cost to the parish and the county has been very great, and these views referred to convince me of the beautiful proportion of the tower and spire which formerly existed. It is said to be about 159 feet high, and was erected since the nave, and was (at least so I judge from the prints) of the 3rd or perpendicular date, and I should think would have ranked very high in the spires of this county, in fact, almost good enough to have competed (as we Northamptonshire men would say) with some of the spires in the neighbouring county. Old Kibworth tower and spire seems to be a little like Theddingworth and Brampton, and of the same date. It had buttresses so peculiar to Northamptonshire, and which for want of a better name I will call pilaster buttresses - that is of a slight projection. You will find these almost at every tower, and in all dates. The spire was terminated by a broach, this is unusual in the later styles. There is a very fine example of a late broach spire at Stanton, near Geddington, which probably you may know, and of this date. There are examples of broach spires at Market Harborough, Gadsby, Misterton, Oadby, and Frisby, but the spires in this county spring generally from parapets.
Enough has been said to convince us of the great loss sustained to this parish and county in consequence of the plan for rebuilding having been abandoned, but I do not think it would be generous of us who live in these days to cast too much censure on the representatives of this parish for this (as we no doubt all think) unwise decision. We cannot, however, be too thankful that no lives were lost, and that the church itself suffered so little. The next course was adopted, viz that of erecting a tower of less cost, and let me add also (considering the time it was erected) I am of the opinion that the present tower is of good proportions. The tower and spire of St George’s, Leicester, and the one before us, have, to my mind, considerable merit, for they were built when but little was known of proportions and detail, and when still less was cared for the revival of Christian pointed architecture.
I have described the structure, if not wearying you let me briefly allude to the internal arrangements. When I first inspected this church I congratulated the Rector and the Churchwardens upon having so beautiful a building, and one which was so well adapted in every way for the requirements of the parishioners. Happily there was no wish or necessity for disturbing the old structure in the re-arrangement of the seats. It is always to be regretted that the taking down of galleries involves the enlargement of the fabric. The three neat galleries which existed in Nichols’s time have ceased to be; the old pews are no more; and the nave is, as you see, re-fitted with seats of an uniform height; the pulpit is on the north side, and the prayer desk on the south. The font is, as it should be, placed at the western end of the church. This is the same font, a drawing of which is given in Nichols’s history, but is not the old one. The old font you will have an opportunity of examining. During the commonwealth and the so called incumbency of a Captain Yaxley, it was taken out of the church and converted to a horse trough, and was afterwards buried in the church yard. After that it was offered for sale to a late Rector, but as it was considered too far gone for restoration, nothing was done until a few days ago, when, in company with the present Rector, I made a visit of exploration, and the old font was dug up in a field, and we now trust will find its way to its original position, and for many years to come.
The chancel is very properly fitted with seats for the choir. On the south side is placed the organ. As I have not had in any way anything to do with these arrangements, I have the less scruple in saying how admirable they appear to be, and how well suited they are for the wants of the church. A few years ago, comparatively speaking, we were in doubt as to the proper use of the chancel, now it is far otherwise, and no plan now is considered satisfactory by those who have studied the subject, and by our architectural societies, if the ritual arrangements are not duly considered and carried out.
I have not said anything yet as to the skreen which separates the body of the church from the chancel. I was very glad that the remnant of this old feature has been preserved. I have prepared a very rough sketch for its partial restoration. You will see at a glance that it is sadly mutilated. It is hardly my purpose to go much into the subject. Yet a few words may not be altogether out of place. By reference to the ancient authorities there is no doubt that a separation between the body of the church and the chancel always existed from the earliest times. These skreens were often constructed of stone or marble, and were originally low, on which were placed high desks or pulpits, from which the Epistle or Gospel and other portions of the service were read or sung, numerous examples of which remain in the ancient basilicas. It is not exactly known when the high skreens were erected with transverse rood lofts. These skreens were constructed of wood or stone in every variety of treatment and of richness in detail. In many counties the remnants of these skreens still remain. You will find also the staircase which is usually constructed in the thickness of the wall and on the north or south side of the chancel arch. In this instance the staircase is on the south side. I must point out also the two stone corbels from their peculiar position. I think the rood beam might have been supported on them. The two small windows in this wall appear to have been placed there in reference to the rood loft. I cannot account for the first clerestory window on the south side being of three lights when all the others are only two. I have found instances where there have been clerestory or dormer windows constructed on the north and south sides only, near the chancel arch, as if to throw light on the rood loft, when no other clerestory windows have existed. I am unable to say whether these two windows were placed for a similar reason.
We have no examples of skreens in England earlier than the 13th century, and from that time down to the present they have been placed in our churches. I regret I have not visited many parish churches on the continent. I have always noticed, however, how few examples of skreens remain compared to what exist in our own churches. It is quite manifest that the skreen has been always retained in our church. At Haselbeach there exists an iron skreen or grille of the 17th century. At Bulwick, in the same county, a Jacobean skreen. At Weldon a high skreen was put up eight years ago. Many of the learned who have considered the subject have thought that the best arrangement, and that which is best suited for the choral and ritual requirements, is to have a low skreen or septune wall. I confess there is much to be said for this plan, and which can be defended from ancient authority already referred to. I could not do better than refer you to a church which all members of this Society should be acquainted with. I mean Theddingworth, where the arrangement alluded to has been well carried out. I should myself rigidly contend for the retention of the chancel skreen as in the case before us. As I have before remarked the skreen is of great antiquity, and moreover we find numerous examples of skreens being put up in our churches in all periods since the reformation, for instance, Geddington, Martham Norfolk, and as is well known at the College Chapels at Oxford, viz Wadham, Balliol, old skreens at Magdalene and Lincoln, before the alterations, Peterhouse, Caius College, Clavehull, Cambridge; and St Giles in the Field (now destroyed) London, and at St Peter’s Cornhill Sir C Wren has placed a skreen, who, by the bye, must have been well acquainted with the ritual arrangements of the church. A sermon was preached at the opening of the church November 27, 1681, by the Rev Bishop Beveridge, who enters fully into the subject of chancel skreens. The Bishop says, “The place where the sacrament is administered was wont to be separated from the rest of the church by a skreen or partition, and this was anciently observed in the building of all consecrated churches within a few centuries after the Apostles themselves, even in the days of Constantine the Great, as well as in all ages since.”
I have to thank you in conclusion for listening to these few remarks, which are only intended to assist you in understanding the church when inspecting it, which I hope you will do, and of giving you a cursory historical account of this interesting church.
In the afternoon a museum (temporarily formed in the National Schools by permission of the Rector) was opened to the members and the public. In this exhibition the objects of antiquarian interest were numerous and interesting. The list was as follows:-
Exhibited by Rev M Osborn: Autographs - Letter of Frederick the Great of Prussia, to John Osborn, minister to the Court of Dresden, with the insignia of the order of the Red Eagle; letter of Queen of Bohemia to Sir Henry Osborn 1625;
letter of Sir Henry Osborn to Queen of Bohemia 1625; pass of Speaker Lenthall to Sir Henry Osborn, to go to Belvoir 1645;
letter of Admiral Byng to his sister the Hon. Mrs Osborn, written from on board the ‘Monarque’ the night before the execution; frank of Sir Danvers Osborn, one of the latest governors of New York 1645;
a printed book of the date 1518, printed at Venice, Pliny’s letters. Miscellaneous - Basso-relievo in wax of the Last Supper; necklace of olive berries, brought from the Mount of Olives 1820; canoe brought from Venice 1821;
piece of the Royal George;
three old keys 1643, one now in use;
two Roman coins, a Scotch penny of Alexander, a silver twopenny piece of Queen Elizabeth, two farthings of Edward I;
a paper cutter of oak, from the timbers of the Bishop Ken’s house, at Winchester, into which he refused to admit Nell Gwynne;
pieces of oak bark from the old timbers of Kibworth Church, supposed to be 500 years old; an alabaster figure from China; a cross carved in stone by a poor boy employed to break stones on the road in Somersetshire;
an ivory Chinese carved card case (Mr Osborn); a memorial gold medal of the Right Hon. William Pitt 1806.
Samuel Burdett: Snuff box, tooth pick, sun, spear, Bible, two paintings, wooden shoes, chopping knife, three snuff boxes, one plate, bookscrew, desk.
William Noon: Eleven old coins found at Market Harborough, California gold.
Joseph Linnett: Tutter’s Pisgah sight of Palestine, two butter boats and salt cellar, tea pot.
Dunkley: Billiard cue, tea pot, cream jug, and pitcher.
George Palmer: Tea pot.
Thomas Wright: Glass dish, jelly glasses, porter mug.
Mr Clarke, Saddington: Bonnet 18th century, pincers, old iron.
Mr Fletcher: Desk.
Mr Patrick, Saddington: Tea pot.
Miss Webster: three dresses 18th century, pair of slippers, and four books, a cup and saucer, and watch.
Rev M Osborn: A representation of the Last Supper in wax, an autograph letter of Frederick the Great of Prussia to Henry Osborne, the envoy to the Court at Dresden, an autograph letter of the Queen of Bohemia to John Osborn, Esq.
Thomas Stinson, Smeeton: Stone.
David Cooper: Salt-cellar, two plates.
S A Edey: Two tea pots, tea pot stand, two saucers, and one cup, and one plate.
John Hunt Esq.: Four swords, second 16th century, third 17th century, first early part of 16th century, fourth ditto, cross-bow found in Bosworth Field, waistcoat, time of the Stuarts.
Rev W H Cleaver: Monkeys, rubbing.
Mrs Anne Lee: Snuff box.
Mrs Wale: Snuff box.
Mrs Coltman: Watch.
Mr Macaulay: Grant of Coat of Arms.
Mr J Goodall: Grant of Arms, china mug, shells, twenty coins in tokens, six fossils, one stone, one shell, sword of Charles II, book of sermons.
Rev Thos James, Theddingworth: One Gris de Flandres jug, four rings on a card, one gold medal from Naseby, piece of Bidree ware, Sikh cup engraved in gold, illuminated MS, Koran, in cover, small crystal cup engraved in gold in ivory box, Turkish bowl (red earthenware), silver dorge (Buddhist symbol).
John Phillips: Painting (Murillo), King Charles’ Speech to Parliament, Bible, journal of the commons first sessions after the Revolution, Ephemeide’s Permum &c, tea urn and coffee pot, saddle, fish, and piece of work.
Mr J B Woodford: Two large round plates and two small ones, three dishes, tea pot and two coffee pots, and glasses.
Mr H Taylor: Chair and three pieces of covering, two small coins, one statuette.
Mr Firn: Group of figures 14th century, Roman coin (Victorinus), needlework (Nosely Hall), by the late Mrs Firn, 1804, photograph of the late Mr Flower’s monument (executed by Mr Firn, Mr Goddard artist).
Mr T R Potter: Two rubbings of brasses.
Lavinia Birtles: Two coins and one token of George III, cup and saucer, old shoe, and stomacher.
Mr Edward Bromley: Breeches Bible, two fossils.
Mrs Wade: Curtains and quilt for a cradle.
Mrs Watts, Tur Langton: Two twopenny pieces, three pieces of Maundy money.
