Summer 2013 and a trip back to the church of St Mary The Virgin at South Luffenham, Rutland. I had been here before, some six years previously, and was keen to return armed with a better digital camera. Sadly, the day was pretty overcast for much of the time and it would have been nice to have had some better lighting.
It was good to find the church open and David and myself spent quite a while looking around. I was particularly pleased to see this church open as it was locked on my previous visit.
The setting of the church is beaitiful. Set against a small village green, with houses surrounding it, and a red telephone box standing close to the church. Incidentally, the phone box is actually a listed building in its own right, having a Grade II Listing.
The church of St Mary The Virgin started off life as a very basic structure of nave and small chancel. It was enlarged around 1150 - 1200 with the addition of a north aisle. The south aisle was added in the first half of the 13th century. In the 14th century, both aisles were rebuilt, with the tower being added, the south porch being built and the nave clerestory being added. The Chancel clerestory was added in the 15th century.
When Thomas North was compiling his study of the church bells of Rutland, which was printed in 1880, he noted that there were four bells hanging. The first of these was cast by Watts of Leicester in 1593. The inscription reads 'Hew Watts Made Me 1593' but the whole of the inscription reads back to front!
The second bell was blank and was cracked. The third bell, which was also damaged, came coutesy of a local founder, Tobias Norris I, and reads 'OMNIA : FIANT : AD : GLORIAM : DEI : 1618' which translates as 'Let All Things Be Done For The Glory Of God'. Both second and third bells were recast by Taylor of Loughborough in 1886.
The fourth bell is of considerable age, being cast by Mellours of Nottingham as far back as 1510. North also goes on to note that the bell frame has the inscription 'AL : AW l CW 1681'.
There is a floor slab inside to one Rose Boswell, the daughter of Edward Boswell, the King Of The Gypsies. Rose died on the edge of South Luffenham in 1794, whilst her family were camped there, at the age of 17 years. At first there was an argument over whether she could be buried at the church as the church wardens of the time did not want a non Christian buried there. My thoughts on that are best left to myself but would take up the rest of this page. Furtunately Rose was allowed to be buried and a marble slab can still be seen now, with the inscription on it reading 'What grief can vent this loss, or praises tell, how much, how good, how beautiful she fell.'.
The carvings on the north arcade are elaborate and very finely carved, consisting mostly of human heads but with the odd mythical beast thrown in. I would say that these carvings are as good as anything, with the exception of St Kynaburgha at Castor, that there is within the catchment area of this site.
Lots of stained glass here. One window caught my eye in particular, in which an old man cradles the infant Jesus. I am assuming that this is Simeon, who Jesus was presented to at the temple on the day of His circumsicion. The figure on his left would be that of the virgin Mary, who holds two doves, which would have been the sacrifice required to be paid on the day.
Another vividly coloured panel depicts Jesus in conversation with a well dressed man. Could this be the rich man who asked Jesus what was required of him to gain admission to the Kingdon of Heaven or perhaps Nicomedius?
Another window depicts two angels.One is undoubtedly the Archangel Gabriel, who is pictured holding a lily, which is a symbol of purity and truth. The other is shown holding a spear and shield, wearing armour, and may be the Archangel Michael.
In amongst the usual angels and cherubs in the church grounds is a simple grave with the only wording on it saying 'Mrs Diana Trollope 1823'. Less is more and this is unusual and strangely beautiful. I did a little reserach on her but didn't turn much up apart from that she died a spinster and her will is held by the National Archive.
There is one very badly weathered winged deaths head stone in the church grounds but, as with most of the church yards in Rutland, a high percentage of the graves are weathered beyond recognition, which is a great shame.