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Church Post Code  LE15 8AD

Open to visitors


It was a sunny and cold December afternoon in 2022; a return visit to the church of St Edmund, Egleton. This was church number eight in what turned out to be a 12 church Rutland crawl, with all being open.

I have visited here a few times over the years and it had always been open. I suspected that it might be closed this time though; having read a Stamford Mercury story three weeks previously which said that the church had a damp issue and a failing chancel roof. As a result, Historic England had placed St Edmund on to the ‘At Risk’ register. As it turned out the church open sign was out and the problems that are occurring here weren’t yet immediately obvious to the visitor.

The church here is a familiar landmark across the fields as the traveller approaches Oakham from the Stamford.  This is a small village, with a population of less than 100 at the time of the 2011 census. St Edmund can be found at the north of the village, Rutland Water and the Anglian Water Birdwatching Centre close by to the east and south east respectively.


The village here is one of the furthest to the north west of Peterborough to be covered by this site; getting on for thirty miles from Peterborough (using the roads not as the crow flies). According to Google Maps I should be able to cycle that in 2 hours 32 minutes; something that I do not intend to test out, either now or at any time in the future!

    To be truthful, the church of St Edmund is not the most beautiful church to look at, however interesting it is.  Looking at the church from the south, windows are mismatched, with a single large window part way along the south wall of the nave being very much oversized, stretching from virtually floor to roof line. To set against that, there is a very small window over the south porch. The square tower, battlemented and pinnacled, with recessed spire is quite plain and not a thing of great beauty.

   Looking at the church from the north, there are four clerestory windows and the outline of north arcades, a north aisle having been taken down or fallen down at some point back in time. The arches have been filled in, with small windows being added to two of the four filled in arches. The arcades have been filled in with different colour stone than the ironstone of the rest of the nave; this making for an all too visible repair!


It is thought that the earliest parts of the church here date back to the very early years of the 13th century. The nave, chancel arch, south door and font are all thought to date from that time. The south porch, west tower, north aisle and north clerestory all date from the 14th century. The chancel was re-built during the 15th century.

   The nave and chancel are built with ironstone, but the tower is built with Ashlar. It is a three stage affair with the bottom two stages being plain, a single window present on each side of the upper stage. Each of the four corners is pinnacled, with a short spire completing things. The recessed spire was added during the 18th century.

 At the time of North's Victorian study of church bells there were two bells hanging here, each of which was blank. North had no details on these and listed them without founder or date. Today, just a single bell hangs here, with this still being listed as blank with no founder’s name. A date of 18th century is now suggested though, with a question mark against it. This is no doubt a suggested date given the rebuilding work on the  spire at that time.


   It is when the visitors enters inside the church though that it becomes evident how special this church is. There are some stone carvings of great importance in Rutland, a small but historic county. The chancel arch at Tickencote, not too many miles away, and the stone carvings inside the church at Stoke Dry, the carvings on the capitals at nearby Oakham are all of great importance; and so is what we have here!

   Entering through the south porch we come to a superbly carved Norman tympanum doorway, which dates from the 12th century. Two winged creatures support a circular wheel like object, which has six petal like spokes. Two beasts heads can be seen to either side, each of which are very weathered compared to the rest of the tympanum. The church guide here suggests that this is a unique design. The shafts and capitals running up the sides of the door are all elaborately carved; work of the very finest quality.

Also in the porch are boards containing the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed. These would normally be found against the east wall of the chancel. I am assuming that they were moved here during a period of restoration.


   Moving inside and this unremarkable church on the outside continued to delight. The chancel arch, thought to date from around 1200 is a simple double chamfered semi-circle, but the shafts and capitals are again fabulously carved and of the very highest quality.

    The nave is whitewashed, and was bright and welcoming with the sun streaming in. Standing at the west end and looking towards the east, there are a few things to notice. The arcades of the north aisle are still there and have been incorporated in to the newer north wall of the nave.

 Over the chancel arch there is a large but very faded section of wall painting. This, is the coat of arms of George III and to the right of that is a single figure, which it is suggested may be Moses or Aaron. At one point back in time, there would have been a figure at either side of the coat of arms.

Carvings of heads, both beasts and human, can be seen throughout the nave. Also of interest is a squint which is cut in to the north wall of the chancel arch which would have allowed the onlooker to see in to the chancel when the north aisle was operational.


Moving in to the chancel we see a sedilia, the seating for the priests, which takes the form of a low stone bench under a window on the south wall. Immediately to the east of that is the piscina, where the priest would have washed his hands and the holy vessels used in the Mass.

The sanctuary shows the hand of the Victorian restorers, with floor tiles laid down from that period. The reredos is in the form of a blue curtain which stretches the full width of the chancel. The altar is plain and simple, with just a cross and two small arrangements of flowers.

The five light east window dates from 1875 and has superb quality stained glass, which recounts five of Jesus’ miracles, with celestial band of angel musicians playing in the tracery. We see Jesus turning water in to win at the wedding in Cana, his first public miracle. Next we see the healing of the paralytic at the pool in Bethesda. Central we have the loaves and fishes, the feeding of either the 3,000 or 5,000.

Second from the right we have Jesus bringing sight to the man who was blind from birth; this at the pool of Siloam. It is always good to look at the faces of those surrounding Jesus and here the depiction of Peter is interesting; looking at Jesus with a stunned expression as the miracle unfolds. You can almost see him thinking ‘what is this that we are seeing’ as the realisation takes hold that Jesus was who and what he claimed to be!

Finally we have Jesus raising Lazarus, with Mary and Martha central, hands raised in prayer as their brother emerges from the tomb.


    The square font dates from around 1200 is decorated with crosses of various shapes and sizes and rosettes. Part of a 15th century rood screen now finds itself in front of the tower arch at the west of the church, removed from where it would originally have stood separating nave from chancel.

Across the top are a few carvings of beast’s heads, all damaged in various degrees; one figure, owl like in appearance, has just retained the shape of its head and a pair of eyes, the rest being scratched away. One other, which could well be human, has been sawn in half at one point, with just a pair of eyes looking out! An ogee carved arch is at the centre of this screen, which surrounds a doorway that leads in to the tower; the rest of the tower arch being bricked off. In front of this is the ghosted outline of where a medieval memorial brass once stood.

    Two 18th century floor plaques are of interest; commemorating Thomas Tomson and his wife Elizabeth. One epitaph reads ‘forbear my friends to weep since death has lost its sting. Those Christians who in Jesus sleep our God will with Him bring'. Close by, and on a similar theme, it is inscribed 'Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord'. This is part of Revelation Chapter 14 verses 13 and interestingly, it appears as if the spelling of ‘Revel’ (abbreviated) has been altered, correcting the initial attempt which read ‘Rivil’


 Moving back outside, the light quality was glorious, but we were only ten days or so from the shortest day and it wouldn’t be too long before the sun started to set. The church grounds are interesting but to be fair there is nothing of any rarity and nothing in the church grounds are listed. One gravestone, with crude lettering has still got a date, just discernible of 1688.

An open church can be a powerful Christian witness; especially in then challenging times that we have experienced with Covid and the current cost of living crisis (this is being typed in December 2022) The churches are there for all, whatever their faith, or lack of; for anyone who needs a place to sit and to get a little calm as the world goes by at pace around them. I hope sincerely that the doors here will be open to visitors for generation to come and that their current structural issues can be sorted out.

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