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Name:CHURCH OF ST. MARY & ST. HARDULPH, BREEDON HILL
HER Ref:MLE11335
Parish:Breedon on the Hill, North West Leicestershire, Leicestershire
Grid Reference:SK 405 233
Map:Coming soon

Monument Types

  • CHURCH (Early Medieval to Modern - 1101 AD to 2050 AD)

Summary

C12th priory church, reduced to a parish church in 1539. It incorporates very important carved masonry of the C8th, from the earlier monastic foundation on site (see MLE4403).

Additional Information

Listed building description:
Parish Church, formerly the church of an Augustian Priory founded early C12. Incorporates carved masonry of C9 date from monastic foundation formerly on site. Parts of west tower are early C12, raised C14-C15. C13 aisled chancel is now used as nave, and has C14 fenestration to north and south, and C15 clerestory. South porch incorporates some remains of C13 transept but has been much altered. Church much repaired 1784 by Joseph Wyatt, and again in 1900 when interior was stripped of plaster and east windows of chancel were renewed. Ashlar with lead roofs. West tower is of 3 stages with battlemented parapet, carved gargoyles and slender clasping buttresses. C14-C15 2-light traceried openings to bell-chamber, with transoms; small C15 2-light traceried windows with flat heads to north and south below bell-chamber; window to south west stairs. Lower stages have traces of roof-lines of former nave and transepts, and are much rebuilt in rubble stone. West side has blocked C12 arch to former nave, with moulded imposts, and fragmentary respond of non-aligned C15 nave arcade to centre. This has chamfered pier with attached semicircular chevron arch on shafts, and a C19 window with Y tracery. North side of tower has irregular arched single lights, and a small C12 doorway with semicircular chevron arch on shafts and later inner order with moulded roundels. To south of tower is gabled porch with narrow flanking gables and head of 3-light traceried window over C19-C20 door. Present nave has 4-bay C15 clerestory with battlemented parapet, and C13 lancet in west bay over blocked doorway with 2-centred arch and roll-moulding. Lancet has ogee wooden transome. 3 other bays have large C14 3-light windows with various traceries. Another arched 2-light window to left. Second bay has blocked C15-C16 doorway with moulded 4-centred arch and hood mould. C13 lancet windows in east ends of aisles. Main east window is a group of 3 lancets with a cusped roundel above, all renewed 1900. All lancets have deeply chamfered surrounds. INTERIOR: South porch has altered jambs of large archway to south, C19-C20 4-centre doorway to tower, and 2 blocked doorways in east wall one Transitional with nailhead and roll-mouldings to arch and clustered shafts. Arch between tower and nave is triple-chamfered. Nave arcades of 4 bays, are renewed late C18 and have double-chamfered arches on variously-shaped quatrefoil piers. Aisles have small chamfered doorways in angled west corners. North aisle retains C13 groin vaulting and west doorway with roll-moulding. South aisle and nave re-roofed late C18. In south aisle, east wall and spandrels of nave arcades are narrow stone friezes with SAXON CARVINGS of interlace ornament and grotesque beasts. 3 similar lengths of frieze in tower. East end of south aisle has central arched panel carved with figure of the Virgin, flanked by triple arcaded panels with smaller figures of saints. 2 more saints in archangel Gabriel in tower. All of very good quality. FITTINGS: 3 carved shafts of C9-C10 stone crosses in north aisle. Shirley family pew, dated 1627, part balustraded, with strapwork and heraldic crests, corner obelisks, carved foliage, frieze and modillion cornice with winged angel heads; late C18 box pews, pulpit and west gallery; late C17-C18 turned baluster altar rails and chair in south chapel; C17 carved panels in dado of south chapel; octagonal stone font with heraldic panels. East end of north aisle has iron railings and 3 fine marble MONUMENTS to members of the Shirley family: (1) tomb-chest to Francis Shirley and wife, 1571, with carved figures holding shields to sides of chest; (2) tomb chest to John Shirley, late C16; (3) large wall monument to George and Frances Shirley 1598 with carved kneeling figures and skeleton below.

For discussion of the very important Saxon carvings incorporated into the building see MLE4403, the Saxon Minster.

After 1539 the priory church was reduced to a parish church.

In 1992 a C16th helmet, sword and gauntlets were found in a cupboard at the church. These were from the tomb of Henry Baron of Berkley (it is described in Nichols). The sword and gauntlets lay beside him as he knelt in prayer, with the helmet hanging above his tomb.

