These four Guides have been assembled and edited by Canon Brian Davis, Priest in Charge of the Gaulby Group since October 2013 - please contact him if you find any mistakes or inaccuracies  (revbdavis@aol.com) 


This Grade 1 listed church is one of the outstanding church buildings in Leicestershire. Pevsner, in his 'The Buildings of England: Leicestershire and Rutland' says: ' Of the churches of the Early Gothic Revival this is the most remarkable in England. It was built for William Fortrey, the squire, by the younger Wing of Leicester in 1757 - 75. For that date the total absence of fantasy and playfulness is striking. The whole and especially the tower show a seriousness of purpose not surpassed before 1800.'

The former Vicarage, on the west side of the churchyard, dates from the early 18th century but the upper part of the house appears to have been completely rebuilt.

The old church, which stood on or near the site of the later building, seems to have been badly maintained. In 1633 it was reported that the chancel was full of rubbish and stones, that part of the walls needed pointing, that the paving was defective, and that the furnishings were in an unsatisfactory state. By January 1634 the chancel had been repaired by William Whalley, and there were fewer complaints in 1639, though the walls needed whitening and the paving was in parts defective. 

The church and tower  were built between 1757, when a faculty for rebuilding was obtained by the patron William Fortrey, and 1761. The tall crocketted spire was finished in 1775 - it rose to a height of 156 feet (Market Harborough's spire is 154 feet). The architect was the younger Wing (died 1794), of Leicester, whose father had been engaged by Fortrey in 1741 for the partial rebuilding of the church in the adjoining parish of Gaulby.


The site of the church is well raised above that of the adjacent manor-house to the east and of the ground to the south and west. The churchyard wall on the south-west side was built by Fortrey who is said to have reset and incorporated into it the gateway along with the very fine iron gateS  (1720) from the old hall-house of Norton, with the arms of the Whalleys; the wall has a built-in water trough. Two flights of stone steps, flanked by stone balustrades, provide a grand approach to the West door, the church's only entrance.

The church, which is built of limestone ashlar brought from Rutland, consists of an aisleless nave and chancel forming a simple rectangular plan with a tower at its west end.


The beautiful spire was struck by lightning in 1843 and again in 1850. After the last occurrence, when considerable damage was caused to the body of the church by its fall, the spire was completely dismantled.


The north and south walls of the church each have seven tall two-light windows of late-14th-century character, separated by buttresses which are continued upwards to form crocketted pinnacles. The east end has three windows containing late Geometrical tracery, the central window having five lights with a large circle at its apex. All the windows have ogival hoodmoulds with finials. The low-pitched roof is concealed by a continuous parapet pierced by open quatrefoils.


described by Pevsner as 'an amazingly archaeological piece of work', is divided into four stages by three friezes, each of a different design. The belfry stage has tall coupled two-light openings with reticulated tracery, and the top of the tower is completed by a parapet with tall crocketted angle pinnacles; below this the angle buttresses are stopped against a corbel table surmounted by a prominent cornice. Pevsner says, 'Where else in England would there have been so powerful a neo-Gothic tower at so early a date?'


The interior of the church is a remarkably well preserved example of the period and has been called 'a perfect expression of 18th-century Anglicanism'. It is very plain, with no memorials and no stained glass and is entered from a vestibule in the base of the tower. It consists of a single lofty room with a gallery across its west end. Immediately inside the door on the north side stands the font, enclosed by original christening pews.


The large three-decker pulpit, the most striking feature of the interior, is centrally placed at the east end of the nave. The Clark sat in the lowest seat, the Vicar above him.  Demarcation between nave and chancel is provided by low gates flanking the pulpit, while the chancel seats are set against the side walls, facing inwards. The shallow sanctuary, containing a small central holy table, is raised on a single step and is divided from the rest of the chancel by communion rails which stretch across the church from north to south.

The whole interior is flooded with light from the many large windows which retain their clear glass set in leadwork of unusual design. The finely-executed fittings are of Norwegian oak and are mostly purely classical in detail. The gallery is supported on Roman Doric columns and these are repeated on the highest stage of the pulpit. The reredos, forming the central feature of continuous wainscotting round three sides of the chancel, is surmounted by a classical pediment. The Gothic character of the exterior, however, is reflected in the design of the communion rails and the small gates beside the pulpit.


The elaborate Gothic font dates from after 1850 when the earlier one was crushed by the fall of the spire.


The original organ, also destroyed, was probably mounted in the west gallery; the present organ is a fine one by Taylors of Leicester. It is a small, with just four ranks of pipes for the one manual (keyboard) and one pedal stop for the full size pedal board. But it makes a full rich organ sound because of the excellent acoustics.


The low-pitched tie-beam roof, extensively damaged, has evidently been carefully restored. All the original box pews survive except on the south side of the nave where they have been removed to accommodate the present organ. In 1776 the reading pew and the clerk's desk, forming the two lower stages of the pulpit, were ordered to be removed by the Archdeacon in the Nineteenth century, but this was apparently ignored.


Although there are no mural tablets in the church,  below the gallery hangs a photograph of an 18th Century painting of the Fortrey children.


High up at the West end of the church are the Royal Arms of King George III. There is also a Charities Board of c.1798 and a list of Rectors at the back of the church.


The largest and most impressive monument in the churchyard is a tall obelisk built against the east wall of the church by William Fortrey in memory of his parents, William (d. 1722) and Anne (d. 1733). This is enclosed by contemporary wrought-iron railings. On the north side of the church a smaller monument with a pedimented panel between two urns commemorates John Smalley (d. 1763) and his wife Elizabeth (d. 1772), daughter of Sir Richard Halford of Wistow. Slabs to various members of the Whalley family, including that of Stanhope Whalley (d. 1698), have been reset against the same side of the church.


There are eight bells: (i) and (ii) undated; (iii) 1760, by Thomas Eayre of Kettering; (iv) 1627, bearing the initials of William and Ralph Whalley; (v) 1760; (vi) 1761, by Thomas Eayre; (vii) and (viii) 1764, by Joseph Eayre of St. Neots. There were formerly ten bells, nine of which were presented by William Fortrey; but two were removed  after the collapse of the spire, to reduce the strain on the tower. Fortrey was an ardent bell ringer and was patron and director of Thomas Eayre. The clock is dated 1765 and inscribed to Joseph Eayre.


The parish registers date from 1749. The communion plate was given by Ralph Whalley; it consists of a silver chalice with a cover paten, dated 1728, another silver paten of the same date, and a silver dish, dated 1729.

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