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Early January 2015 and a return visit to the church of All Saints at Tinwell. Tinwell is in Rutland, just over the border from Lincolnshire, with nearby Stamford within easy walking distance. The forecast had promised a decent day and so it turned out. Blazing sunshine all day and the light quality at times was superb. Not a cloud in the sky as I arrived at the church.

   Tinwell is a quiet place with little going on. It was, however, the scene of a dreadful place crash during  the latter stages of World War II. On 8 July 1944, two C47s collided after taking-off from RAF Spanhoe for an exercise. One crew member managed to parachute safely but eight others and 26 Polish paratroops of the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade died in the crash. All those killed are commemorated in the church.

   Rutland has a very good outlook to open churches and there are more open here than anywhere I have visited, with the possible exception of North Norfolk. Sadly, though Tinwell was closed to visitors. My next visit was to be at neighbouring Ketton and the church there was also closed. A very helpful man let me in as he was preparing for the following days service and he was telling me that the church there was locked reluctantly after a recent spate of theft and vandalism.

  There was no mention of a church here at the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086. The church here dates mainly from the thirteenth century, it consists of a nave with north and south aisles, west tower, chancel, clerestory, north porch and south vestry. Work was completed here in the fifteenth century with the chancel being rebuilt, clerestory and north porch also being added at that time.

   The tower is three stage with saddleback roof. It is thought that the upper stages were added in the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century. Four bells hang here with detailed information being given by North in his Victorian study of the church bells in Rutland. Three of the four were made very locally, by different generations of the Norris family from their premesis in Stamford.

  The oldest bell is the fourth in the ring which was cast by Tobias Norris I in 1620. Tobias set up the bellfoundry in Stamford in the early 1600's, and it was to remain in business until 1707. The Latin inscription on this bell reads NON SONO ANIMABUS MORTUORUM SED AURIBUS VIVENTIUM. This translates as  'I sound not for the souls of the dead, butfor the ears of the living' There is a further translation which reads ' Not for the departed soul, but for the living ear I toll'. I prefer the latter.

   Thomas Norris cast two of the other bells here. The third of the ring was cast in 1639 with the first of the ring following in 1654, with one or both probably being re-castings of previous bells. Both bells are inscribed 'Thomas Norris Made Me'.

  The remining bell, the second in the ring, was cast by celebrated Peterborough founder Henry Penn in 1708. This bell is inscribed with the names of the church wardens of the day, Thomas Johnson, George Allen, John Sissen and Henry Goodlad. Penn the following year went on to cast a ring of ten bells for Peterborough cathedral.

   Two of the bells, the one from Tobias Norris I and the one by Henry Penn, were re-cast by Taylor of Loughborough in 1883.

   Considering that the main road through to Ketton goes past the church, it is quiet and peaceful in the church grounds. Over to the south there are nothing but fields with a flock of sheep in the one closest to the church. Hardly anything to blight the landscape, except Ketton cement works and mile and a half or so distant, belching out smoke.

   Some curious carvings on the exterior of the south side of the church. Some gargoyles and grotesques are designed to be frightening...these are not!  One of these looks to me like a glove puppet, one is a curious one armed human figure with seemingly one hand raised to his ear and mouth open wide. The other is a very basic carving of two amiable looking figures one on top of the other. Curious things.

  Over to the east a couple of more expertly and traditionally carved heads looked lovely in the early morning winter sun. To be truthful there is not a great deal to comment on in the church grounds. Lots of old graves here but, as is often the case in Rutland, they are for the most part very weathered.

 A couple of early nineteenth century box tombs can be seen just to the east of the church, and those looking carefully will see close by, in the brickwork of the church itself, a couple of small arches wihch have been inset in to the wall.

 Interestingly, the churchyard wall itself has been given a grade II listing. This dates from the 19th century. The church clock on the north side of the tower, is dated 1964 and there is a very nice depiction of the church on the village sign just over the road. Would have been nice to have seen inside but that was not to be. Perhaps another day.

  A very nice church, set in pictiresque surroundings, in a lovely county on a glorious winter morning. The day had promised much and it eventually delivered much.

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