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Church Post Code LE15 9NJ

Open to visitors

It had been a gloriously sunny February day in 2023, with the visit to the church of St Peter & St Paul at Preston in Rutland being the penultimate church visited in what turned out to be a successful crawl which started in Lincolnshire, before crossing the border in to Rutland.

To put it mildly it had been a chilly day, with the frost thick on the ground during the morning, with the temperature dipping to minis five the previous night. The light conditions had been good all day, but the sun was starting to dip, the shadows lengthening, and it wouldn’t be too long before we had to head home.

This was a return visit, having attended here with David back in 2014, as we worked our way around several of the churches in the area, before taking in an evening prayer; possibly at Oakham. This would go down as one of my favourite churchcrawl; the sun on our backs, a time spent out of the rat race, with a friend, in an area that I adore!


Preston is a typical Rutland village; small and attractive, with some glorious ironstone buildings, one of which is the church, which is open to visitors. It had a population of 173 at the time of the 2011 census. A small village but still boasting 34 listed structures.

Uppingham, the second largest settlement in the county, is a couple of miles or so off to the south. Oakham, the largest settlement, is four miles off to the north. The main A6003 runs from Uppingham, through Preston, heading towards but bypassing Oakham; with some scenic views of Rutland Water on the way.

There was no specific mention of a church here at the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086, but it is suggested that one of the three churches mentioned at neighbouring Ridlington was actually at Preston.

The church is set at the western end of the village; at the end of a quiet lane, with fabulous views out over the rolling Rutland countryside to the west. The church that we see today consists of west tower with spire, nave with north and south aisles and clerestories, south porch and chancel.


As mentioned earlier, there is the possibility that there was a church here at the time of the Domesday Survey, of which no trace remains. The structure that we see today probably started off life as a single cell building, to which a north aisle was added around 1150.

A south aisle was added early in the 13th century, with much rebuilding occurring during the 14th century, at which point the whole of the fabric was remodelled, the south aisle being entirely rebuilt and the north aisle partially rebuilt. New windows inserted in the chancel, the porch and west tower erected, and the clerestory added to the nave.

The visitor enters the church grounds from a gate to the east; the church partially hidden by large evergreen bushes. The village war memorial stands to the east of the church grounds.

The west tower is fairly slender, and battlemented, with a recessed octagonal broache spire with two tiers of lucarne windows. Gargoyles of high quality look out from the four corners of the tower. One grotesque beast grips the sides of the tower with ling talons; wings unfurled ready to take flight!

Its neighbour, looking out to the west, has long hair and beard; reminding me of church Zoon meeting through the covid lockdowns when we were unable to see the barber!

The south porch has above it a faded undated sun dial, with attractive coating of several different colours of lichen.

The south wall of the chancel has windows of varying shapes and sizes around the priest’s door. One of these windows appears a little ‘wonky’ (please excuse the technical term) with the tracery pointing off in a slightly different direction that the rest!

The east of the church is dominated by the four light window which has some elaborate tracery. The sun was starting to set and a ray of sunlight had found its way through the west window and had highlighted a small stained glass panel at the east end of the church!


When Thomas North compiled his late Victorian study of the church bells in Rutland, which was published in 1880, there were three bells in the ring here plus a Sanctus bell.

There is real age to the bells noted by North, with the first of the ring cast by the Leicester foundry around 1400. This bell is simply inscribed ‘Gabriel’. The second was by noted Peterborough founder Henry Penn. This one is inscribed ‘Henry Penn Fusore 1717’. A definition of Fusore is a founder, a caster or a melter; this is a lovely appropriate word that Penn often used on his bells.

The third of the ring was cast in 1598 by Newcombe and Watts of Leicester. This one has the inscription ‘God Save Our Queene Elizabeth’.

The National Church Bell Database attributes the Sanctus bell, which is simply inscribed ‘Mari’, to John Barber of Salisbury, with a date of around 1400. This is a new founder for me, and given the distance involved, and the shortage of his career (he was an active founder between 1399 and 1403) I am guessing that his surviving bells are few and far between!

