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Name:CHURCH OF ST MARY THE VIRGIN AND ST JOHN THE BAPTIST, CHURCH STREET (EAST END), ROTHLEY
HER Ref:MLE13258
Parish:Rothley, Charnwood, Leicestershire
Grid Reference:SK 585 126
Map:Coming soon

Monument Types

  • MINSTER? (Middle Anglo Saxon to Early Medieval - 675 AD? to 1100 AD?)
  • CHURCH (Early Medieval to Modern - 1101 AD to 2050 AD)

Summary

Pevsner describes this church as a 'large and impressive church of pink granite'. It has a perpendicular west tower and clerestory, C13th north arcade and early C14th windows. The church has a circular Norman font. It was restored in the late C19th. The church could be on the site of an Anglo-Saxon minster.

Additional Information

Listed building description:
Church. C13-C15, restored and chancel rebuilt 1878. 1878 restoration by R. Reynolds Rowe of Cambridge. Granite rubble stone with stone dressings and part battlemented, part Swithland slate roof. Stone coped gables, some with cross finials.
West tower, nave, aisles, chancel, north organ chamber and north porch. Perpendicular west tower of 3 stages with clasping buttresses becoming polygonal at second stage, and angle at third stage. West doorway with traceried spandrels. 3-light west window with stained glass of 1879. Clock face, quatrefoil and 1-light windows at second stage. Four 2-light bell openings, quatrefoiled lozenge frieze and battlements. Tall nave arch with deeply hollowed mouldings on semi-circular responds. 4 1/2 bay north arcade of C13, with unchamfered arches of one step on circular piers. Four bay south arcade with double chamfered arches on octagonal piers. Perpendicular clerestory with four 3-light windows on either side. Restored 6 bay low-pitch tie beam roof, the tie beams original and with carved bosses. C14 north aisle, the four windows renewed reticulated tracery, three filled with C19 stained glass. North-east window with intersected tracery opens into C19 north organ chamber. North door and porch. Double chamfered chancel arch on polygonal responds. Chancel has polygonal boarded roof and most of the windows filled with later C19 stained glass. C14 south aisle, the windows with renewed Curvilinear tracery and the south-east with stained glass of 1897. Piscina with cusped niche. Small south door and larger south door.
Fine series of monuments. Tomb chest with incised lid to Bartholomew Kyngston, d.1486, and his wife. On front are inscribed Kingston's Will and coat of arms. Incised slab is Robert Vincent and two wives, c.1530. Tomb chest with incised lid to Humfrey Babington, d.1549, and his wife. Hanging monument with many small figures to Thomas Babington, d.1567, and his wife. Panel from C16 monument with two mermaids holding coat of arms of Kyngston impaling Skeffington. Wall monument to Anne Babington, d.1648, in alabaster with black and red marble, showing within oval niche the busts of both Anne and her husband Matthew Babington: attributed to Edward Marshall. C19 wall monument, oak choir stalls and brass lectern. Round Norman font, with pattern of concentric lozenges, on C19 short shafts. Chancel screen, Perpendicular, with 1-light divisions, ogee arches decorated with foliage. Said dated 1520 in Kelly's 'Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire' 1881 where also tower dated 1425. White's 'Leicestershire and Rutland' 1877 and Pevsner.
R. Reynolds Rowe, 1878

Project Gargoyle project work in 2010 recorded a large number of hood stops (a.k.a. label stops) with human heads inside and out. Grotesque gargoyles on exterior. Some carvings may be medieval (either C12th/C13th or C15th) and others may be C19th restorations but difficult to establish which are older and which are later. The foliate C15th roof bosses have been restored (presumably in the late C20th), mostly with red paint and gilding though one is blue and gold.

Norman font, circular, drum shaped.


<1> Pevsner N, 1984, The Buildings of England Leicestershire and Rutland, p364 (Bibliographic reference). SLE4.

ST MARY AND ST JOHN BAPTIST. A large and impressive church, of pink granite with grey stone dressings. Big Perp W tower with clasping buttresses, turning polygonal higher up and then into angle buttresses. W doorway with traceried spandrels. Quatrefoiled lozenge frieze below the battlements. Nave and aisles embattled. Perp clerestory. Chancel added in 1877-8 as part of the restoration by J Reynolds Rowe of Cambridge. The exterior much renewed, but inside a C13 N arcade with circular piers with octagonal abaci. The arches are of one step, unchamfered. The last bay is later and larger. It must have led into a transept. The responds have fillets, that is c.1300. S arcade of standard details. The windows, though all renewed, indicate an early C14 date for the N as well as the S aisle. - FONT. Norman, circular, of drum shape, with an all-over pattern of large concentric lozenges (cf. Peckleton). - SCREEN. Perp, with one-light divisions. MONUMENTS. Tomb-chest with incised lid of Bartholomew Kyngston d. 1486 and wife. The inscription is Kyngston's will, a most unusual thing to put on a monument (E end of the N aisle). - Robert Vincent and wives, c. 1530. Also an incised slab (E end of the S aisle). - Humphrey Babington d. 1549 and wife. Tomb-chest with incised lid. Against the chest a rebus of two baboons each standing on a tun and holding a shield, and L of them incised kneeling figure of son with inscription. Probably not correctly assembled (chancel S). - Thomas Babington d. 1567 and family. Hanging monument with many small figures (N aisle). - Anne Babington d. 1648. Oval niche, horizontally placed, with demi-figures of husband and wife affectionately holding hands. A sculpturally good piece, attributed to Edward Marshall. - Also a panel from an Elizabethan monument. Two mermaids holding a shield with the Kyngston arms, impaling Skeffington. - In the churchyard (E wall) headstone to William Hunt d. 1794 with a pretty relief showing the collapse of a church on the day of the Last Judgement, carved by Hind of Swithland. - Also in the churchyard the ROTHLEY CROSS, a 9ft high shaft with no head, assigned by Sir Thomas Kendrick to the mid C9. Mostly interlace panels, some arched and one gabled. On one panel a stylised beast. No figures.