Mr Thos Franks: Tobacco box, brass 17th century, military chest for valuables 18th century, lock from the Bastille, Paris, with inside and outside counteracting action, Egyptian tea pot, inkstand from Gibraltar.
Mr Thomas Franks: Collection of seals &c, tobacco box from Senegal, Tull’s Husbandry 1732.
Mr Cayzer: Shilling of Elizabeth, 1572, found in Arnesby parish.
Mrs Townsend, Mowsley: Lady’s white satin dress, early 18th century.
Mrs Birtles (2): Tea kettle, bottle, calendar stones, baby’s cap, stomacher.
Rev F Islip: Martin Luther’s sermons 1521, Foston Church (Mrs Islip), Netley Abbey (ditto), three continental drawings, three engravings by Vivares.
Mr Searancke: Luther’s commentary on Galatians, 1844.
Mr Phillipps: Tea pot, toasting fork, hilt of sword bayonet, bottle, fossil.
Mrs J Underwood: Tea pot, two bowls, jug, saucer.
Miss Weston: Sugar basin, tea pot, cream jug, smelling bottle, shovel, two coins in case.
Mr Allen, Harborough: Fossil fish, copper jug, dagger, fifty-five coins, Breeches Bible, bullet from Naseby, flint implements said to be found near Stamford, copper jug found near Medbourne.
Mrs M Underwood: Punch bowl, brooch, buckle, two pair ear-rings, coin, sword, map, handkerchief.
Mrs Glennester: Knife, seal, six coins, two china bowls, cup and saucer.
Mr Bryant: Punch bowl, three cups and three saucers.
Mrs Islip: Japanese eggshell china, silver and ivory card cases, sandal-wood box, and bracelet, two gold coins Rudolph 2nd, autograph of Livingston, dollar, the Emperor of china’s charm.
Mr H Taylor: Four Hogarth prints, from Nevile Holt.
Mrs Pateman: Brown tea pot, green china tea pot, two blue china sauce boats, cream jug (white, with flowers), china tray with metal stand, portrait of Charles II.
Mrs Hurlbutt, Smeeton Westerby: Horns of buffalo.
T Phillipps Esq.: Twenty-two buckles of various kind, six ear-rings, seven shoes, table.
Rev Robert Baker: Carvings in oak by Rev P Bates, for New College, Oxford.
Mrs Ann Elson: Jug, cup and saucer, fan, box, and scarf.
Miss Watts: Scarf.
Mr Matthews: Dagger.
Mr Goodman, Gumley: Walking stick.
Rev J H Hill: Roman remains, Ovid fifteenth century, 1492, Bernard, Bernalium, St Jerome, 1485, Epiphanius, sixteenth century, Speed’s Chronicle seventeenth century.
John Mason: Russian inkstand.
Mrs Underwood: History of the World, Sir Walter Raleigh.
Mr Stevenson: Road-book 1757, helmet, Britannia Depicta.
Sir Henry Dryden, Bart: Spearhead (found at Canons Ashby).
Mr Calverley: Cabinet Jonathan Jesser pipe.
Eli Atkinson: Four saucers and cups, two coins, and ancient tobacco pipe.
Messrs Nutt, Church Langton: Needlework (Queen of Sheba presenting gifts to Solomon), painting on velvet, velvet from the coffin of Charles I, specimen of china (ancient), ancient lanthorn, knife.
Mr W Price: Carved oak, specimen of china, ancient cushion
Mrs Deacon: Needlework, four china plates.
Mrs Iliffe: Fan, china cups and saucers, seven plates, mug, cream jug, four pictures.
Mrs Wade: Baby’s shoes.
Mrs Goodman, of Smeeton: China of various dates.
Mrs Edey: Baby’s cup eighteenth century.
Mrs Allen: Silk shawl last century.
Mr George Palmer: China plates.
Mrs Packe: Italian heater, two pincushions.
Mr James Smith: Small pocket knife last century.
Mrs Allen: Fifty-five coins in case.
Mary Hackney: Small glass bottle from Palestine.
Mr Loveday: Carving from the screen of Bringhurst Church, encaustic tiles from Kibworth Church.
John Phillipps Esq: Belt, court cupboard.
R Johnson Esq, Saddington: Knife, silver spoon, two Saxon beads, two tradesmen’s tokens.
H Goddard Esq: Glass bottle from Rhodes, two black hawks, two vases from Rhodes.
Rev A Pownall: Large, varied and beautiful collection of coins.
Rev J Davenport: Five encaustic tiles from Skeffington.
G C Neale Esq, Skeffington: Eighteen medals, Carving No. 1 (Spanish), part of a Triptich: No. 2, Adam and Eve (ancient carving), water-colour drawings of Billesdon and Skeffington Churches, previous to their restoration.
Mrs Burgess, of Middleton: Pair of shoes.
Mr Cox: Ancient British mill, canon ball &c.
Mr Jno Coleman: Prussian medal in memory of a victory over the Russians, Aug 28th 1758.
Mr J Underwood: An illumination.
John Phillipps Esq: Queen Elizabeth’s Poem in her own handwriting, signed, Charles II’s autograph for signing the warrant to elect Wm Hanbury Esq, High Sheriff of the county of Northampton, December1665.
Mr S W Cox: Mill-stone, bowl, cannon ball, three bullets, bayonet, knife, spearhead, three tiles, fancy brooch, coins, three books.
Mr Goddard: String of ancient Egyptian beads, from which hangs suspended a small porcelain figure of Osiris, two Greek triptychs, rough olive berries from the Mount of Olives, four Roman lamps, Roman candlestick, and portion of crucible, scented pottery made by the Nuns of Santiago de Chile, 17th century, mug with portrait of Charles II, rudely painted, 1682, Chinese chopsticks, razor and lock, pair of stirrups, key of King Richard III, and a spur gill found 1766, prize carving at Kensington Museum gained by the carver, Mr Henry Reynolds.
Mr William Collins: Two needlework pictures from Sebastopol, Rider’s Almanac 1684, ancient spectacles, christening dress used in 1709, two pairs of ancient slippers.
Sir Henry Dryden: Watercolours of Rousbam House, Oxfordshire, and Canons Ashby House, Northamptonshire.
Rev J M Gresley: Print of a bench end in Nosely Chapel, with a cock (the crest of the Staunton family) at the elbow, of the 15th century, order to pay £1038 9s 0d being for 14 days’ pay of five troops of horse of Sir Arthur Hesillrigg’s Regiment, Dec 31 1659, signed by O Cromwell, order of the Council of State, appointed by Parliament for the repairs of the Vantguard and Swiftsure, signed by Sir Art. Hesilrige, president 5 Feb 1651, value of Kibworth living as now let, Lady-day 1744, the Glebe £323 16s 8d.
Mrs Pateman: Brown tea pot, green china tea pot, two blue china sauce-boats, cream jug (white with flowers), china tray with metal stand, portrait of Charles II artist unknown - supposed to be an original painting.
Mr R Johnson, Saddington: Knife with agate handle (R Johnson), silver spoon (W Hill), two Saxon beads (W Johnson), two tradesman’s tokens (W Johnson).
Messrs Goddard and Son: Kilby Church (framed), Stuckley Lodge (framed), the Grange, East Langton (framed), Ald. Newton’s Charity new schools (framed), West Cotes, new schools (framed), illumination on vellum (framed), Nicholson memorial, memorial to be erected on the Leicester Cemetery, the Jewry Wall, Leicester.
Mr Smeeton: The following oil paintings (framed) - Langton, Langton Hall, Wistow Hall, two Views of Gumley, Kibworth from the Carlton-road, Woodhouse, Caversham Bridge on the Thames, Kibworth.
Mrs Islip: Four continental sketches, Foston Church, Netley Abbey window, three framed engravings by Vivares.
Amongst those whom we noticed in attendance during the meeting of the society were the following:
Rev J H Hill, Cranoe, the honorary local secretary; the following gentlemen who constituted the local committee: Rev M Osborn (chairman), Rev R Fawssett, Rev J Halford, Rev W Cleaver; and Mr W M Marriott, Mr John Marriott, Mr Thomas Macaulay, Mr Grant, Mr Henley, Mr John Phillips, Mr John Underwood, Messrs G C Bellairs and T North, the honorary secretaries; Sir Henry Dryden, Bart, Rev H Newby, Rev J Halford, Rev G E Gillert of Waltham, Rev J Hill, Cranoe, Rev J Fisher, Leicester, Rev T Drake, Mountsorrel, Rev J B Hildebrand, Rev E Tower, Earls Shilton, Rev A Pownall, South Kilworth, Rev Sidney L Smith, Brampton Ash Rectory, Rev H J Bigge, Rockingham, Rev M Osborn, Kibworth, Rev C W Belgrave, North Kilworth, Rev S G Bellairs, Goadby Marwood, Rev R J Allen, Leicester, Rev R S Baker, Hargrave Rectory, Kimbolton, Hon and Rev J F Sandilands, Coston Rectory, Rev F Thorpe, Burton Overy, Rev J M Gresley, Overseile, Rev W H Hughes, Ruslingborough Rectory, Rev J Norris, Tugby, Rev E Trollope FSA, Rev F and Mrs Islip, Kibworth, Rev H V Packe, Shangton, Mrs Packe, Edward Levien Esq MA FSA FRS, Thomas Macaulay Esq, C T Freer Esq, Mr R Overton, Thomas Nevinson Esq, Leicester, J Hunt Esq, Thurnby, J Jacques Esq, Birstal, Samuel Sharpe Esq, Dallington Hall, Alfred Ellis Esq, T Fry Esq, Mr J F Sarson, Leicester, Frederick Jackson Esq, A E Hill Esq, Cranoe, T H Thomson Esq, Leicester, Mr Thomas North, Mr Weatherhead, Mr P Goodyer, Mr Thomas Bunney, W H Gatty Esq, Market Harborough, W F Franks Esq, surgeon, Billesdon, Mr C J Lea, Lutterworth, Mr H D Dudgeon, K Fenton Esq, Mr Thomas Mursell, Leicester, E C Neale Esq, Skeffington, William Johnson Esq, Peatling, W Slater Esq, London, Mr W and Mrs Grant, Mrs Coltman, Smeeton, Mr Firn, Mrs Mercer, Mr William Price, East Langton, Mr H Taylor, Mrs Buzzard, Kibworth, &c.
Manor House Visit, Kibworth Beauchamp
At four o’clock a number of ladies and gentlemen availed themselves of an invitation kindly given to inspect the tapestry at the house of Mrs Buzzard, Kibworth Beauchamp. This was an interesting part of the proceedings. The tapestry, consisting of many square yards, covers the whole of the panelling round the interior of one of the rooms of the second story, and was supposed to be of Flemish design. The subjects were so varied and curious in their character as to puzzle those who tried to ascertain the meaning of them. The date of manufacture was considered, from the peculiar construction of some portions of the house, to be about the end of the 16th century. Only one or two more rooms of this sort are, we believe, at present to be seen. The tapestry was in a fine state of preservation, the figures of men and angels, castles and other buildings being plainly traceable. One portion was thought to depict the family of Darius kneeling before Alexander; others imagined that a figure enthroned represented Sihon, King of the Amorites; again a city was being stormed after a very strange fashion; further on was a figure of a female, supposed to be that of Queen Phillippa, asking some favour regarding soldiers in an adjoining garrison; whilst the last we noticed was the entertainment of three angels by Abraham. In one part letters thought to be SIHON were made out; in another the word LVSEVS puzzled all beholders. Some pieces appeared to have reference to Jewish history. This could not be said of the whole, for, as may be guessed, there were strange anomalies. Mrs Buzzard was entitled to the Society’s thanks, for her kindness in permitting an inspection of work in tapestry so extraordinary.
