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.
THE LEICESTER JOURNAL, FRIDAY DECEMBER 6th 1861
Restoration of All Saints Church
On Sunday last, special services were held in the Church of All Saints, Husbands Bosworth, on the occasion of its being reopened for divine services after having undergone considerable restoration. One remarkable feature in connection with these services is the fact, that, although so much has been done, yet no appeal was made for pecuniary assistance. We understand that the whole expense, amounting to upwards of £1250, has been nobly defrayed by the Rector (the Rev. G.W.Phipps) and the Church Land Charity Trustees. This Parish sets a noble example to many larger and more wealthy ones. There are few parishes in the County, indeed we may say in the country, which have done more in the last three years in furthering the cause of the Church, and the interests of the people, than that of Husbands Bosworth. In the year 1858, a new mixed school and master’s house were erected, at an expense of £800. In the year 1859,a cemetery was formed, which, with the two chapels, boundary fences, and an acre and a half of land, cost the sum of £1500. In 1860, a new infant school was added to the mixed school, at a cost of £400. The two schools, together with the master’s house, form a pleasing group on the village green just at the entrance to the town from the Welford Road.. The whole of these works have been carried out from designs by, and under the superintendence of, E.F. Law, Esq., Architect , Northampton. The works at the Church have been executed by Mr Law, builder, of Lutterworth, and also those of the mixed school and master’s house. The Infant school was erected by Messrs. Thompson and Loveday, of Kibworth; and the cemetery, chapels and boundary fences were erected by Messrs. Clark and Barrett, of Northampton. We know not whether the builders have derived much pecuniary benefit from their contracts, but it is due to them all to say that they have obtained for themselves great credit by the excellent manner in which the several works have been executed. The works just completed at the Church, included in the contract entered into by the Church Charity Trustees, embrace the conversion of the old vestry into a south aisle to the chancel, by the opening and restoring of two arches, one connecting it with the Chancel, and the other connecting it with the south aisle of the Church; the introduction of two new windows of decorated character; the re-leading of the roof , and the erection of new seats of good church-like character, executed in pitch pine. A neat little vestry, in good keeping with the chancel, has been erected on the North side thereof, and beautifully fitted with every convenience. The unsightly organ gallery at the west end of the nave has been removed, and the organ placed in the south side of the chancel; the tower arch opened and restored, and the interior of the tower fitted with seats for the accommodation of the Sunday-school children. The window in the west side of the tower has been thoroughly restored and filled with stained glass by Messrs. Powell and Son, of London (provided at the expense of the Rector) , The deep recess formed by the opening of the Tower arch, aided by the glowing colours of the window, presents a very interesting and pleasing feature. Great facility was afforded in accomplishing this portion of the restoration by the fact that no provision had to be made for ringers, inasmuch as the ringing of the bells (five in number) is effected by the effort of one man, through the medium of a bell-ringing machine, which was provided some time ago at a cost of £35. We understand that the works which we have detailed are only the beginning of what is contemplated, for it is hoped that the time is not far distant when the whole of the body of the Church will be thoroughly restored and reseated. The works in the chancel include the removal of a miserable flat timbered roof, and the substitution of a very substantial high pitch pine roof, of elaborated decorated character, having six pairs of principals, with curved ribs, richly moulded, resting upon stone corbels, terminating with handsome carved bosses of natural foliage.
A beautiful and well-proportioned geometrical decorated window has been introduced at the east end, and a two-light window of similar character on the north and south sides. Over the last-named windows scrolls, carved in Caen stone, have been introduced as labels, upon which the following inscriptions are carved in church text, the letters being raised on the surface of the scrolls. Inscription over north window: “This chancel was restored A.D. 1861, by the Rev. G.W.Phipps and Agnes his wife, in memory of their blind, deaf and dumb sister, M.L.Phipps. Obit. Sept 15, 1859”. Inscription over south window: “Whereas I was blind, now I see. Then the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped, and the eyes of the blind opened; the tongue of the dumb shall sing”. The east window is filled with beautiful stained glass, executed by Messrs. Powell and Son, of London. In a medallion in the centre light of the window the appropriate subject of “Christ healing the blind” is introduced, and with very good effect. In the tracery emblems have been introduced, altogether forming a rich and most beautiful window. Two new substantial oak stalls are placed on each side of the chancel, having open tracery fronts, and handsome carved poppy-heads as terminations to the ends. The communion-rail, which is also of oak, is of appropriate decorated character. The whole of the chancel floor, including the portion within the communion rail, is paved with ornamental tiles of rich design, executed by Messrs. Maw and Co. Provision has been made for holding evening service in the chancel and chancel aisle, by the introduction of standards of mediaeval character for the reception of candles, executed by Mr Skidmore of Coventry, from designs by the architect. We have said that the cost of the whole of the works is £1250, £450 of which has been defrayed by the Church Charity Trustees, without the assistance of a rate, or foreign aid, and the remaining £800 by the Rector, the Rev. G.W.Phipps. We have much pleasure in being able to add that the whole of the works reflect great credit upon all parties concerned, and will conclude by expressing a hope that the architect will speedily receive a commission to restore and reseat the nave and aisles of the church in equal good taste.
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
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.