<2> 1976-7, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Volume 52, Vol 52 (1977), p90-1 (Journal). SLE5970.

In late September 1977 the removal of pews from the nave allowed inspections of the foundations to take place. It revealed that some elements of the foundations may be of Norman date. (SJM 14/12/92)

<3> Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, 2018, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Volume 92, Vol 92 (2018), p97-114 (Journal). SLE5817.

"The parish and church of Rothley, Leicestershire: a re-interpretation", published in Transactions in 2018. The church's earliest fabric is Norman (the font is c.1160), but its double dedication to St Mary and St John the Baptist is a common feature noted by Blair for pre-conquest minsters. The Anglo-Saxon cross shaft in the churchyard may suggest that Rothley was a late minster with a parish founded possibly in the mid- to late-tenth century. Archaeological fieldwork in 2007 recorded 298 Christian burials to the north-east of the churchyard, meaning dates need to be revised to more than 200 years earlier than originally proposed. In around 680 the diocese of Leicester was created; the second bishop of Leicester (Wilfrid) was 'noted for his missionary zeal'. The process of Christianisation had clearly been successful in Rothley by the late seventh/early eighth centuries. Later documentary evidence backs up the proposal that this was a minster site, for instance the privileges granted to minsters in the mid- to late-eighth century might also give clues to the origins of some of the later privileges attached to Rothley. Also, there is a paper trail of payments from thegns wishing to establish churches on their estates.

Sources

<1>Bibliographic reference: Pevsner N. 1984. The Buildings of England Leicestershire and Rutland. p364.
<2>Journal: 1976-7. Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Volume 52. Vol 52 (1977), p90-1.
<3>Journal: Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society. 2018. Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Volume 92. Vol 92 (2018), p97-114.

Associated Finds

  • FONT (Saxo Norman to Early Medieval - 1067 AD to 1150 AD)

Designations

  • Listed Building (II*) 1230285: CHURCH OF ST MARY THE VIRGIN AND ST JOHN THE BAPTIST
  • Conservation Area: Rothley

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

Human head label stop, Rothley church  © Leicestershire County Council

Human head label stop, Rothley church © Leicestershire County Council

Human head label stop, Rothley church  © Leicestershire County Council

Human head label stop, Rothley church © Leicestershire County Council

Gargoyle, Rothley church  © Leicestershire County Council

Gargoyle, Rothley church © Leicestershire County Council

Gargoyle, Rothley church  © Leicestershire County Council

Gargoyle, Rothley church © Leicestershire County Council

Female carving, Rothley church  © Leicestershire County Council

Female carving, Rothley church © Leicestershire County Council

Male carving, Rothley church  © Leicestershire County Council

Male carving, Rothley church © Leicestershire County Council

Beast-like carving, Rothley church  © Leicestershire County Council

Beast-like carving, Rothley church © Leicestershire County Council

Pig-like carving, Rothley church  © Leicestershire County Council

Pig-like carving, Rothley church © Leicestershire County Council

Male head carving, Rothley church  © Leicestershire County Council

Male head carving, Rothley church © Leicestershire County Council

Male head carving, Rothley church  © Leicestershire County Council

Male head carving, Rothley church © Leicestershire County Council

Nave roof  © Leicestershire County Council

Nave roof © Leicestershire County Council

Carved roof boss  © Leicestershire County Council

Carved roof boss © Leicestershire County Council

Bench end  © Leicestershire County Council

Bench end © Leicestershire County Council

Horse bench end  © Leicestershire County Council

Horse bench end © Leicestershire County Council

Naval insignia  © Leicestershire County Council

Naval insignia © Leicestershire County Council

Dated roof timber (1593)  © Leicestershire County Council

Dated roof timber (1593) © Leicestershire County Council

View from the altar  © Leicestershire County Council

View from the altar © Leicestershire County Council

Carved screen  © Leicestershire County Council

Carved screen © Leicestershire County Council

View from the nave  © Leicestershire County Council

View from the nave © Leicestershire County Council

Figure with shield  © Leicestershire County Council

Figure with shield © Leicestershire County Council

Bench end  © Leicestershire County Council

Bench end © Leicestershire County Council

Carved angel  © Leicestershire County Council

Carved angel © Leicestershire County Council

Mermaid bench end  © Leicestershire County Council

Mermaid bench end © Leicestershire County Council

Bench end, bird with chicks  © Leicestershire County Council

Bench end, bird with chicks © Leicestershire County Council