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Church Post Code LE15 8EY

Open to visitors


  It was a cold, bright day in December 2022; two weeks before Christmas. The warm start to the winter had ended abruptly and there was a sharp frost on the ground as we arrived at the church of St Mary the Virgin, Edith Weston. This was the second church of what turned out to be a 12 church Rutland crawl; primarily looking at churches close to Rutland Water.

  According to the census of 2011, the population of Edith Weston was 1,359, making this one of the largest villages in the county. We had started the day at Empingham and arrived at Edith Weston from the east; enjoying the views of Rutland Water on the way.

This is an interesting name for a village; with it being named after Edith of Wessex, queen of Edward the Confessor and sister of Harold Goodwinson, Harold II, who was to be killed at Hastings in 1066. The county of Rutland was bequeathed to Edith in 1053.


This is a small pleasant, quiet village, with not a single person to be seen in the time that we were here. Rutland Water can be found a very short distance off to the north. Neighbouring North Luffenham is a mile or so away to the south; Oakham is off to the north west, on the other side of Rutland Water and Stamford is seven miles or so off to the east.

The church of St Mary the Virgin sits centrally in the village; an ancient village centre with remains of the medieval village cross a short distance away. The church that we see today has origins which date back to the 12th century. It consists of west tower with spire, nave with north and south aisles and clerestories, south porch, north and south chapels, south transept and chancel.

 The earliest parts of the present structure are the chancel and the north arcade, which date back to the mid to late 12th century. The south aisle is from the early 13th century with the tower and spire dating from the 14th century, with the south transept and clerestory also believed to date from around the same time. The chancel was rebuilt in 1865.


At the time of North's Victorian study of the church bells of Rutland there were three bells hanging here. The first bell was dated 1621 and was made locally, by Tobias Norris I of the Stamford Bellfoundry. This has the Latin inscription NON CLAMOR SED AMOR CANTAT IN AVRE DEI  'Not noise but love sings in God’s ear'. The second bell is very interesting, being dated 1597. North does not suggest a founder's name but the National Church Bell Database suggests that it was cast by Matthew Norris, probably in Leicester. Tobias Norris I was the second son of Matthew. Any bell cast by Matthew Norris in this area is exceptionally rare, and I can't think of another that I have seen.

   The third bell was cast by Henry Penn in 1723, and is inscribed with the name John Bull, church warden of the day. Today the situation is different with six bells hanging here. Along with the three mentioned by North, three more were added in 1952 by Taylor of Loughborough.

Standing in the church grounds, looking at the exterior from the south; the tower is square, battlemented and with crocketed pinnacles, with recessed octagonal spire rising up, which has two tiers of lucarne windows at the main compass points.

Fantastic beats with bulging eyes look out from the top of the tower, with a few more human carvings a little further down, including a weathered figure wearing a bishop’s hat. The transept and chapel dominate the south of this church.


This is an area of open churches and on a few occasions that I have visited here before I have never found the doors closed. The church was open again on the day and this set the tone for what was to be a successful crawl.

    On entering, sunlight was streaming in through the south windows and multi coloured reflections from the stained glass covered the piers in the south arcade. It was two weeks until Christmas; the advent candle ring was set up against the chancel arch and both the lectern and altar were clothed in purple, the liturgical colour for that period; a time of preparation and waiting!

There are three bay arcades to north and south. The north bay dates to the 12th century and has round piers with waterleaf capitals. The south bay is 13th century and has round piers and capital. The chancel arch is also 12th century but the chancel itself was rebuilt in 1866, in French 14th century style. There is ribbed vaulting with blank arcading on north and south walls.

At the east end of the chancel is a gilded oak reredos, which has three carved panels. Central is Christ in majesty, seated with one hand raised in blessing whilst holding a globe. This is flanked by two panels which illustrate the annunciation. This was carved in 1896 and is a memorial to Rev. Charles Halford Lucas, rebuilder of the chancel.


The east window is of three lights and clear glass. There is stained glass here though; on the north wall of the chancel is a two light depiction of the nativity; the wide men presenting their gifts. Close by Joseph and Mary are depicted with Jesus as a young child. Mary is with Jesus; both engrossed in a book.

 At the east end of the north chapel is a modern depiction of Jesus with disciples calming to storm to be found at the east end of the north chapel. Interestingly, in the background of this depiction is a representation of Normanton church, which stands nearby.

At the east end of the south chapel is a two light window. The left hand panel shows St Francis, who as always is surrounded by animals, in this instance purely birds St Francis is said to have suffered stigmata, the wounds of Christ appearing on his own body. This is the case here, with the wounds shown blazing with fire! The right hand panel shows St Martin of Tours. This glass is dated 1936, and was made by Paul Woodrofe who was a book illustrator as well as stained glass artist.

It was the fine south transept window which was sending multi coloured reflections out; this showing nine scenes from the annunciation to the ascension. Good clear Victorian work in vibrant colours.


There are altars set up in the north and south chapels. The north chapel is my favourite of the two; a small intimate space. The south chapel is very much Victorian and is separated from the chancel by a screen. There is panelling on the east and south walls. Script over the top reads ‘Be faithful un to death and I will give thee a crown of life’ this being part of Revelation Chapter 2 verse 10       .

 A monument to Gilbert Heathcote in the north west of the nave is worth noting. On this monument an effigy of Heathcote is held by a putto, which is a figure in a work of art depicted as a chubby male child, usually nude and sometimes winged. These are sometimes confused with cherubs. The monument goes on to list some of Heathcote's achievements, which included being Lord Mayor of London in 1711. This monument used to stand in the church at Normanton, before the creation of Rutland Water.

The font here is a substantial piece of work, with square plain bowl resting on a base of three steps. It is undated and has been repaired back in history.


 Moving back outside, I had a look around the church grounds. Six table tombs stand together just south of the porch, these mainly date from the eighteenth century and have been given a grade II listing in their own right.

There are plenty of finely crafted stones here but what caught my eye was on top of a stone close to the path which leads to the south porch. This is just a simple crown with rays of light or flame coming out of it. The crown is an often used symbol for victory; the victory here being over death, a testament as to the faith of the deceased.

On another is the ‘final handshake’, two hands clasped together. This was a gravestone symbol which became popular in Victorian times and symbolised a final handshake to those family and friends left behind. As is often the case, many of the gravestones are weathered away but still, an angel face is just discernible through a coating of white and orange lichen.

This visit was on a cold day in winter. The grounds here are a delight in the spring; fond memories of a trip here on a gloriously sunny early May day with tulips and full bloom and the constant buzzing of bees; still hard at work even though it was Sunday!

This is a lovely church; full of interest and history and a lovely quiet place to just sit and be for a while if that is what is required. Open and welcoming; a pleasure to have been able to see it again!

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