The Parish Church of Husbands Bosworth is believed to stand on the site of an earlier Saxon church. The earliest parts of the present Church date from the late 12th or early 13th Century. In the early days it came under the patronage of the abbots of Leicester Abbey.
The Parish was then part of the huge Diocese of Lincoln, so for a time came under the pastoral charge of such great bishops as St. Hugh and Robert Grosseteste (one time vicar of St Martin’s, Leicester). In 1829 when diocesan boundaries were changed it became part of the Diocese of Peterborough. A further change took place in 1926 with the creation of the modern Diocese of Leicester. Husbands Bosworth’s southern boundary now marks the boundary of the Diocese and County of Leicestershire, and the parish of Husbands Bosworth is part of the Benefice of Husbands Bosworth with Mowsley, Knaptoft and Theddingworth.
The Church itself is built in the Early English and Decorated styles. Alterations and additions have obliterated most of the early features. The Gothic chancel arch and tower arch are both parts of the original building. Parts of the tower are also of great antiquity, dating from the 14th Century. Notice the 14th century broach spire rising directly from the tower with no parapet, a feature more characteristic of the previous century. The steeple was damaged by lightning during a violent thunderstorm in 1755 and this is illustrated by a picture on the wall near the south door. The present choir vestry was added in the 15th Century as a chapel. It was restored in 1683 and this date is marked on the outside wall. It was used as the village school from 1707 to 1820, during which time it was blocked off from the rest of the Church. The original doorway can be seen on the outside of the building. There are records of complaints about noisy children playing and shouting!
The clerestory windows were added in the late 15th or early 16th century. They became fashionable at that period so that more light could be thrown onto the rood screen (a screen surmounted by a cross, built across the chancel arch). Notice the old rood staircase doors. There are marks on the chancel arch where the rood screen had been attached until it was removed during the Reformation. The south porch was added in 1746. The oak outer doors are modern replacements, locally made and installed in 1996. There is a plaque on the inner wall by the doors, commemorating their dedication. The large lock from the original doors can be seen on a ledge at the back of the Church. Outside, the south porch has two sundials incorporated into the gable. The north aisle was built in 1812; it is believed to have replaced a 17th century north chapel.
The clock is mediaeval and was restored in 1983 by Geoff Armitage, a local resident and church member. The Church was restored to its present form between 1861 and 1867. The chancel was reconstructed by the then rector, the Reverend George W. Phipps, in memory of his sister who was blind, deaf and dumb. During this period of restoration, the following alterations were made:
A gallery dating from 1812 was removed from the west of the Church, the tower arch was opened up and the organ was moved to its present position.
A new vestry was built on the north side and the south chapel returned to being a chancel aisle.
The pews, pulpit, font, altar and communion rails were installed.
The stained glass windows also date from this period; the west window is by Powell (1861).
The present organ was built by Gray and Davison of London in 1877. In 1952 the instrument was rebuilt and enlarged by S.Taylor and Sons of Leicester. The best of the pipes of the former organ were retained and the second manual (Great) was given by Olive M.Lamb and dedicated to the memory of her husband, Maurice Lamb, who was Rector from 1898 to 1945. A major renovation was undertaken in 1989 by Leslie B. Neat of Huncote, Leicester,who had helped to construct the organ in the early 1950’s.
The Church has a peal of six bells. Five were re-cast by Taylors of Loughborough in 1907. One of the five original bells is undated but the others have dates indicating that they were originally cast in 1603, 1611, 1631 and 1703. The sixth bell was installed in 2006 in memory of a local benefactor and to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of HM Queen Elizabeth II. The Nave roof has interesting floral decoration stencilled onto a white background, executed by the popular "ecclesiastical decorator" (as he called himself), C.J.Lea of Lutterworth, in 1867. In 1947 the sanctuary was enlarged in memory of the late Mrs E.A.Mills of Bosworth House.
The Children’s Corner was constructed in 1949 to give thanks for those who returned safely from the war. Notice the tapestry dorsal, details of which are contained in a frame nearby. The Shenton Memorial on the wall of the Children’s Corner is of great interest. It contains the swords of two members of the Shenton family. John Shenton fought as a Royalist at the Battle of Naseby in 1645 and Austin Kirk Shenton, nine generations later, was killed at the Battle of Amiens in 1918. The Memorial also contains two cannonballs from Naseby Field.
In 1971 the late Misses M.A. and M.G. Marsh presented the oak screens in the choir vestry arch and the tower arch in memory of their family who provided Churchwardens here continuously from 1843 to 1963. In 1968 they also very kindly funded the building of the Church hall. More recently, in 1997, the entire Church was rewired and a new lighting scheme installed. At this time the original brass chandeliers were also refurbished and glass lampshades added to replicate their former appearance when they incorporated oil lamps.
The text for this article is abridged from the official guide book for All Saints Church, Husbands Bosworth compiled by Peter Jones.
A concise transcription of gravestones in All Saints Churchyard, and details of all monuments and memorials inside the church, for reference only, is to be found in church. For more information please contact Peter Jones. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Village burials since about 1858 have been conducted at the Welford Road cemetery. No complete transcription of memorial inscriptions in the cemetery has been undertaken.
THE GREAT STORM
In 1755, the church of Husbands Bosworth was damaged by a storm, attended with such terrible thunder and lightning as had not its equal in the memory of Man. On Sunday, July 6th, between 7 and 8 in the evening, several stones were struck out of the western side, the pavement in some places raised an inch above their former level, their bells displaced, their frames and wheels much splintered, the spire in particular was very much shattered, a large chasm opened in it, about 12 yards in length and 1 in breadth, whence many heavy stones were forced to a great distance; globes of fire were seen in the air, flashes of lightning in a terrible manner ran along the streets, and a great smoke and sulfurous smell issued from the aperture of the spire; and what was remarkably providential, several hundred weight of stones fell about, and upon, the grave where the minister (and a large congregation attending) had just buried a corpse; which funeral rites had they been performing at that alarming juncture, must inevitably occasioned the mournful solemnity of many.