Edith Weston. CHURCH : ST MARY THE VIRGIN

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New Year 2015 and a return visit to the church of St Mary The Virgin, Edith Weston, Rutland. I had first visited the church here back in the early days of shooting for this site. This was back in 2007. On that visit I had a very basic digital camera. Always said that I would return one day with the Nikon, and this happened on a gloriously sunny day in early January.
Edith Weston is, by Rutland's standards, a large village, to be found close to the south eastern shore of Rutland Water. An unusual name, with the Edith of Edith Weston referring to Queen Edith, the wife of Edward The Confessor. 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 within the catchment area of this site.
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.
The church here is open to visitors and it was a delight to be able to see it again. Sunlight was streaming in through the south windows and multi coloured reflections covered the walls of the south transept. Glorious. 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 sone 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.
On the subject of Normanton, a depiction of that church appears on a modern stained glass window. On this window, Jesus is calming the waves, with His disciples in the boat with him. The unmistakable form of Normanton church is to be seen in the background, at the top of the window.
Lots of other stained glass to be seen here. An interesting window shows St Francis of Assissi, who is said to have stigmata, the wounds of Christ on hands, feet and side, appear in 1224, two years before his death. This window shows St Francis surrounded by animals, with the wounds blazing with fire. Another window in the south shows nine scenes from the life of Christ with the crucifiction being the centre point. This window cast beautiful coloured patterns as the sun streamed in.
At the east end of the chancel a gilded oak reredos shows Christ in the act of benediction, this being carved in 1896 it is a memorial to Rev. Charles Halford Lucas, rebuilder of the chancel.
Up on the tower, a bizarre gargoyle sits at each corner, with other carved heads on the exterior of the building, including what appears to be a bishop and a ferocious looking creature with long flowing mane, mouth opened wide as it roars.The church grounds are packed with gravestones, many finely carved ones dating back to the eighteenth century. 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.Considering there is a main road not too far away it is remarkably quite and peaceful here.
Not too far away to the south is the remains of the medieval village cross. The the base of the cross and a small length of the shaft remain. A lovely village in a beautiful county. Well worth a look if you are in the Rutland Water area.

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