Project Gargoyle survey work in 2010 recorded nationally-important Anglo-Saxon friezes from about AD 800 and other Anglo-Saxon carvings of around AD 1000, including free-standing cross fragments. From the later medieval there was a set of Gothic human heads in the springers of the nave arcade, the fifteenth century font and the splendid sepulchral effigies for the Shirley family (including cadaver). Eroded medieval gargoyles decorate the outside. Exterior photographs include what might be eroded Anglo-Saxon frieze but is more likely to be natural weathering.


<1> Williams, Brian CJ, 1996, The Story of St Mary and St Hardulph Church: A Cradle of our Faith (Website). SLE6028.

Following the end of the priory, the church was purchased from Henry VIII by Francis Shirley, Esq. The parishioners petitioned that the priory church should serve as their parish church, since that was 'almost ruinated'. The former parish church, which may have been in part the ancient Saxon minster church, was pulled down. (Williams says the parish church was west of the central tower and the priory church was east of it.) Carved stones were removed and used in the priory church, and elsewhere. The north aisle was used by Francis Shirley as his family mortuary. In 1784 it was stated that the church was in a very ruinous state; the building was 'substantially repaired'. Further restorations took place in the C19th and C20th.
(Information from Benefice website, 'http://www.benefice.org.uk/breedon_church/the_breedon_story/part_05.php', accessed 04/07/2019.)

<2> Nichols J, The History and Antiquities of Leicestershire, Vol 3 pt 2 (1804) (Bibliographic reference). SLE7.

Nichols draws the church with a large building west of the church. He refers to William de Ferrars confirmation of a grant to Breedon Priory in 1173 which mentions a market and three messuages on the hill. He also draws some of the Anglo-Saxon carvings.

<3> 1913-20, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Volume 11, Vol 11 (1914), p161-4 (Journal). SLE5988.

In 1915 LAS visited. They say the porch appeared to be a C14 construction upon the site of part of the south transept. "From recent discoveries, it seems likely that this transept had an apsidal chapel upon its eastern side."

<4> 1928, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Volume 15, Vol 15 (1928), p310-332 (Journal). SLE5949.

In the 1920s Clapham reinterpreted the carved stones and showed them to be one of the most important Anglo-Saxon groups in the country.

<5> 1961-2, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Volume 37, Vol 37 (1962), p66 (Journal). SLE5943.

In 1959 repair work a door and lancet window were revealed at the north-west end of the church, a cross shaft built in over the door and 3 more fragments.

<6> 1964, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Volume 39, Vol 39 (1963-4), p20-23 (Journal). SLE5900.

1959 restoration - after the removal of a rubble buttress a carved stone was found. Its four sides were carved as follows: 1) above, unidentified biblical scene; below, the temptation of Adam and Eve 2) a winged devil 3) above, a horseman, below, a grotesque beast 4) a figure with a halo.

<7> 1988, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Volume 62, Vol 62 (1988), p74 (Journal). SLE5957.

In 1987-8 LAU excavated in advance of a drainage scheme on the south and east sides of the church. An earlier (polygonal) feature was noted below the south porch, a flagged yard beneath the south aisle and a late medieval wall which may represent the remains of a boundary wall.

<8> Pevsner N, 1984, The Buildings of England Leicestershire and Rutland, p109-112 (Bibliographic reference). SLE4.

