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Church Post Code LE15 8TH 

Open to visitors


We were two thirds of the way through a Rutland churchcrawl, with the church of St Andrew at Hambleton being the ninth of the day. All of the previous eight and been open and that sequence was maintained in this most friendly and welcoming of counties.

It was a freezing cold but sunny December afternoon in 2022, with the frost still on the ground, as the warm start to the winter had abruptly ended.

Hambleton is a beautiful village, which can be found on the Rutland Water peninsula, surrounded on three sides by water. At the time of the 2011 census, the population was 203. In 2020 Conde Nast Travel voted Hambleton as being one of the 20 most beautiful villages in the UK and Ireland. Oakham, the biggest settlement in Rutland is two miles or so off to the west.

The parish here used to include Middle and Nether Hambleton, but each of these were lost when Rutland Water was opened in 1976. Hambleton, including Middle and Nether, was mentioned in the Domesday Survey in 1086, with three churches and three priests noted.  It is suggested that Hambleton might have been the centre of a Roman administrative district and the base of Anglo Saxon rulers of the area.

The last Anglo-Saxon to hold the County was Queen Edith, wife of Edward the Confessor. Edward bequeathed Rutland to Edith in 1053.

The church of St Andrew stands on the highest ground on the peninsula; and consists of square tower with small spire, nave with north and south aisles and clerestories, south porch and chancel. This is a church of impressive dimensions, reflecting the importance of the village in days past!

The church here is a real statement piece! Built on raised ground the visitor enters the church grounds from the east, and cannot fail to be impressed by the sheer size of this structure.


The three stage late 13th century west tower is substantial both in height and width. A squat recessed tower rises up with a single lucarne window at the main compass points.  A single gargoyle sits centrally on each side of the tower, with the one to the south badly damaged.

The 14th century south porch has an empty image niche over the top; two weathered heads on the label stops peer at the visitor as they enter the church through a Norman south door.

The clerestory dates from the 15th century and is battlemented. The chancel dates from late Victorian times, and is a complete rebuild; the previous chancel was pulled down in 1892. The rebuilt chancel blends in externally with the rest of the structure and I admit to being a little surprised to find out that it was fairly modern! The chancel is so substantial that it hides the rest of the church when looking at it from fairly close up!

The church is buttressed throughout but, with the exception of the gargoyles on the tower is free from any carvings.

At the time of North’s Victorian study of church bells in Rutland, there were four bells hanging here. The first two of the ring were cast locally; in 1610, by Tobias Norris I who founded the Stamford Bellfoundry.

The first of the ring was inscribed ‘Omnia Fiant Ad Gloriam Dei’ which translates as ‘Let all things be done for the glory of God’. The second reads ‘Non Clamor sed amor cantat in aure dei’; ‘not noise but love sings to the ear of God’. This third was cast by Taylor of Loughborough in 1861, which replaced an earlier ancient bell.

The fourth of the ring in North’s time is dated 1611 and is another from Norris. This one is inscribed ‘Non sono animabvs mortvorvm sed avribvs viventivm’ which translates as ‘I sound not for the souls of the dead but for the ears of the living’. This was described by North as being cracked with canons broken.

The situation today is that five bells are now in the ring, with a new first of the ring being provided by Taylor of Loughborough in 1887, at which time the damaged fourth of the ring was recast.


Moving inside there are Victorian pews in the nave, which cover the area of the two most easterly bays; with wooden chairs in the area covered by the two most wester bays. There are also wooden chairs in the north and south aisles.

There are four bay arcades to north and south. For the most part, these have round piers with waterleaf capitals. The central piers on north and south sides though are different and have clustered shafts. These date from the early 13th century. The western tower arch dates from the late 13th century.

The chancel arch and chancel itself were totally rebuilt in the early 1890’s. There is stained glass throughout the chancel, which I will come to in a few moments. The reredos is by James Egan. This comes in the shape of a beautifully ornate painting of the crucifixion. ‘It is finished’ and Christ is surrounded by angels, one of whom is in the process of crowning him. This scene is flanked by the Virgin Mary and St John, each of whom is attended to by angels.

On the east wall is a triple sedilia, the seating for the priests, and a double piscina in which the priest would wash his hands and the holy vessels used in the Mass.


