KETTON. CHURCH : ST MARY THE VIRGIN

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Early January 2015, and a much overdue return to the church of St Mary The Virgin, Ketton Rutland. I had visited here back in the early days of shooting for this site. Finally made a return trip, armed with a better camera, on a gloriously sunny January morning. The church of St Mary The Virgin stands at the centre of the village close to a stream, the distinctive tower and spire dominating the landscape. I had walked in from neighbouring Tinwell, the spire of St Mary gradually coming in to view. Rolling countryside all around (will ignore Ketton cement works) with the tower of either Collyweston or Easton On The Hill silhouetted in amongst the trees off to the left.
I had expected the church to be open abd I did get in, due to a friendly church member who was working in a back room. Apparantly, the church is now kept closed due to theft and vandalism. This is a real shame, especially in an area such as Rutland with its refreshingly trusting view towards open churches. Such trust can sometimes be abused!
The church here is made of Barnack stone and is mainly a thirteenth century rebuilding of an earlier structure. Building work had been underway and appears to have stopped for a number of years towards the end of the 12th century. The hugely impressive west door, pictured above, can be dated to around 1190. Soon after building stopped. Perhaps finances ran out. Whatever happened, in 1232 Bishop Hugh De Wells gave a release of 20 days penance for anyone helping to rebuilt the church, which was in a 'ruinous' condition. Most of the present structure was built during the thirteenth century, following that call for help, and the church was re-dedicated in 1240.
In the fourteenth century the spire was built and new windows were added to the north aisle and the west end of the nave. The walls of the aisles were heightened and the south porch was added. The following century saw the addition of the clerestory.
In 1861 the church, to the west of the chancel, was restored under Sir Gilbert Scott and in 1863 the chancel was restored under the direction of TG Jackson.
Six bells hang here, with the first being cast originally in 1640 and then re-cast by Thomas Eayre I in 1748. This is inscribed NICHO BULINGHAM AB ME SUIS SUMTIBUS HIC COLLOCARI CURAVIT 1640. This translates as 'Nicholas Bulingham caused me to be placed here at his expense'. The original 1640 inscription remains, with Eayre adding T WOOTTON W ROWLATT 1748.
The second is from Henry Oldfield of Nottingham. This is inscribed 'I sweetly tolling men do call to taste on meat that feeds the soul 1609'. The third was cast by celebrated founder Henry Penn in 1713 and is inscribed to Moses Sisson, church warden of the day. This was re-cast by Taylor of Loughborough in 1897.
The fourth bell on the ring is by Newcombe and Watts of Leicester 1598 and has the unusual inscription 'ME ME I MERELY WILL SING' The fifth reads SARVE THE LORDE and is from Hugh Watts I in 1601. Watts were a family of bellfounders with a great reputation for the quality of their work. Not so sometimes in their spelling though.
The sixth and final bell is self explanatory and reads BE YT KNOWNE TO ALL THAT DOTH SEE THAT NEWCOMBE OF LECIESTER MADE MEE 1606.
Moving inside there are some fine stained glass windows. One window shows six figures from the Old Testement, David, Moses and Solomon at the top with Hannah, Miriam and Deborah below. A depiction of St Peter shows the saint carrying the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Elsewhere a striking window shows a partially clothed Jesus, still wearing the crown of thorns, and with wounds visible. He is down from the cross but still holding on to it with one hand. The text underneath reads 'By Thy Cross And Passion Good Lord Deliver Us. Jesus is holding on to a spear, which I am assuming is the spear of destiny, the spear that pierced Christ's side as he was on the cross. It was said that whoever had this spear had control of the destiny of the world. It is a symbolic message of the power of Christ that he is depicted with it here. Also pictured on this window is a hyssop stick and dice, which would have been used by the Roman soldiers to draw lots for His clothes. A lovely window.
The font, bathed in sunlight as I photographed it, dates from the fourteenth century. The chancel roof is brightly painted, with the angels also painted. Not to everyone's taste certainly. Elsewhere, almost tucked away out of sight, a gargoyle enjoys his retirement, inside in the warm away from the winter wind.
The church grounds are interesting and in several places the headstones are not in situ. They have been removed from their original place and lined up. This would certainly make the upkeep of those parts of the church grounds easier but I daresay that it is not to everyone's taste. I have seen this in quite a few churches over the years.
Enjoyed my time here very much. Was good to see Ketton again. Next up on the agenda for the day was a return trip to Edith Weston. Another of my favourites. Love being in Rutland.

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