Tumulus & Manor House, Kibworth Harcourt
The party visited at five o’clock the tumulus. The description of it will be found in our report of the Rev E Trollope’s remarks at the meeting in the evening.
The Manor House, the residence of J Phillips Esq, was visited, and the many objects of interest to antiquarians there afforded much pleasure. Mr Phillips, after a good old English fashion, requested the members of the company to partake of good and homely beverage.
In the evening about forty of the principal gentlemen connected with the Society (whose names are given above) sat down to dinner at the Rose and Crown. Mr William Austin, the host, made admirable provision for his guests.
As soon as the dinner had concluded it was intimated that the time for the opening of the business of the meeting had arrived; and accordingly the company adjourned to the Grammar School, which the Rev J B Hildebrand had kindly placed at the Society’s disposal for the purpose specified. A platform had been erected and upon it some of the leading members took their seats. The room, which was of very small dimensions, was crowded so as to render the heat oppressive, especially to some of the ladies.
Sir Henry Dryden said that the Rector had to take the chair. As he was behind time - a very usual thing he believed in Kibworth - (laughter) - he would call upon Mr Levien to read his paper.
Manors of Kibworth Beauchamp and Harcourt
Edward Levien, Esq, MA, FSA, FRS, then proceeded to give the meeting some account of the Manors of Kibworth Beauchamp and Kibworth Harcourt. He said, - Ladies and Gentlemen, - Although the remarks which I am about to make this evening have in them little or nothing of novelty, still I venture to hope that they may prove of some interest to this meeting, inasmuch as I shall endeavour to embody in them a short account of the parish in which we are now associated.
The first grant, then, of land in the manor of Kibworth, or as it was anciently styled Chiburde, was made in the reign of Edward the Confessor to Edwin Alferd, who also held land at Fleckney and Wistow, and was no doubt the progenitor of the family of Halford, who still reside at the latter named place. At the time of the Domesday survey, the manor was granted to Robertus Dispensator, i.e. Robert the butler or steward, whose name was subsequently transmogrified into Despencer, after a process, - the legality of which we must leave to be settled by the authorities who have recently had so much to say in the matter of Messrs. Bugg, of Bedford, Jones, or Herbert, of Clytha. Whatever may be the law concerning this vexata questio, certain it is that William the Conqueror bestowed lands upon Robert Despencer, as he was then styled, on account of service performed about the royal person; and in 1221 we find that Henry III granted the manor, with certain privileges, to Walter de Bellocamp, or Beauchamp, as chief pantler to the King - the office, according to Littleton, involving the duties of carrying the King’s banner, and acting as his butler, sewer, carver, or such like office, at his coronation.
Afterwards, various members of the Beauchamp family were seized of the manor by the same tenure, until the year 1380, when Phillippa, wife of Guy, Earl of Warwick, deceased, held both the manor and the advowson, on condition of placing a napkin upon the King's table on Christmas Day, the duties of a butler or carver's place having naturally been considered as too onerous to be undertaken by one of the fair sex, especially at a period when the nobility were neither hermits as to their eating, nor teetotallers with respect to their potations. In the year 1384, the Countess Philippa died, and the manor passed to some others, descendants of the Warwick family, concerning whom there is nothing worthy of record, until in 1400 it came to Richard de Beauchamp, who was one of the most renowned and remarkable characters of the period.
He was born at Salworpe, in Worcestershire, on the 28th of January, 1381; and when he was baptised, King Richard ll, and Richard Serope, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield (afterwards Archbishop of York), stood as his godfathers. At the coronation of Henry IV in 1399, he was created a Knight of the Bath, and in the fourth year of his reign, he was appointed by the King to attend him with a body of 100 men at arms, and 300 archers. At the coronation of Joan of Navarre, Henry's second wife, in 1403, he performed many gallant feats of arms at the tournaments and festivities which were held upon the occasion, and soon after served in the army against Owen Glendower, and in the battle of Shrewsbury against the Percies, on both of which occasions he exhibited such personal valour that he assisted very much in sustaining the fortunes of the field, and was soon afterwards made a Knight of the Garter. In 1408 he performed a pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre, an event of which an interesting drawing will be found in this Museum, copied from a MS in the Cottoniburg collection, by my friend the Rev John Hill, of Cranoe, who has kindly deposited it in the collection. On the Earl’s return home through Poland, Russia, Germany, and Italy, he behaved himself so valiantly at several tilting matches in which he engaged, that he was everywhere received with the greatest honour and respect, and established for himself an European reputation for excellence in feats of arms. After his arrival in England, be was, by an indenture bearing date 2nd October, 12th Henry IV, appointed to attend the Prince of Wales - afterwards Henry V - upon all occasions of peace and war, both in this realm and beyond the seas, and all the readers of Shakespeare will remember him not only in the 2nd part of King Henry IV, but also in that glorious speech of Henry V, before the battle of Agincourt, when the King says, -
“Old men forget, yet all shall be forgot.
But they’ll remember with advantages
What feats they did that day. Then shall our names
Familiar in their mouth as household words,
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloster,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by
From this day to the ending of the world.
But we in it shall be remembered.
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile
This day shall gentle his condition.
And gentlemen in England now aged
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhood cheap while any speaks
That fought with us upon St. Crispin’s day.”
This was in 1415; and in 1417, the Earl was sent to France, attended by 10,000 men, to negotiate the marriage between Harry and Catherine, the daughter of Charles VI, of France. While there, he was met by a body of 5000 men, under the Earls of Vendomme and Limourin, which had been sent by the Dauphin to oppose him, on the plea that Henry’s marriage was merely contracted in order to secure to himself the succession to the French crown. The Earl of Warwick engaged this formidable force. Both the generals fell, one of them having been slain by the Earl’s own hand; about 2000 of their troops were destroyed or taken prisoners; and the Earl proceeded on his mission, in which, as it is well known, he ultimately, notwithstanding all the obstacles and difficulties with which he had to contend, entirely and completely succeeded.
In 1422, when Henry VI succeeded to the throne, the Earl of Warwick was made Governor of Calais, under John, Duke of Bedford, as regent of France, and he remained in that country, rendering various important acts of assistance to the English cause during all the troublous times of the maid of Orleans, up to the conclusion of the treaty of Arras, between England and the house of Burgundy, in 1435. Upon the death of the Duke of Bedford, on the 14th of September, in this year, at Rouen, the Earl of Warwick was created Lieutenant General of the realm of France, and of the Duchy of Normandy, which was the highest dignity with which any English subject could be invested. He occupied this distinguished and difficult post with great honour and prudence for four years, and died in possession of it at the castle of Rouen, on the 30th of April, 1439.
After him, his son Henry held the manor, and he also was so distinguished for his martial accomplishments that Henry, in the 24th year of his reign, created him Duke of Warwick, and bestowed upon him various extraordinary honours and privileges, among which was one of being allowed to eat meat at Lent. He granted him also residences out of the counties of Warwick and Leicestershire, for the support of his dignities; declared him King of the Isle of Wight, and actually crowned him with his own hands.
The Duke died in the year 1445, and after him we find Everard Digby, an ancestor of the celebrated Sir Everard and Sir Kenelin Digby, holding lands in Kibworth. The name of this ancient family is said to have originally been Tilton, from their having resided at Tilton in this county, and they are supposed to have altered it upon their going to take up their abode at Digby in Lincolnshire, in 1256. In 1461 Everard Digby was attainted for high treason, and in 1465 the manor fell into the hands of Richard Neville Earl of Warwick, by his marriage with Ann Beauchamp as heir general of the Beauchamp family.
In 1471 the Earl was slain at the battle of Barnet, fighting against Edward II, and the manor having been taken by Act of Parliament from his widow in consequence of her husband’s rebellion, it was given to her daughters Isabel and Anne. Upon their deaths, however, a new Act of Parliament was passed, and this manor, with others which their mother possessed elsewhere, were in 1487 restored to her. In 1492 it came to Edward Lord Lisle by his marriage with Margaret, eldest daughter and co-heir of Richard Earl of Warwick, and he officiated according to ancient custom, as chief pantler at the coronation of Anne Boleyn in 1533. In 1542 John Dudley, Viscount Lisle and Baron Malpas, the then lord, made his servant, Thomas Fisher, high steward of the manor. Dudley was afterwards made Earl of Warwick and Duke of Northumberland, but having lost his life, and all his honours for treason against Queen Mary in 1553, the manor fell to the Crown, and in 1559 Elizabeth granted it to Sir Ambrose Dudley, eldest son to the late Duke by grand serjeanty by the service of acting as royal Pantler in like manner as his father and others of his ancestors, the Earls of Warwick, had held it. In 1589 Sir Ambrose died without issue, having been created Earl of Warwick and a Knight of the Garter, and the manor, therefore, once more reverted to the crown.
We afterwards find it in the possession of Anthony Ward, and in 1602 in that of Rev Dr John Berridge, who also held the advowson. Subsequently to this title the manor and advowson were sold, and in 1728 it was purchased by Sir Richard Halford, who petitioned the Lords Commissioners at the coronation of George II and Queen Caroline to be allowed to act as grand Pantler in consideration of his lordship of the manor.
It was, however, ruled upon this occasion that owing to the manor having been granted to Sir Ambrose Dudley in tail male, and his having died without issue it reverted again to the Crown, and consequently that the claim to the service of pannetry by right of family tenue was extinct. The Halfords have, however, been lords of the manor ever since, although, alas, they are no longer permitted to draw corks at the coronation.
Harcourt was held by various members of the Harcourt family between 1197 and 1347 when the warden and fellows of Merton College, Oxford, held the manor of Sir William de Harcourt in pure and perpetual alms. In 1633 a confirmation was granted to the College of the Manor and all its appurtenances, and in 1771 the advowson was purchased by the society for £3,000.
Having thus briefly endeavoured to sketch the descent of the manors of Kibworth Beauchamp and Kibworth Harcourt from the earliest period down to comparatively modern times, I have only to apologize to you for the necessarily imperfect manner in which my task has been accomplished, and for any errors or omissions which I have made, to beg the indulgence of those who must be so much more intimately acquainted than I, as a stranger, can be, with the history and antiquities of this fertile and most interesting county.
History and Antiquities of Kibworth
The Rev M Osborne, rector of Kibworth, having arrived, then read a paper on the history and antiquities of Kibworth. The paper was listened to with the greatest attention, and we regret that the limits necessarily placed upon our report preclude us from publishing it.