"[The church] rises in three square steps - aisles, clerestoried nave, and W tower: at least this is the impression one receives… To understand the history of the building it must be remembered that it was not a parish church but a monastic church, founded from Medeshamstede (Peterborough)… what survives is of outstanding interest but must be discussed later…
"In the early C12 (before 1122) a new foundation took place, this time of an Augustinian priory. Of this something has survived in the tower at the W end, with its clasping buttresses and flat intermediate buttresses in the N and S walls. In the W wall a window with nook-shafts and zigzag decoration in the arch, and more windows visible only if one goes up the stair inside the tower. The arch to the parochial nave is visible in the W wall of the tower. Then, in the C13, a new, wide and long chancel was built to the E of the tower, and that is what constitutes the present church. It has a Perpendicular clerestory, and the piers were renewed in the late C18 and perhaps worked over a little in the C19 (the quatrefoil shapes with fillets inspire confidence), but the outer walls remain, the fine big lancet windows at the E ends of the aisles - the details of the arrangement of the windows at the E end of the chancel proper are of c.1900 - and the rib-vaulting of the N aisle, not a usual thing in English buildings of this moderate size. The S aisle vaulting has been removed, almost certainly in the 1790s. At the W end of the S aisle a doorway led into the contemporary S transept, now the porch. It has a nook-shaft in the SW corner. Doorway with shafts and a little nailhead decoration. Another surviving bit of decoration in the NE respond of the arcade: some stiff-leaf foliage. The early C14 replaced the aisle windows. Their tracery ranges from intersected to a pattern of intersected ogee arches (N near the W end). The big lump of masonry W of this window is post-medieval.
"The chief alteration of the Perpendicular style has disappeared: a new aisled nave, because of the existing cloister not placed axially. One of the two surviving E responds of the nave is placed right in the middle of the Norman tower arch. It is hard to visualise how the two parts of the church , for canons and laity, communicated at all. Perpendicular also the clerestory and no doubt the crenellation of the tower, chancel, and chancel aisle. - FONT. Octagonal, with shields, big flower panels, and tracery panels. - BOX PEWS, PULPIT, READER'S DESK, and WEST GALLERY c.1793. - SHIRLEY PEW, 1627. An elaborate machine with strapwork, foliage ornament, obelisks at the top corners, and achievements. In 1632 it was described as 'a large and strange seat built up like the skreen of a great man's… [hall?].
"MONUMENTS. Three Shirley tombs, of alabaster. First, Francis d.1571 and wife. Tomb-chest with their sons and daughters holding shields. No division of the figures by pilasters or any other such device. - John, d.1570 but his tomb-chest of 1585 is by the same makers, Richard & Gabriel Royley of Burton on Trent, who promise in the contract (which has been preserved) 'artificiallie, conninglie, decentlie, and substantiallie to devise, work [and] set up' the monument. - George (d.1622) and wife. Large standing wall-monument apparently erected in 1598 to commemorate Mrs Shirley, who died in 1595. At the foot behind columns a gisant or cadaver, on the next tier five large kneeling figures (the couple, a daughter and two sons) under two deep coffered arches. Also two infants in cradles. Achievement at the top between the two curly open sides of a pediment."

Sources

<1>Website: Williams, Brian CJ. 1996. The Story of St Mary and St Hardulph Church: A Cradle of our Faith.
<2>Bibliographic reference: Nichols J. The History and Antiquities of Leicestershire. Vol 3 pt 2 (1804).
<3>Journal: 1913-20. Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Volume 11. Vol 11 (1914), p161-4.
<4>Journal: 1928. Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Volume 15. Vol 15 (1928), p310-332.
<5>Journal: 1961-2. Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Volume 37. Vol 37 (1962), p66.
<6>Journal: 1964. Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Volume 39. Vol 39 (1963-4), p20-23.
<7>Journal: 1988. Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Volume 62. Vol 62 (1988), p74.
<8>Bibliographic reference: Pevsner N. 1984. The Buildings of England Leicestershire and Rutland. p109-112.

Associated Finds

  • GAUNTLET (Late Medieval to Early Post-medieval - 1501 AD to 1600 AD)
  • HELMET (Late Medieval to Early Post-medieval - 1501 AD to 1600 AD)
  • SWORD (Late Medieval to Early Post-medieval - 1501 AD to 1600 AD)

Designations

  • Listed Building (I) 1361364: CHURCH OF ST. MARY & ST. HARDULPH
  • Conservation Area: Breedon on the Hill

Images

No image caption available  © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available  © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available  © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available © Leicestershire County Council

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No image caption available  © Leicestershire County Council

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No image caption available  © Leicestershire County Council

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No image caption available  © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available  © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available  © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available  © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available  © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available  © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available  © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available  © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available  © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available  © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available  © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available  © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available  © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available  © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available  © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available © Leicestershire County Council

Church of St Mary & St Hardulph Breedon Hill  © Leicestershire County Council

Church of St Mary & St Hardulph Breedon Hill © Leicestershire County Council

Two figures in Lady Chapel, Breedon on the Hill church  © Leicestershire County Council

Two figures in Lady Chapel, Breedon on the Hill church © Leicestershire County Council

Figure in Lady Chapel, Breedon on the Hill church  © Leicestershire County Council

Figure in Lady Chapel, Breedon on the Hill church © Leicestershire County Council