These days, the ring has been increased to six, with two bells added by Taylor of Loughborough in 1908 with a further bell from the same founder added in 1963.


The church here was open to visitors, which is pretty much the norm for this part of Rutland. The interior here is exquisite!

 There are three bay arcades to north and south. The north bay dates from the mid-12th century and has semi-circular arches, circular piers with square waterleaf capitals. The most easterly arch is plain but the other two are decorated with zig zag decoration.

The south arcade is from around 1250; again with semi-circular arches and circular piers but this time round capitals. All of the arches are plain.

Moving in to the chancel, the altar is bare of ornamentation, with just a simple cross on the reredos behind. The reredos stretches across the whole width of the chancel and is carved in stone, dating from 1880. There is a large central niche, with two blind arcades on either side. These blind arcades have ogee arches with ornately carved crocketed canopies.

The central niche has a carving of the scene of Easter morning, when the Mary’s find the tomb empty. Angels appear ‘He is not here he has risen’. Again we have an ogee arch but this time with a large central canopy, which again is crocketed. Sadly, as mentioned earlier, this does obstruct the view of a fairly large part of what is a very fine east window.


There is a fine stained glass east window here, which was courtesy of stained glass artist Alfred Gerente. He was the younger brother of Henri with both brothers working for George Gilbert Scott on Ely Cathedral. Alfred was trained as a sculptor, but was a talented stained glass artist, with three of his windows produced for Ely Cathedral winning a prize in the Great Exhibition of 1851.

Sadly, the east window at Preston is partially obscured by the reredos; but what can be seen is of great quality and imagination. The story of Jesus is told in small panels. Jesus is baptised by John the Baptist in one panel, with a angel at the side holding a blood red cloak, the colour symbolic of Jesus’ blood.

Close by is a depiction of the Last Supper. Jesus sits central, pointing upwards towards Heaven. John is draped across Jesus and Judas is shown in the foreground, depicted without nimbus.


In another, Jesus holds open his cloak, showing his wounds to ‘doubting’ Thomas, who gives close scrutiny before declaring the risen Christ as his Lord. There are some interesting but not particularly Biblical touches in some of the panels; Jesus carried his cross on the way to crucifixion, with Mary the Mother of Jesus helping to carry the cross!

The illustration of the crucifixion shows Mary and John in their traditional positions on either side of the crucified Christ. In this depiction though, John turns away from the cross head in hand in despair.

There is a real naïve, enthusiastic charm to some of the designs here; to my eye with some reminding me of medieval glass. A depiction of the ascension fits in to this category, with the risen Christ ascending towards Heaven, disciples looking up from below. All that we see of Christ is his feet, and the bottom section of his cloak. Casting my mind back, I have seen this design before, on the panel of a medieval rood screen at Loddon, Norfolk and is stained glass at Bamford in Derbyshire. Almost cartoonlike, despite the serious nature of the subject!


Another stained glass window in the chancel is a modern design illustrating the nativity. Shepherds worship the baby Jesus, who is tiny but with a very large nimbus! Angels look down at the scene below with the Holy Spirit shining through the scene in golden bands of colour.

Also on the south wall of the chancel is a curiously truncated window with stained glass of various shades of red and orange. I would think that when the sun is positioned just right, the reflections cast through this window on to the sanctuary would be beautiful.

Between these two windows is a single sedilia, the seating for the priests during the celebration of the mass in pre reformation days. It was not too long after epiphany, when the wise men are said to have reached Jesus, possibly up to two years after his birth. A nativity display of the wise men on camels was still on display in a window off to the west; artfully silhouetted by the setting sun.


There are some finely carved gravestone here, but a single slate stone caught my eye. The stone is badly damaged with the name of the deceased, a small child, broken away.  The daughter of Mary, the father’s name is also missing, passed away in 1777 aged 10 weeks. The inscription reads ‘For as such is the Kingdom of Heaven’. This comes from Matthew Chapter 19 verse 14, with the full verse, in the old King James reading ‘But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven’.  This was an inscription which was often used on the gravestones of children.

Shots used here are from the February 2023 visit, except the exterior shot at the foot of the page, which cam from the earlier visit.

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