Gothic Architecture in Churches
Mr V Wing, of Melton Mowbray, being unavoidably absent, the paper which he had prepared on Gothic architecture and its requirements was read by Mr T North. He said - ladies and gentlemen, - At the beginning of the present century and for some time previous, our cathedrals, and the great works of antiquity, were placed amongst the “Seven Wonders,” without a thought of any future rivalry: now, however, such immense strides of art and engineering are made, that the time has arrived when it ill becomes us to strike our colours ignobly to a less tutored age. The institution of this and like societies having for its object the promotion of architecture, we have to expand the narrow views that are taken; nor are we to yield to the feeble imputations of absurdity when we propose to emulate the successes of former times. Progress is the rule of life, and it behoves us, gigantic as the task may be, to strive to come up to, and to excel, those who as yet leave us so far behind.
To improve the system in the practical working, and to increase the encouragement, are the two points to be attended to. With this view it is important, in our efforts for the advancement of architecture, to inquire into the secret of its success when it most flourished: we therefore propose to consider the advantages of former periods, with suggestions for the recovering of them. We shall confine ourselves to the Gothic style; and intend to corroborate our remarks with criticisms upon some examples both ancient and modern. This latter part of our paper must form a sequel at a bi-monthly meeting, as time and circumstances forbid its being so extended on the present occasion. The ancient remains which we possess are chiefly ecclesiastical, and they show that an almost incredible amount of interest in the art was sustained for some five centuries; after which the interest subsided, and the indigenous style was abandoned for such as was more or less borrowed and wretchedly insipid in comparison. Now we ask, - What was it that kept up this great architectural movement and secured so great success? And what past advantages, or equivalents, can we regain?
We will name for consideration five things, which we imagine mainly contributed:
1 — The demand for cathedral and abbey and other churches of great splendour.
2 — The fascination of Gothic design.
3 — Seclusion allowing concentration of the architects whole mind upon his work.
4 — No more being carried out under one individual than could receive unlimited attention. 5 — Collective help: valuable suggestions in design being accepted by the chief architect from ecclesiastics or others, including the trained body of free masons, and not rejected as officious; the religions and artistic object overriding every other interest. We venture to say it is not that our professional men are inferior in taste and skill to their forefathers - it is owing to a change in the system and patronage of art - that such prodigious fruits do not now appear; and it devolves upon us to make every effort to recover as much as is practicable of the facilities and helps which we have lost.
1 As to ecclesiastical demand, - which we mention in the first place, - no doubt the feudal system, united with some conscientious feeling of duty on the part of the lords of the soil, was favourable to pecuniary supplies, whilst peculiarities in religious ceremonies and religious life rendered imposing edifices a matter of all absorbing consideration; and we do not expect, nor do we wish for, a return of such times, - (as one of our poets has it in an exquisite effusion on the “Ruins of Kendal Castle”), -
“Times of rude faith, and ruder men -
God grant they never may come again!”
But we hope to succeed without those auspices. A sense of what the houses of God ought to be in priority over the dwellings of men is all that in required, and that is reviving amongst us: instances are not entirely wanting, where the mansions, or superb “ceiled houses” as the lament of the prophet expresses it, are surpassed, as they should be, by the costly character of the temple. To this quarter - the church - it is not only right still to look, but we are compelled to do so; for it is not sufficient, in the higher interests of architecture, that secular public buildings and domestic structures be required: the church is infinitely the best sphere; and until the erection of magnificent and gorgeous ecclesiastical edifices comes again into vogue, encouragement to architecture cannot recover its full proportions. We know it will be said, - having as a nation done with monastic establishments and gorgeous ceremonial, the scope for such grandeur is gone.
Still, we demur to the inference, and we aver that it is not idle to contend for, at least, the erection of cathedrals of great magnificence. This we must insist upon, much as the contrary impression may prevail; and we can do so on principle as well as in the interest of art. We recommend to be read Mr Beresford Hope’s "Cathedral of the Nineteenth Century.” The notion is erroneous that our protestant ritual is so precise and simple that it forbids altogether imposing processions; the inspired sentiment of the Hebrew Psalmist teaches better. Much less can it be said, that our principles are so ultra-puritan, that the “sublime and beautiful” of the cathedral are incompatible with Anglican worship. What man, having taste united with his piety, ever found it to be so? Who would not deplore the loss of those noble buildings which we possess? Who would condemn the efforts expended on the modern Cathedral of St Paul's? Who would not like to see the insufficient ones of Manchester and Oxford exchanged for better? - Or, with the demanded extension of the episcopate, a corresponding provision for the highest solemnities of our religion in the new dioceses? The procession and the large gathering at an ordination, at a visitation, or confirmation, or on any other great occasion, so much aided in effect by cathedral grandeur with its concomitant sublime tones of music, are not empty pomp pandering to a pseudo religious feeling, but legitimately impress the mind and heart that the spiritual benefit may be the more lasting. Nor, independently of this, is vacant space in the cathedral a waste, as we hear it objected. The nave as a spacious avenue is most effective for solemnity: the house of God naturally symbolises heaven, the dwelling-place of the Infinite, and is not necessarily a mere pale for a congregation. The influence of immensity is felt to be not a little potent, and that even in the ordinary services. Witness the confessions of those great men, Milton and Robert Hall, to which even their unecclesiastical spirits were constrained to give utterance. The former, referring to cathedral architecture with the “pealing organ,” has the glowing lines,“Dissolve me into ecstasies,
And bring all heaven before mine eyes.”
And the latter remarked that “he could not enter York Minster without the sublimest and most devout imaginations pouring into his mind.” Equally fallacious is the objection, that higher claims would have their support diverted. Our ideas may seem large to those who are not prepared for the demand we make, and they may be greatly distant from realization; but it is little more than a dream of despondency, arising out of the niggard spirit in honouring our Great Creator, that at present represses noble aspirations. England’s elder university rests content with a provisional cathedral! – an interesting antiquity, but a priory fragment, and little better than a village church! Could we but stir up the people to it, and combine in a new one at Oxford the Continental grandeur with the English superiorities - the high vault of Amiens, with the higher lantern, the spacious transept, and “the long-drawn aisle” of York – it would produce a consciousness of national advance and universal congratulation. Nor is there occasion for despair: individuals are found now whose offerings to church architecture amount to the hundred thousand; and, with the rapid increase of the country’s wealth, it is but reasonable to bespeak this standing acknowledgement and honour to the Giver of our substance.
Such becoming employment of the highest class of talent would go far to guarantee to architecture the culmination to be aimed at for edifices of transcendent magnificence are necessarily very many years in hand, and their erection would furnish what the art most needs, namely, an enduring field for its highest cultivation. On the contrary, if cathedral building is to be passed off as visionary, it is equivalent to quitting in despair: the very sphere required being abandoned, antiquity will only mock the modern architect’s attempts at rivalry. In the promotion of architecture then, our views must be expanded in reference to the Church; the Church must not be left, as it is, in dwarfed proportions, but partake of the general progress. We ought no longer to allow the huge tavern to be looking down on the steeples of our churches! And we hesitate not to say, - if our attainments in the art are to equal those of the ancients, if we are to resuscitate its bygone splendour, and bequeath to far-off generations equal monuments of our times, magnificent cathedrals and churches must, as formerly, furnish the leading encouragement. To this then it behoves us to stir up the people. We have the superiority in wealth, in intelligence, in mechanical power, and in advantages generally, together with purer inducements, why are we not in this chief sphere, as in others, aroused to surpass our less favoured predecessors?
2 The next thing we have to allude to is, the fascination experienced by those who designed the structures of the Middle Ages. The extreme pleasure afforded to them is seen unquestionably in the effects. And on this it is unnecessary to dwell, for we doubt not that it will be felt again in a similar degree, if the unlimited opportunities of indulging it return. The sphere itself has no bounds: if the seven notes in music are found inexhaustible, the combinations in Gothic art must be as much so. Be it that a peculiar charm would accompany when all was new; yet, notwithstanding, if the means and demand be presented, the gifted practitioner, finding no limit to his encouragement, will have the same fascination in design as formerly, and revel in a luxury that will never satiate. Those only who have a true taste for it know its untiring interest. As far as the pleasure in the work is essential in order to recover the success of former times, all is assuring, provided that equal munificence can be called forth.
3 We have in the third place to consider, that formerly the whole mind of the man of genius was, in a manner, concentrated unremittingly on his creations. We may imagine how some Peter Lightfoot, or cloistered monk, would pursue uninterruptedly his avocation, as if he lived only to beautify his abbey church; or the aesthetic brilliancy that would be brought to bear from some archbishop devoted to the work, as William de Melton, it may be, during the rise and progress of the nave of York Minster. In this respect past advantages are not to be recovered, for we cannot ask for each seclusion again; but we submit the question, - Can we in our great works, upon the adoption of a more perfect practice and study, obtain its equivalent? If less were undertaken in order that increased attention might be given, possibly equal excellence in design might be attained to; but the difficulty is in the compensation, which must be so regulated as to admit of the application.
4 This brings us, in the fourth place, to inquire more particularly into the system of practice in the olden time, which gave a circircimscribed and a more fixed sphere of labour to the responsible architect. Upon this somewhat obscure subject we cannot enter without first briefly referring to an institution which has its bearing on more than one point before us, we mean Freemasonry; not in the form it has existed in since its revival at the beginning of the 17th century, but in its mediaeval system. Much secrecy and mystery attended it, which partly accounts for the obscurity in which history leaves us as to architects and their operations. We know, however, that from a very early date there was an organised fraternity of masons, who, from travelling and observation, as well as practice, gained intelligence, and by well devised plans, communicated the benefit to their whole body as far as practicable; the members constituting an order, partly religious, in some sort, and partly professional, with one object and interest in common.
The importance which architecture then possessed as an art can scarcely be over-rated: for which reason the organisation was fostered by the clergy, the rearing of religious structures was allowed to be monopolised by the freemasons, and it is a fact that ecclesiastics were frequently associated, which circumstances render more intelligible the zeal of the masons, both in accumulating, and in confining to themselves, the knowledge of their art. It is also evident, from the curious correspondence in the details of work, that the organisation was very complete; and, as it is to be inferred from the remains of structures of the later period of the Roman empire, from a universal similarity of arrangement, that there was a central control, the same principle may have been transferred from Roman usage.
The silence of history leaves us very much to conjecture concerning the main agents in the erection of our ancient edifices. The rearing of them, as a trade, would be in the hands of the freemasons, (that name implying workers in freestone, or freestone masons), and much would depend on the wardens, who were the foremen of parties of ten of them, and upon the masters; but in a great undertaking some presiding man of genius, whose skill alone qualified him, must have had the chief control. Priests possessing a taste for it were not only associated in freemasonry, but really initiated, and from that class sometimes would arise the pre-eminent architect.
Architectural ability, indeed, seems to have worked its way to this position by association with, or development amongst, the freemasons. With the mysteries and emblems that have come down through this channel, even from the Egyptians and Grecians, our enquiry has no concern; but it is material to note that the secrets of the masonic art, whilst confined to themselves, were disseminated unreservedly amongst that body. Selfish ambition and jealousy would thereby be obviated; every man of taste could enter the association, and thereupon his suggestions became the common stock of that fraternity, available to the architect, who would be associated with them in his labours.