Lion-like beast, Breedon on the Hill church  © Leicestershire County Council

Lion-like beast, Breedon on the Hill church © Leicestershire County Council

Three apostles, Breedon on the Hill church  © Leicestershire County Council

Three apostles, Breedon on the Hill church © Leicestershire County Council

Saxon frieze, Breedon on the Hill church  © Leicestershire County Council

Saxon frieze, Breedon on the Hill church © Leicestershire County Council

Saxon frieze and heads, Breedon on the Hill church  © Leicestershire County Council

Saxon frieze and heads, Breedon on the Hill church © Leicestershire County Council

Scroll-work frieze behind altar, Breedon on the Hill church  © Leicestershire County Council

Scroll-work frieze behind altar, Breedon on the Hill church © Leicestershire County Council

Bearded head, Breedon on the Hill church  © Leicestershire County Council

Bearded head, Breedon on the Hill church © Leicestershire County Council

Saxon frieze, Breedon on the Hill church  © Leicestershire County Council

Saxon frieze, Breedon on the Hill church © Leicestershire County Council

Saxon crosses, Breedon on the Hill church  © Leicestershire County Council

Saxon crosses, Breedon on the Hill church © Leicestershire County Council

Medieval font, Breedon on the Hill church  © Leicestershire County Council

Medieval font, Breedon on the Hill church © Leicestershire County Council

Sir George Shirley monument, Breedon on the Hill church  © Leicestershire County Council

Sir George Shirley monument, Breedon on the Hill church © Leicestershire County Council

Sir George Shirley monument, Breedon on the Hill church  © Leicestershire County Council

Sir George Shirley monument, Breedon on the Hill church © Leicestershire County Council

Breedon Angel, Breedon on the Hill church  © Leicestershire County Council

Breedon Angel, Breedon on the Hill church © Leicestershire County Council

St Mary and St Hardulph church, Breedon on the Hill  © Leicestershire County Council

St Mary and St Hardulph church, Breedon on the Hill © Leicestershire County Council

Breedon church  © Leicestershire County Council

Breedon church © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available  © Leicestershire County Council

No image caption available © Leicestershire County Council

Breedon church  © Leicestershire County Council

Breedon church © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings  © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings  © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings  © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings  © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings  © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings  © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings  © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings  © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings  © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings  © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings © Leicestershire County Council

South arcade  © Leicestershire County Council

South arcade © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings  © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings  © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings  © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings  © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings  © Leicestershire County Council

Pre-Conquest carvings © Leicestershire County Council

North arcade  © Leicestershire County Council

North arcade © Leicestershire County Council

Saxon cross fragments  © Leicestershire County Council

Saxon cross fragments © Leicestershire County Council

Saxon cross fragments  © Leicestershire County Council

Saxon cross fragments © Leicestershire County Council

North elevation  © Leicestershire County Council

North elevation © Leicestershire County Council

Church of St. Mary & St Hardulph, Breedon (c. late 1980's)  © Leicestershire County Council

Church of St. Mary & St Hardulph, Breedon (c. late 1980's) © Leicestershire County Council

Carvings from C12th priory church (1959)  © Leicestershire County Council

Carvings from C12th priory church (1959) © Leicestershire County Council

Carvings from C12th priory church (1959)  © Leicestershire County Council

Carvings from C12th priory church (1959) © Leicestershire County Council

Frieze from C12th priory church (1959)  © Leicestershire County Council

Frieze from C12th priory church (1959) © Leicestershire County Council

Carvings from C12th priory church (1959)  © Leicestershire County Council

Carvings from C12th priory church (1959) © Leicestershire County Council

Frieze from C12th priory church (1959)  © Leicestershire County Council

Frieze from C12th priory church (1959) © Leicestershire County Council

Cross-shaft in wall of C12th priory church (1959)  © Leicestershire County Council

Cross-shaft in wall of C12th priory church (1959) © Leicestershire County Council

Carving (now in Jewry Wall)  © Leicestershire County Council

Carving (now in Jewry Wall) © Leicestershire County Council

Carving from C12th priory church (1959)  © Leicestershire County Council

Carving from C12th priory church (1959) © Leicestershire County Council

Bird frieze and head, south aisle, St Mary and St Hardulph church, Breedon on the Hill.  © Leicestershire County Council

Bird frieze and head, south aisle, St Mary and St Hardulph church, Breedon on the Hill. © Leicestershire County Council