There is some fine stained glass in the chancel and throughout the church as a whole, with the majority courtesy of James Egan in 1896. Egan worked as a glass painter for William Morris. Structurally, this is a glorious church, but for me it was made memorable by the glass!

The three light east window depicts the ascension, sadly a little obscured by the top of the reredos. The depiction of the risen Christ is particularly striking; robed in white and gold with golden crown and nimbus. He looks down at those gathered below, hands spread downwards.

One further panel shows Jesus at the home of Simon the Leper. Mary of Bethany has just anointed Jesus with a jar of pure Nard; Judas has expressed his concerns and is depicted in the act of leaving the room. He will soon betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Judas is depicted with a black nimbus (halo)

I can remember attending a Cambridgeshire Historic Churches tour afternoon with a friend once a few years ago. We saw a similar depiction of Judas and we debated between us our views on whether Judas should have a normal nimbus, no nimbus or a black nimbus. To be fair, we came up with valid reasons for all, but the only thing that we could be certain of is that we could be really boring when we put our minds to it!


There is a very striking depiction of Easter morning; with the risen Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene.  Christ, portrayed as was often the case as golden haired and distinctly un-Jewish, looks down tenderly towards Mary, wounds visible on hands and side. Mary reaches out her hand towards Jesus’ hand in disbelief! A beautiful, sensitive portrayal!

Egan’s depiction of the Transfiguration is stunning! Jesus stands with Elijah and Moses; the three depicted in tones of white and grey, grisaille fashion, with the exception of the blood red of Jesus’ nimbus. Peter, James and John are in the forefront, looking at the scene before them. We can only see the backs of their heads, and they are portrayed in normal colour. Highly effective!

One two light window shows the risen Christ welcoming the righteous in to Heaven whilst driving out sin. The left hand panel shows Jesus welcoming two women judged to be righteous. The gates to the Kingdom of Heaven are open wide, and coloured golden. Jesus himself is crowned as the King of Heaven. He welcomes those entering, holding in one hand a palm leaf; a symbol of Victory and eternal life.

The panel to the side of this is a different affair. The gates are drab in colour and not golden and are very much closed. Jesus here is armed with a sword and shield; dressed in armour, with no entry to those attempting to get in.

The depth and intricacies of the stained glass here such that they can sometimes only be really appreciated when looking at them at home on the computer and really thinking about what we are looking at.


Other stained glass here includes Jesus as a 12 year old, teaching in the Temple; a beautiful representation of the nativity, the humiliation of Jesus and the loaves and fishes. There is other glass here but just to mention one other panel though; this being an exquisite panel detailing the Eucharist.

In this the crucifixion is shows at the top, again in grisaille. In the foreground the priest holds the chalice containing the wine, with wafer on top. The priest and two communicants are all in vibrant colours! Interestingly, the two communicants are each depicted with nimbus.


In the south aisle there is a carved medieval coffin lid, with the head and shoulders of a male figure; hands raised in prayer in a trefoil shape cut out. The south aisle leads to a small altar, with a painting of Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden. An angel directs them out; Adam is distraught and Eve supports him in his distress.  The Annunciation is on other the east wall. Inbetween these is a single light stained glass depiction of angel musicians.

The font is pretty much in keeping with the rest of the structure; substantial! It is thought to date from the 12th century.


The church grounds are of interest and the light quality was excellent. It was early afternoon but were just a few days away from the shortest day and it would not be too long before the sun started to set.

There is nothing listed in the church grounds but there are plenty of finely carved gravestones. What caught my eye though was a rustically carved angel on a stone to one Edward Laxton. The date here was not readable by I would estimate it to be early to mid 1700’s. The feathers on the angel’s wings are from individual chisel marks by the mason.

Close by, beautifully highlighted by the sun; two angels hold aloft the crown of victory. One angel is holding a trumpet, an often used symbol of the resurrection. A statement as to the faith of the deceased; passed on 250 or so years ago!

The parish war memorial is at the east end of the church grounds; close by, on the other side of the churchyard wall, is an old red phone box, which I am surprised does not have its own listing.

This is an impressive structure and I did enjoy visiting it on that basis. However, if you have the time and are in the area, a close careful study of the stained glass here could be very rewarding. Well worth a look if you are in the area.

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