In proceeding: to consider the limited sphere of the chief architect, we have to note how originality in design was prized as a principle item of merit. For, in contemplating the extraordinary productions of the Middle Ages in the better period, one is struck with the variety and the prolific invention. How diverse is York cathedral from Lincoln for example; how unlike are both to Ely; and so on to Salisbury, Wells, and almost all others. Now this indicates as many chief architects as varieties, and the sphere of labour accordingly limited. It would be a historical problem, to find the same architect to have been the designer of many cathedrals; rather was he engaged only for what he could entirely devote himself to. And, unless similar advantages can be secured, it is vain to look for equal originality and beauty in modern productions. Is it possible then, we are tempted to ask, in anyway to bring about a change in the present system? To apportion in some degree, for instance, to leading architects what is more strictly design only; relieving them much of the constructional responsibilities, and giving such compensation as would command their time more exclusively for the important part devolving upon them? This is a question, which, we are aware, the profession only are competent to grapple with; but as those great attainments to which we aspire seem in some measure dependant upon it, we shall not be out of place in pressing it on public attention.
We conceive such a change is not altogether impracticable. Progress has, in the present century, completed a separation of the labours of the architecture from those of the builder; a diversion has been made too in favour of the civil engineer; and we may suppose that a further subdivision of labour in the highest sphere is within the range of possibility. Or we may ask the question, - Can the labours of leading men in any other way be lessened? At present anyone, whose brilliant attainments have raised him to eminence, has his reward in a killing amount of work, whereby one great genius, at least, has already fallen a victim: only the same percentage is paid as to the inexperienced. How much better would justice be done on both sides, if, instead of advantage being obtained by the ablest men in the extent of their employment, it were given in increased percentage: this might secure the necessary limitation of labour, and therewith more satisfactory results.
It must be evident, that they, whose works are to endure in a manner for all time - being ecclesiastical and national, or of the first class - can only receive and do justice when the opportunity of sufficient application is secured to them: unlimited application carried the day formerly, and without it equal success is not attainable. In a small way, France seems to be taking the lead in this matter: there, “some architects having private property of their own, only make use of their professional acquirements, in the carrying out of the design of one or more tombs, either for their friends or for some great personage: a tomb being regarded by French architects as the highest possible ideal of the art.” It is, we apprehend, mainly a question of large and adequate compensation. If so, to obtain it, we must look to a greater appreciation of design; this will advance in proportion as a general taste is cultivated; and whilst the effect of such cultivation will be also a corresponding improvement in the art, success in design will attract attention and reciprocally encourage the cultivation of taste. Then, if the movement be fairly commenced, such is the disposition of the various influences to run in the same current, that we need not despair of a revolution that will eventually advance architecture again to its supremacy in the school of arts; and the results will leave vestiges, which will command for us an honourable position in the estimate of succeeding generations. The munificent offer for designs for the Liverpool Exchange may be regarded as a good experiment, and encourages what we have ventured to advocate.
5 Lastly, it has been intimated that in medieval practice help was acceptable to the architect from any quarter. There must have been encouragement to, and ingenuousness in receiving suggestions. At all events, the chief architect would accept them from his ecclesiastical employer, whether an associated mason or not, in many cases; and in others, where the ecclesiastic might be chief, he would be on terms of candid partnership with his masons.
In present circumstances, the amateur part of our question is difficult to be brought to bear, and delicate to broach; but it is necessarily connected with the subject, for the part borne by the amateur in the old system is a leading feature. That formerly Wykenham and others, not professed architects, had their fingers in work which is now held in such rapturous admiration can scarcely be denied. Alan de Walsingham, the sacrist at Ely, became architect of the cathedral, and after the fall of its centre gave it its culminating grandeur. A bishop of Noyon was originally an artisan, and rose to that eminence from his skill as a goldsmith. Other examples might be referred to, but these are sufficient to show how, in those days, the interests of the church, excluding considerations of personal fame, gave to skill and taste an open door. Assistance then was accepted wherever merit recommended it, and taste was invited in whatever brain it existed appetite for beauty, together with religious zeal, having sway over every other feeling. The bishop with the clergy around him and a troop of freemasons would form a college of arts; eager, not only to devise, but to obtain from every source whatever would tend to the adornment of splendour of their cathedral.
It is true that circumstances are now very different: we live not in a recluse, but in a mercantile age, and the trade element is perhaps unavoidably too preponderating to give free course to the practice of art. We shall venture to say, however, that the crudeness which attends the amateur need not make his suggestions contraband now any more than formerly; and in recovering past advantages does it not enter into the question, what auxiliary service he can be useful for. Can this suggestive element, if we may call it so, any way re-enter, and the amateur again take his part? - Or, in other words, can we have a benefit by adopting some plan for taking advantage of the drawings of non-professional persons, when anything new and valuable occurs to them. If institutions for exhibiting and rewarding designs were candidly open to amateurs in competition with others; whilst every advantage would still remain with the educated architect, exceptionally an amateur might he brought forward, and, not, “born to blush unseen,” quit his false position and join the profession. Taste has its occasional inspirations in the rough, and sometimes of the richest quality, possibly, without the pale of professional cultivation. Provided amateurs could, - not by botching on their own account, but in some legitimate way, - be made useful, it would moreover tend as much as anything to that general diffusion of taste, which is the only atmosphere in which the profession can vitally prosper.
As a polite accomplishment, architecture to some extent, (we refer to artistic design only), admits of private pursuit like other fine arts; and it is important to remark, that the public, since they have the patronage, should be adequately educated that they may better exercise it. The medieval system, like the ocean, received the stream from every channel; and if architecture for its own sake is to be promoted, - if a general taste is to be fully cultivated, and the attainments in this age rival the past, - whilst the responsibilities rest with the profession, the practical study of art, it would seem, should be open to all who are capable of it, and, in a subordinate form, non-professional help again become tributary.
Upon reviewing the circumstances that favoured architecture in times gone by, it must be owned that the difficulties of competing with antiquity are great. The advantages grasped by the art were more than peculiar – human faculty was then in a manner sold to it: in the dark ages we see genius arbitrarily extinguished save in one phase; and the whole light of the intellectual firmament at that time may be regarded as absorbed from others to be concentrated on this subject. We can point to a hundred years, in which about a hundred abbey and cathedral churches of first class character were erected in this country, when it possessed but a tithe of the present population and means.
Now, the modest demand for only one such cathedral to recommence with may be too much to be realised; and, if so puny is the revival of Gothic architecture. Without going to medieval extremes, to impart the necessary feeling is no small matter: for not the despotic potentate and feudal lords nor a paramount hierarchy, but a whole people have to be moved to do themselves credit. Yet, notwithstanding, the present age having the ability demanded, with far greater wealth, greater facilities for travelling, and various better helps for acquiring intelligence and proficiency, we ought not to succumb to the past. And if taste received only the utmost rational fostering and encouragement, it is not presumptuous to say that, instead of being behind, we might hope to distance our forefathers in the new race of architectural development.
Kibworth’s Mound or Tumulus
The Rev Canon Trollope then stepped forward in order to give an account of the tumulus, which had been pronounced to be undoubtedly Roman, and not all humbug, as some supposed. The mound, as they were well aware, had been excavated, and the result was that a number of articles had been found, which were quite Roman in their character.
He had seen it remarked that it was necessary, in order that thorough information on any subject should be imparted, that the speaker should be intimately acquainted with it. He confessed, however, at the beginning, that in the present case he knew very little about the matter; and for that reason he ought perhaps not to have been called upon to address them. However, he felt that it desirable that the degree of information possessed by any one with regard to this or any other kindred subject which they might have before them should be made known, and accordingly he had undertaken to speak upon it.
Whether there had been any local traditions current in that parish, he was not aware; but thought probably that there might have been from one amusing statement which had come before his notice. One set of mounds had been termed “The Bully Hills”, because there was a report that in days of old, a certain man conceived that there was a great treasure under each of them, and on determining to search for the same he dug and found an enormous stone - a stone so big, indeed, that it required five or six men, and the strength of six or seven bulls, to tear it from its place. The chain which was used in pulling broke, and the stone thereupon sank down into the hole in the middle of the mound with great force, and was never seen again. (Laughter.) When he visited the tumulus that day it was in a very plashy condition; it was raining very hard at the time, and it was like putting your foot into the middle of a hasty pudding. (Loud laughter.) From what he was able to observe it seemed as though the tumulus was an annular or ring mound; and also that it was funereal, for there was evidence of some bodies having been burnt, and the discovery of a great number of bones.
Now, great facts were discovered by very little circumstances. Such was so in this case. They had no doubt seen a basket which had been handed round in that meeting, as though it contained apples, nuts, and ginger beer (laughter); it did not, however, contain anything so important or so refreshing, but pieces of pottery, bones, and other articles. One of those pieces of pottery was quite sufficient to convince him - and he thought any antiquarian who had studied such remains - of the character of the place they had visited. On looking at that specimen (which he held in his hand) some of them might swear that it was simply a red bit of pot. (Laughter.) It might appear, however, to some like a bit of a Roman vessel. There was a remarkable rim round it, and it possessed all those valuable qualities to be found in what was called Samian ware, a piece of which it was. As they knew, this ware derived its name from Samos, and was much used in the time of the Romans: it was not manufactured in any part of Leicestershire or in England. They, therefore, came to the conclusion that the tumulus where this Samian ware was found was a Roman place of burial. They also found portions of other ware, such as glass, and a number of teeth. Many of these teeth belonged to pigs, which the Romans in those days, as well as the English in the present, were very fond of. Having arrived at the conclusion that the place was one for burial, they would wonder how it was that pig’s teeth and parts of eating or drinking utensils should be there, for dead men did not want to eat and drink!
It should he stated on that point that when the Romans died, their bodies were, during the earlier portion of that period, burnt. It was probable that the bodies of the occupants of that mound were burnt, and their dust scraped together, placed in the vases, (broken pieces of which they had found), and so deposited. It was impossible to say what might be the character of person whose grave they supposed was in that tumulus. He might have been a Roman soldier, or a Colonist, for some of the Romans after subduing our forefathers betook themselves to farming. Underneath (he did not see this, but was informed of it by a gentleman connected with them) two pieces of a sort of pavement, not exactly tesserae, but water worn pebbles, were discovered - one being higher than the other, and suggesting that there the fires might have been kindled for the burning of the bones, and that there might have been a double burial. No oyster shells had been found; a bodkin and an iron nodule (exhibited that day as soon as dug up) and other articles had been procured. He was desired to say something about them, before he had seen the articles in question. It was difficult to speak upon those things which had been found on account of the imperfect knowledge which could be had of them: still more difficult would it be, as his friends proposed for him, to speak of and describe those things which he had not seen. (Laughter and cheers.)
True Restoration in Church Architecture
Sir H Dryden said it was rather warm that evening, it was getting late, and he felt sure they would not want him to say much. He had brought there for their inspection a few drawings relating to church architecture which he thought might be interesting. Those societies were termed antiquarian, and were for the purpose of enabling gentlemen to study architecture. That architecture was generally so far as it was connected with the church.
All antiquarians were interested in Church Architecture. Had the thought ever occurred to any of them as they passed through the country “What would these old churches say if they could speak?” He thought that they would say “We have faced and will face our enemies, but may the Lord deliver us from our friends. (Loud Laughter.) Yes, if they could, methinks they would with their gray hairs hang down their hoary heads and soliloquise “We once had some good friends who built us and ornamented us; but then there came some fellows who pretended to be our good friends who damaged us. (Laughter.) Those fellows reckoned that they had much sympathy with us, and felt kindly disposed towards us, but they were our great enemies, for instead of damaging us they had better have knocked us down altogether, and built us up again so that we could have braved, as we have done before, the wind and weather.” (Laughter.) As Shakespeare he believed said –
Blow, blow, thou winter’s wind
Thou art not so unkind,
As winter’s gratitude.
