History

The History of the Church

Old Church int.jpgThe ancient parish of Blaby is mentioned in the Domesday Book and it is likely that a parish church was here before then. It was William 1 (The Conqueror) who stated that a priest should be provided for every 200 people and that the priest should be given a glebe or land to provide his living. In the 12th century we know that the Lodbrokes became Lords of the Manor. The Church at that time had links with the Abbey of Leicester; now the ruins of Abbey Park.

 It is doubtful if any of this original church building survives in Blaby, but there is a complete list of Rectors from around 1220. In the vestry is displayed a row of photographs going back over 100 years of past incumbents. 

There is a low blocked up side window in the south wall of the chancel. This may have been the place from where the sanctus bell was rung or it may have been a lepers peep. In his history of the church Canon J R H Prophet states it was the former.
 
At the east end of the south aisle is the chantry chapel dedicated to Saint Mary and Saint John the Evangelist. The aisle was re-roofed in 1630 by Rob Biggs, a local craftsman, who inscribed his name on a beam by the door
 
The roof bosses show a crown, a rose, the symbol of purity and a quatrefoil for goodness and creation.
 
There are marks on some of the buttresses perhaps made by the sharpening of tools and swords when that was the only available stone.
 
We do know that Blaby was not left untouched by the civil war as one Rector lost his living during the Commonwealth and his successor was removed from the living at the restoration of the monarchy.
 
The history of Rectors is chequered indeed and many went on to greater things; chaplains to royal households and even to bishoprics. These men are remembered in the names of houses at Stokes School and a full list of them can be found on the north wall of the aisle.
 
 
The Gallery at the west end of the church was used by musicians and singers in the days before organ and choir. It was built in 1740 by local craftsman, Thomas Exon. 
Edward Stokes was Rector here from 1748. He had been blind since the age of 8 but was said to have a cheery disposition; to have ridden his horse and to have learned the prayer book by heart. In his time the church had old open seats; the pulpit was painted blue, and there were displayed the arms of eight families. 

In 1902 a piscina and set of sedalia were found during restoration work undertaken by Canon Joscelyne. No doubt these were put away by zealous Cromwellians but they are still to be seen in the sanctuary today.
 
The present pulpit was given to the church by a Mister Richard Dale in memory of his wife Jane 1907. It is a handsome piece of carving and was carved along with the wooden Font cover by Mister Dale’s son in law William Rainbow. 

Local craftsmen are to the fore with the carving of pews and pulpit; and choir stalls with carvings of an Angelic orchestra. 

In the Altar top is a stone which may well have been from the original altar. 

The Church Tower was built in the 14th Century on Norman foundations and is unique in Leicestershire in that it has two rows of heads facing in all directions.
 
The early registers are now in the county records office. The first entry was made in 1560 and in 1626 eighty two deaths are recorded as a result of the plague.