It was very evident from a look at these churches that people had not been very careful with their adornments. Some figures had their noses, and others their fingers, knocked off, and a disposition had been shown akin to that of boys now a days of pelting at and breaking the window glass. Indeed, so great had been the damage in this respect to these edifices of late years, and so much had they been patched, and what was termed restored (which was no restoration at all, because they destroyed all the old features which they meant to preserve), that he was not surprised at a friend of his saying, “I wonder that the earth does not open and swallow all the antiquarian societies and architects in England." (Roars of laughter.) He would not tell them who that was who said so. (Laughter.)
The Church in general was in a soporific state twenty years ago, and it was very easy to see that there must even be a certain amount of damage done in order to get them properly attended to. (Hear, hear, and laughter.) Sir Henry declared that nobody had a right to destroy the old churches in any way any more than Mr Levien, who had charge of the ancient MSS in the British Museum, had a right to burn them; they were for the public well being, and should be preserved in their integrity. The churches especially, for they, more than the MSS could at all times be read by anybody as they going along the road. Castles, houses and churches, formed a history in themselves if left as they stood originally. The foreigner was attracted by the churches. He contended that nobody had any right to destroy the churches any more than a gentleman had a right to melt down his family plate. (Laughter.) Would they not think that Sir A G Hazlerigg was a barbarous man if when they visited him, as he expected they should do on the morrow, they found that he had melted his family plate. (Roars of laughter.)
He maintained, therefore, that they had no moral right to mutilate, to mess, or to restore their old churches. What they called restoring, when they came to deal with a church, he called unredeemable destruction. If they would give 20 millions of pounds they could not put in the east end of a church as it originally stood, after doing what they called the restoring. That part was lost; lost for ever: a part of the history of that church was gone, and could not be recovered. Restoration was to put a thing in the state it once was; but he thought that he should have all the antiquarians and all the historians in England on his side, when he said that, viewing the matter in the sense of preserving the history of the past, they had no right to restore those churches. They destroyed so much of the ancient history of the place when they removed one and added another piece of architecture. Sir Henry continued his remarks in this strain, and closely criticised some of the recent improvements by architects.
At the conclusion of his address, a vote of thanks, on the motion of Mr James Thompson, of Leicester, seconded by Mr S Sharp, FGS, of Dallington Hall, was accorded to the essayists and speakers.
On the motion of the Rev M Osborne, thanks were voted to the exhibitors. The proceedings of the first day thus concluded.
The Excursion Day
Wednesday was more especially looked forward to on account of the pleasure which it was anticipated would be afforded the members in making a tour in the neighbourhood to visit the different churches, and to discuss their architectural features, to point out and eulogise their beauties, and to endeavour to correct their deformities. The weather fortunately cleared up, and the business was opened under more cheerful circumstances than might have been expected. The carriages, which at the outset from the Rose and Crown, Kibworth, were six in number, were increased to a dozen or eighteen on the route, and the party, which consisted of about forty at the earliest period, was augmented in the various villages through which the Society passed, until about two hundred belonged to it. Mr Hames, of Leicester, provided the horses and vehicles, and attended the party on horseback along the whole of the route, acting as pioneer, and giving general directions to the drivers and postmen, the latter of whom (two leading off four horses with the first carriage, and one the second) were dressed as usual in scarlet jackets, light breeches, and top boots. A bugler sounded the different calls, so that time was well kept in stopping, alighting, and resuming.
Amongst those who formed the party at the outset or joined it on the route, were Lord Berners, Sir Arthur G, Lady, and the Misses Hazelrigge, Sir Frederick Fowke, Bart, Sir Henry Dryden, Dean of Waterford, Ven. Archdeacon Fearon, Ven. Archdeacon Moore, Canon Trollope; Mr Levien, British Museum, London; Mr Slater, London; Rev H J. Bigge, and party, Rockingham: Rev C W Belgrave, North Kilworth; Rev A Pownall, South Kilworth; Rev F Thorpe, Burton Overy; Captain Bellairs; Captain Freer, Leicester; Mrs Freer; Rev J and Mrs Norris, of Tugby; Mr T North honorary secretary, Southfields, Leicester; Rev F Johnson; Hon. and Rev J Sandilands; Rev J H Hill; Mrs and Misses Hill and party, Cranoe; Rev E Tower; Rev J Fisher; Rev S G Bellairs; Mr Hunt, of Thurnby; Rev M Osborn, Kibworth; Mrs Hanbury, Church Langton; Mrs Jones, Northampton; Mr and Mrs Gatty; Mr Cox, Market Harborough; Mr and Mrs Shields, Uppingham; Mr and Mrs Taylor, Leicester; Mr Charles Freer, Billesdon Coplow; Mr Franks, Billesdon; J Neale Esq, Skeffington; Rev R Isham, Lamport; Mr Gilson, Uppingham; Mrs Gilson, Uppingham; Captain Lowndes; Mrs Bell; Misses Hazlewood; Mr Millican, Leicester; Mr Firn, Leicester; Messrs Goddard, Leicester; Mr Ordish; Major Chester; Rev W Cleaver, Kibworth; Rev R Fawssett; Rev John Halford; Messrs W M Marriott, John Marriott, Thomas Macaulay, Grant, Henley, Phillips, and John Underwood (of the local Committee); Mr Deakins, Lutterworth; Mr James Thompson, Leicester; Mr Weatherhead, curator Leicester Museum; and others whose names are mentioned in the foregoing part of the proceedings.
The first place to be visited was Thorpe Langton, distance about four miles, and to it the procession moved from Kibworth shortly before nine o'clock. The views of the fine open tract of country which were to be obtained, the fresh and healthful air, and the chit chat of friends, made the journey interesting and beneficial. Canon James it was expected would have described the places visited. In his unavoidable, and much to be regretted absence, Canon Trollope kindly undertook the task, and performed it in a manner which was regarded with pleasure by those whom he addressed.
On arriving at the church at this place, Canon Trollope remarked that he was sorry to say that he had to announce the absence of Canon James, the state of whose health preventing him attending and making such observations he had intended that day. He had been requested to fill his place, and would endeavour to do so as well as he was able. He believed that the first thing necessary was a knowledge of the subject in presuming to address an assembly like that. He knew that there were others who, in that respect, would have no doubt been better able to treat upon the matter; but having been selected, he would make such observations as arose to him as worthy of being brought before them, and leave others to ask further questions or make additions.
They would have noticed, in connection with the church in which they were met - at least, when they were outside, and could view the exterior - the character of the tower and spire. They were of the first pointed, or early English period. The spire was very dumpy, sat well, and did its work well. The pinnacles had not a good appearance when seen from the distance, but when they came near to them they looked better. The tower arch was of the same period as the tower itself - Early English. The edifice generally was rebuilt during the 14th century, and was a good specimen of the Decorated church. The two arcades and windows behind, were of the same period. They would not have failed to observe the beautiful ball flowers on the capitals. There was also great fineness and variety as the tracery of the windows, one being of the intersected lancet period.
He noticed the alterations near the chancel, and said it could not be affirmed whether there had been a chancel arch or not before they were carried out. - [The Rev Mr Hill pointed out marks which led to the belief.] - Canon Trollope said there seemed to have been a chancel arch, and that during the rebuilding, the clerestory was destroyed. He regarded that as an unfortunate feature. The long line of roof was anything but desirable - not at all a pretty feature. The pulpit - when they set aside its other adjuncts - was well fitted for the purpose. The whole design was good and worthy of attention. The font, which was of a late period, was a good one. The ornamentation of the stem he considered of good type, and worthy of being copied. The bench ends were remarkable for their solidity - a quality which they should endeavour to ensure in their churches, where the idea of permanence should be uppermost. They appeared to be of the Jacobean pattern - probably the time of James the First, and were singular for their shallow carving.
The fitting in of the windows was remarkable. Most likely such had been the result of an after-thought, when it was perceived advisable to have more light. He was glad to hear that the church was likely to be restored before long. He hoped the necessary steps would be taken, the means forthcoming, and the work successfully carried out. There was a great deal to be done. He hoped it would be done on the principles which such societies as those recommended. He regretted the absence of Mr Hanbury, the incumbent, who would have welcomed the society, had he been present in accordance with his wish.
The Rev Canon James thus described this church in some notes which he had prepared: - Thorpe Langton is a chapelry of Church Langton. The Church, consisting of a nave of three bays, with north and south aisles and chancel, is dedicated to St Leonard. I fear the most interesting of the Churches to be visited today comes first on the list. The whole Church, which is of one date, is an excellent example of the Early Geometrical Decorated of the 14th century. The tower might, at first sight, appear somewhat earlier, but probably the whole church was built at the same time. The proportions and tracery of the windows are remarkably good. In the head of several of the windows are fragments of painted glass coeval with the windows, and with which they were originally glazed. Every fragment of this should be most religiously preserved, and each bit restored to its proper place.
The great defect of the interior is the want of a chancel arch. This, no doubt, originally existed, but in the 15th century, when the high pitched roofs of the earlier style (the old story!) had become decayed, the repairers probably found the gable over the chancel arch inconveniently in their way, and wishing to make a “neat job” of it, and carry the clerestory and roof right through at the same level, they disannulled the gable and arch altogether, and left no other separation between nave and chancel than the rood skreen, the base of which still exists, and which is of this later date. The staircase to the rood loft also yet remains, entered from the south aisle. The pitch of the old roof before the clerestory was added may yet be seen against the east wall of the tower. Though, in restoring this church, I would not re-insert a chancel arch, yet I could mark the distinction of the chancel by bringing down one of the principals of the roof in this spot, so as to form a wooden arch of a marked character.
Other noticeable features in this church are, the font, placed in its present position probably at the time of the great repairs of the 15th century, of which date it is, and the very beautiful and not common arrangement of the steps in the form of a cross; the pulpit, which is of same date; and a very early and simple panelled bench end, near the north entrance. There are several open seats on the south of Jacobean pattern. I sincerely hope that the restoration of this church may be a conservative one; that the font, pulpit and base of the rood skreen may be preserved; the stalls in the chancel repaired, and made the model for the chancel fittings; and that the back bench referred to may be retained, and the new seats made to follow that pattern. The small number to be provided for will not necessitate crowding the church with seats, and ample passages may be left; the tower arch will of course be opened, the modern west doorway blocked up, and new tracery inserted in the east window; but I hope the rest may be as little tampered with as possible, and the windows left as they are, even if some of the tracery has got a little askew.
Above all, I hope that there will be no scraping and pointing of the outside. The walls are now rich with the lichens of five centuries, and no possible amount of restoration could compensate for the beauty which this church would lose by the removal of this delicate time-painting. If the joints are to be raked out and fresh pointed after the most approved modern fashion, the great external interest of this church will be gone. If any one wishes to compare an ancient with a modern wall, please to keep this church in mind when you look at the smart black mortared pointing in the new aisle of Tugby chancel. If the societies feel with me on this point, I trust they will express a strong opinion thereon. Fortunately, the gentleman into whose hands this church is likely to be committed is an antiquarian, as well as an architect.
The party then proceeded to
Canon Trollope again observed the regret he experienced in the absence of Canon James, who was to have described that edifice. In the first place they would have noticed, when outside, the massive perpendicular and lofty tower. The masonry, he believed, was particularly good; that was a feature which they might well be proud of. The rest of the church required some dissection.
The earliest feature in the window at the end of the south aisle was of the geometrical period. He saw no other window so early. The next was the early decorated period. During the perpendicular period the greater part of the church was rebuilt. One of the windows, as they would see, was very much debased, and might have been put in at a later period. On the north outside of the chancel there were evidences of a little chapel, and the remains of an external piscina.
Although the place had been rebuilt, there were remains of the 14th century. Thomas de Langton was commemorated by one. It seemed, however, he was sorry to say, that they had not scrupled to steal one of these tombs. That was a practice common in the days of their predecessors, he hoped, however, that it never would be in 19th century. A Knight of the name of Richard Roberts had taken one at the tombs, and his effigy remained at the top. The name of Langton was great. There was an inscription that showed that there was the tomb of Thomas de Langton. But still greater were the members of the family of Langton as connected with that parish namely Walter de Langton who was Lord High Treasurer, and who was consecrated Bishop Lichfield, and died in 1321. His effigy still remained in St Mary's Chapel, in Lichfield Cathedral.
There was another great name connected with that parish, - a name happily still known, - that of Hanbury, grandfather of the present incumbent. He conceived a scheme of unusual magnitude, and to be carried out with great magnificence for the good of that parish. His ideas were of a lofty character. He wished to build there a cathedral church on a grand scale, a university, schools, and a hospital for the poor, and to establish a great variety of professorships and a printing press. They could not but be surprised that these extraordinary intentions had not been carried out; that parish had, however, benefitted in part by those intentions although they were swiftly cut short.
Three of the bells of the parish church were the gift of Thomas Hanbury. Unfortunately he died before his wishes could be consummated, the provision for which was to come according to his estimation from an extensive plant of fruit and forest trees. Still there were the remains of large fortunes which were expected to realise his hopes and sums of money, which it was intended and he hoped would yet prove of great benefit to the neighbourhood and parish of Langton. His golden vision seemed to have been indicated by the colour of the interior of the mausoleum. He directed in his will that it was to be lined with stucco and painted with gold colour. The coffin, however, was to be covered with black velvet, and that might refer to the disappointment of his original scheme. They would feel they owed a debt of gratitude to one whose intentions were so excellent, and intended to accomplish an extraordinary a work in the parish with which he was connected. The bench ends: the Jacobean font cover; and the alms box were curious. The latter he particularly hoped would be preserved, He trusted also that others would follow somewhat in the steps of Mr Hanbury.
The following remarks upon the church named were to have been made by Canon James:
Church Langton is the mother church of Thorpe Langton and Tur Langton, and contains within itself East and West Langton. From this place sprung Walter de Langton, Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, in 1295. He a great favourite of Edward 1st, and benefactor to his cathedral. He died in 1321, and his monument is still seen in Lichfield Cathedral. We might possibly connect him with this church and that of Thorpe Langton; but if the inscription, described by Burton, is correct, we may assume Thomas de Langton as the founder at least of the mother church. Under the monumental arch of the north aisle of this church was originally a monument with the inscription –
“Ora pro anima Thomae de Langton.”
The existence of another arch, identical in character, in the south aisle, may possibly point to a joint founder. In this arch is now interpolated, after the fashion of the day, an effigy, with arms and inscription, notifying that Sir Richard Roberts, Knight, aged 80, is buried here, with the date 1644. This is at least 300 years later than the arch which contains it.
The nave, it will be seen, consists of four bays, the outer walls being all of the 14th century; but in the 15th century, the whole of the piers and arches have been swept away, and the present arcade, clerestory, and roofs inserted. At the same time, the eastern windows of the aisle have replaced decorated windows of a far better character than the present debased specimens. The chancel was probably of much the same date, though nothing of the 14th century now remains, but the three Sedilia and Piscina, and the door originally opening into the vestry. Bits of the original 14th century glass remain here, as in Thorpe Langton, and deserve the greatest care. Some of the old seats remain of a late type. The font is a plain specimen of the 15th century, with Jacobean cover. There is also an old alms box, of Jacobean date, which should not be thrown away at the restoration. The rood loft staircase may be seen on the outside.
On the exterior north wall of the chancel are the vestiges of a former vestry, with the remains of a beautiful 14th century piscina, which Nichols states “is believed to be Saxon”. The church is dedicated to St Peter, and the tower, which is an exceedingly fine specimen of its date, contains eight bells, three of which were added by Mr Hanbury, the founder, of whom we must presently speak. In this neighbourhood, where fine towers are so rare, that of Church Langton deserves especial attention, not only from its size, its simplicity, its massiveness, and fine masonry, but from the peculiar form of its buttresses, clasping as they do the angles, with shallow projections, more like those of Norman date than of the 15th century, as these are. Mr Poole first called attention to this local characteristic, which may also be seen in the towers of Welford, Theddingworth. Braybrooke, and many other churches of the neighbourhood.
Mr Cherry the organist struck up “Oh how amiable are thy tabernacles oh Lord,” on the instrument over which he presided - one of fine tone and played with skill.
The mausoleum, octagonal in form, and containing five coffins was visited. The velvet coverings were falling to pieces through age; the tombs were giving way; dust returning unto dust. We noticed the coffin of the Rev Wm. Hanbury, rector of the parish, who died March 1, 1778, aged 52 years 5 months and 2 days. Well might we exclaim after hearing the deeds of one of the departed recounted, his expansive mind and hopes described, his laudable desire to do good and his disappointment; and upon thinking of his former position, wealth and honour, and his now dead and wasted form –
Thou poor pale piece
Of outcast earth, in darkness; what a change
From yesterday! Thy darling hope so near
(Long laboured prize). Oh, how ambition flushed
Thy glowing cheek; ambition, truly great
Of virtuous praise. Death's subtle seeds within
(Sly treacherous mirror) working in the dark
Smiled at thy well concerted scheme; and beckoned
The worm to riot …
Outside were to be seen the stones marking the site of the proposed cathedral, and matters calculated to impress the mind with the greatness of the departed; his great deeds in prospective afforded a fine theme for poet, preacher and antiquarian. His ideas that were beyond ordinary human capacity were quenched by the hand of the destroyer, and mouldering cases contained that which was once noble, and estimable, and mortal of a man whose memory the visitors regarded with reverence approaching unto awe and admiration. Truly how “abject and yet how august” is man.
The seat of Sir Arthur G Hazlerigge, Bart, was next visited. The party first inspected the church, where Mr Thomas North, hon. secretary, read some remarks which Canon James had made upon the chapel. He said:
We read that in 1275 Sir Auketin de Martival founded the chantry and chapel in his Manor House at Noseley. It was afterwards enlarged by his son Roger, for a collegiate church. He (Roger) died Bishop of Salisbury, in 1329, having previously bestowed many gifts upon the wardens and priests of his college at Noseley. There can be little doubt that the existing building is the collegiate chapel of this Roger de Martival, not only from the style of the architecture agreeing with his date, but from the distinctly collegiate form of the building. Nicholls assigns to it a much more modern origin, misled probably by the character given to the windows on the south side by the absence of mullions (which have of course been destroyed).
It is one of the advantages which the more accurate study of ecclesiastical architecture has brought about, that we are enabled unhesitatingly to connect the present building with the original foundation, and thus give it the additional interest which this fact supplies. The whole of the original building remains, with the exception of the vestry, and probably a priest's chamber over, which connected the chancel with the detached towe. The chapel was originally nearly equally divided by a skreen, into nave and choir, each having four two light windows on either side (except where, on the No. 1 the vestry interfered). The western bay was probably parclosed off as an anti-chapel, having north and south doors, and a larger western one for grand processional occasions.
The east and west windows are poor perpendicular insertions of the 15th century. On the jamb of the 5th window from the west, on the north side may be seen the mark into which the skreen, which separated the nave from the chancel, was formerly fitted. The present proprietor remembers a skreen existing here some 40 years ago, but that is described by Nichols as “modern.” The base of the old skreen may I believe, be discovered worked up in the present pews. The stalls, which are of very fine execution for their late date, are obviously not in their original position; they must originally have stood eastward of the chancel skreen, within the choir. Against the west side of the skreen probably originally existed two altars, one on each side of the entrance. This will account for the position of the two piscinas, which may still be seen in the middle of the church with their wooden credence shelves remaining entire. The three sedilia and double piscina in the choir are of the date of the original building, as is also a very beautiful font at the west end, which we should not have expected to find in a collegiate chapel, unless it had been attached (as this was) to the Manor House, and it is singular that the privilege of Baptism was especially secured to this chapel by the original agreement, and confirmed by the Bishop, in 1403. The right of bells, the celebration of matrimony, and the churching of women attached to the Manor, were also allowed by the same document. There is a holy water stoop close to the south door.
In the east window are some very valuable remains of the original 14th century glass, in delightful contrast to some of the 19th century in the head of the window. Two wooden altar candlesticks of carved renaissance work and gilt, should be noticed as showing how soon the family of the great Puritan Sir Arthur returned back to its loyalty to church and state. It would be impossible thoroughly to describe, but equally impossible altogether to pass over the remarkable and uninterrupted series of family monuments which have escaped alike spoliation and restoration. The earliest among the Alabaster slabs are the commencement of the series, that of Thomas Hazlerig, who married Elizabeth Martival (through whom the property came to the present family) being the oldest. The inscription is worth noticing from the addition of the words “Littera Donimicali D;” an uncommon addition to a date. A bell lies on the outside. “Thomas Haslerig S. Squier made me 1590.” The clapper is gone, but it would be well to preserve it by bringing it within the chapel.
The Rev J H Hill drew attention to the ornaments which still remained at the end of the collegiate formed seats. The figure of a cock was the family crest of Elizabeth of Staunton, wife of Sir William de Hesilrige, and mother of Thomas Hesilrige, who obtained this collegiate property from the Crown. It was also remarked by the Rev J H Hill, that the tower and room which separated it from the chancel, was part of the original structure. On the dissolution the present body of the chapel was rebuilt, or partly altered by their new possessor. The beams of the roof were supported by carved angels, each holding a shield, on some of which were the emblems of the Passion, on others the arms of Martival, who founded and endowed the college in 1273. The family vault was under the east part of the church. The east window had many remains of painted glass, consisting of different figures.
A discussion ensued, in which Canon Trollope, the Rev J H Hill and others took part, respecting the further peculiarities of the building.
Sir Arthur, and Lady and the Misses Hazlerigge joined the party in the chapel, and accompanied it over the grounds and to the entrance hall, where the paintings were viewed, and a letter from Oliver Cromwell, in his own handwriting, read by the Dean of Waterford. The Ven. Archdeacon Fearon also joined the company here; likewise Sir Fredk. Fowke, Bart. The grounds were much admired, especially, that portion arranged so as to combine in one gorgeous design the flowers possessing the brightest colours.
The Rev Ernest Tower, whilst the party was in the hall, said that he had been requested to return to Sir A and Lady Hazlerigge the warm and sincere thanks of those who were there, for the kind and cordial reception which they had accorded them. He wished the duty had fallen into other and abler hands, but he would not be coy about returning them their thanks in the name of the association. He did not know what the feelings of those present were when they entered the church, but he thought that most of them must have been struck with the monuments which existed of so many members of the family. He hoped that such a characteristic would be long continued at Nosely. As it seemed to have been a peculiar blessing to that family, for its members to live so long, he hoped that the same blessing would attend Sir Arthur and Lady Hazlerigge, and that the family might continue for many generations, as it had hitherto done. He did not say this simply to flatter, but owing to his own love of the county the places in which they were visiting. (Cheers).
Sir Arthur Hazlerigge was much obliged to the party for the kind manner in which its thanks had been conveyed by Mr Towers, and was only too glad if they had received any gratification from visiting Nosely.
The party joined by Sir Arthur, left for;
On arriving there Canon Trollope described the church from a few hasty notes, made during an inspection before the rest arrived. The tower was worthy of the notice of their architectural friends, consisting as it did of four succeeding stages. The west doorway was remarkable. The head of one of the windows had been replaced, it not being of the same hemispherical form. He detailed the Norman and Saxon features of the building, to a well carved string-course, and to other prominent characteristics, and invited the party to an examination of the exterior of the church.
Canon James remarks upon the edifice: -
There is little archaeological interest about this church with the exception of the very ancient tower, which is well worth the accurate study of the church antiquarians. The west door seems to have indications of “long and short" work, what is generally considered to mark out Saxon execution. The primitive formation of the arch points to the same date, and the small single-light window on the south with its flat dripstone is identical with the work esteemed Saxon at Barnack and elsewhere. The two-light window on the south is somewhat later, and may be considered transition between Saxon and Norman. But the west door and lower window may fairly be assigned to the Saxon period, giving an especial interest to this church; as I know of no equally early remains in the neighbourhood. The church is dedicated to St Thomas à Becket, which must have therefore been its second dedication.
A short drive brought the company to Keythorpe Hall, the seat of Lord Berners, which is beautifully situated in the midst of a rich and finely wooded tract of country, and commands from some points an extensive view of the surrounding landscape. His Lordship and Lady Berners received the company in the most hospitable manner. The noble lord took the pains to describe some valuable relics which he had collected. One was a matchlock inlaid with gold, which had been taken from the Great Mogul at Delhi. A communion cup with suitable inscription; some poachers’ implements of the most terrible kind, taken from men in that neighbourhood; John O’ Gaunt’s staff and other objects interested the visitors, and afforded his lordship evident pleasure in describing them.
A banquet was spread in the hall. It was on a scale of magnificence which did honour to the noble lord, and made his guests unanimous in their expressions of admiration. Each end of the table was arched over with grapes, depending from vines in pots on either side. Gold cups, and silver plate, epergnes and vases of flowers adorned the table, and imparted a beauty which was in keeping with the handsome and generous and chivalric spirit of the entertainers. Lord Berners occupied the chief seat; opposite being the Dean of Waterford, and Lady Berners, and at either end, Archdeacon Moore and Mr Levien. After dinner, dessert was placed upon the tables, along with, as before, choice wines. The arrangements were in fact all that could be desired.
Lord Berners gave “the Queen,” which was duly honoured.
His Lordship next proposed ''Prosperity to the Leicester Architectural and Archaeological Society," in cordial terms, expressing his pleasure at meeting those around him on that occasion, and coupling with the toast the name of the Rev Canon Trollope.
Canon Trollope replied in a lengthy speech, and referred to his Lordship’s kindness, not only that day, but to his generosity and the assistance which he has generally rendered in church restoration. His beneficence was known to all of them. He indulged is the highest eulogiums as to the entertainment, and gave, is a complimentary manner, “The health of Lord and Lady Lord Berners”.
Lord Berners replied, his speech being commendatory of the party, and expressive of his happiness in entertaining the company before him. His Lordship was repeatedly cheered, and concluded by proposing the “Health of Archdeacon Moore” who had made suggestions to him with regard to the work of church restoration, in which he had taken part.
Archdeacon Moore feelingly replied; and Mr Levien's name being mentioned in connection with the British Museum, that gentlemen likewise responded.
After the exchange of mutual congratulations and thanks to his Lordship, the company again took to their carriages, and were driven to
Canon Trollope, the time being short, briefly described the church at this place, and the members dispersed and examined it.
The sound of the bugle caused the party to muster, and leave for
According to Lord Berners’ directions, the bell ringers were engaged here, and the entrance to this village was under lively circumstances. The people, as in most others cases, were out of doors to witness the visit. The character and architectural features of the building, and the beneficence of Lord Berners was here dwelt upon by Canon Trollope, and the Dean of Waterford. Some amusement was caused in the course of narration of the Dean by reference to two low windows in the chancel, supposed to have been for the doling out of alms to lepers or others not allowed to enter the church. After stating some facts about a lepers' hospital in Ireland, he observed that it was supposed, in the time of King John, who founded one of these institutions, on account of his son, that the disease was contracted by “immoderate eating of salmon and the drinking of cider." He did not know whether salmon and cider in those days produced the like. Leprosy, happily, was almost unknown.
Conclusion of the AGM
Here was the place for leave taking. Friends shook each other cordially by the hand. Cheers for Lord Berners, and the party, were given, and the carriages took different routes to suit the occupants, and gain home speedily. Owing to a misunderstanding, we experienced incon-venience. The bells rang a merry peal as the party left, and so concluded the meeting, this year, of the Leicestershire Architectural and Archaeological Society - a meeting on the whole good, and notwithstanding the drawback in the shape of the weather of Tuesday, full of the happiest associations.
Prepared by David Adams
Article published by kind permission of the The Leicestershire Architectural and Archaeological Society.
The Leicester Journal.
Kibworth History Society
Gents Factory, Leicester Road andNew Road, Kibworth
Gents & Company Limited was established in Leicester in 1872 by John Thomas Gent and for over a century was a major manufacturer of electrical equipment. The Company was renowned for its electric clocks displayed on public buildings and
railway stations all over the world and also made telephones, alarm systems, bells, transformers, signalling and recording equipment, as along with many other items. Their manufacturing base was the Faraday Works, Temple Road, Leicester.
During World War ll the Company manufactured electrical parts for aircraft communications, radar, U-boat detection, clocks for shipping, and air-raid sirens.
In 1946 Gents opened a workshop on the A6 Leicester Road, Kibworth Harcourt opposite the long gone Foxhound Inn to produce a new small domestic bell. Production at the workshop continued through the next decade
Due to structural problems at the Leicester Road workshop a new factory was built on New Road Kibworth Beauchamp opposite the Kibworth Gas Works. This factory was opened on 1st April 1961 and by the following year the workforce had increased to 50 and the factory was manufacturing, among other items, fire detection alarms. Production continued over the next two decades however in 1981 the company was sold to Chloride and became known as Chloride Gent. The following year Chloride sold Chloride Gent to the MK Electrical Group. The company was then called Gent Limited and later that year the employees were informed that due to the continuing trade recession the Kibworth factory would have to close.
Following the closure of the Kibworth Factory only a few jobs remained at the Leicester works however Gent Limited continued production of fire alarms. In 1993, the company was acquired by Caradon/Novar and in 2005 it was taken over by Honeywell. The company now known AS Honeywell Gent is based on the Hamilton Industrial Park, Leicester and production is mostly involved with fire detection and alarm systems.
Written by David Adams
Harold W Ward
Kibworth History Society
The transcripts of the documents are as accurate as possible although some words are indecipherable and those words are marked by a ▬. Copies of the original abstract documents precede the transcript
The Last Will and Testaments of William Parker (the elder) and William Parker (the younger)
Copy and transcript of the last will and testament of William Parker (the elder)
The transcripts of the documents are as accurate as possible although some words are indecipherable and those words are marked by a ▬. Photographs of the original abstract documents precede the transcript
Abstracts of Mr Peach’s title to an estate in Kibworth Harcourt in the County of Leicester.
In 1235-36 Richard de Harcourt was holding land in Kibworth from the Earl of Warwick, and it is probable that this was the manor of Kibworth Harcourt. The Harcourt family retained the manor until 1265 at which time the size of the manor was calculated for Exchequer purposes and gives an insight into the estate and its value;
One mesuage and 10 virgates in demense worth £7 12s 0d., 18½ virgates in villeinage of land, each virgate being worth 16s per annum.
Rents from free tenements and cottars amount to 38s 10d. per annum.
Fixed rent from 1 virgate free land worth 6s 8d. per annum.
One mill worth 20s 8d. per annum in rents.
A render of 4 capons at Christmas worth 6d.
Total value of the manor, £26 0s 8d. per annum
In 1265 the manor was seized from Saer de Harcourt by Henry Ⅲ because of Saer’s allegiance to Simon de Montfort (Earl of Leicester) who led the rebellion against the King. In 1267, the King handed over the manor to William Mauduit, Earl of Warwick.
In 1267 the King pardoned Saer de Harcourt and the manor was returned to him in 1268 by William Mauduit’s widow. However it is believed the Saer had financial problems and in consequence he transferred, possibly as security for debt, the manor, less the advowson, to John le Ferron, a Farrier of London.
On October 23 1270 John le Ferron granted to Walter of Merton the manor of Kibworth, with the advowson of the chapel of the same manor and on the 26ᵺ of the same month Saer of Harcourt granted to Walter of Merton, for the sum of £400, the manor of Kibworth Harcourt which John le Ferron held. The payment of £400 by Walter of Merton to Saer de Harcourt for the manor of Kibworth Harcourt appeared to be below the actual value of the manor possibly due to the Saer anxiety to urgently raise money.
On May 15 1271 the manor of Kibworth Harcourt was legally transferred from John le Farron and Saer de Harcourt to Walter of Merton.
Walter died in 1277 and he had six heirs. Two of Walter’s heirs gave up their shares to Merton College in 1278. After protracted negotiations and some substantial payments the remaining heirs gave up their shares of the manor to Merton College. This resulted in Merton College holding the whole of the Kibworth Harcourt manor.
There was a lesser manor in Kibworth Harcourt in the early reign of King Henry Ⅲ which was held by Lawrence of Apetoft. William de Harcourt, Saer de Harcourt’s grandfather, had granted 10 virgates of land to Lawrence of Apetoft during the early part of the 13th century. The Apetoft manor appears to have remained separate from the main Kibworth Harcourt manor and passed through a number of hands before being held by John le Ferron and subsequently by Walter of Merton. The Apetoft manor was granted to two fellows of Merton College, Master Henry of Fodringeye and Master Robert of Cardevre c1295 who in turn conveyed the manor to Merton College. This conveyance was challenged by the Earl of Warwick, however in 1300-1 King Edward Ⅰ dismissed the challenge and the conveyance of the Apetoft manor to Merton College was confirmed and became part of the main manor of Kibworth Harcourt.
Merton College holds the manor to the present day.
Written by David Adams
Clare and Steve Langan
British History on Line
R.H. Hilton, Kibworth Harcourt A Merton College Manor in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries