Displaying items by tag: Religion

Christ Church is a grade ll listed building situated on Saddington Road, Smeeton Westerby. Prior to the building of Christ Church, residents of Smeeton Westerby attended the benefice church of St Wilfrid’s in Kibworth Beauchamp.

The Laying of the Foundation Stone:

The foundation stone was laid on 1st August 1848 with considerable ceremony.

The following is a report of the proceedings published in the Leicester Advertiser:

“They commenced with a divine Service at St Wilfrid’s Church, Kibworth Beauchamp, which was crowded with a respectable congregation including nearly 50 of the Clergy of the neighbourhood, amongst which (besides the Rector and Curate) were Revs. W. C. Humphery, & F. Apthorp, R Fawssett, C. Gutch, J. Parker and Morris of this town. The whole of the congregation at the Service had the deepest of attention and interest, and a hallowed feeling to pervade the heart. The prayers were said by the Rev. Stuart Eyre Bathurst, the Rector, assisted by the Rev. J.R. Shortland, Curate, the Communion Service by the Rev. W.H. Anderton, the vicar of St. Margaret’s, and the epistle by the Rev. Charles Gutch, Curate. The Rev. W. H. Anderton then delivered a very appropriate and impressive discourse from the 11th verse of the 2nd Psalm. The Sacrament of Holy Communion was administered by the clergy, and a great portion of the congregation. The collection at the doors and the offertory amounted to nearly £80.

After the service a procession was formed by the clergy, walking in their robes two abreast, followed by the school children, while the inhabitants brought up the rear, the whole forming a most cheering and delightful sight. On approaching the site of the new church, the officiating clergymen, in their surpluses, chanted the 132nd Psalm and on arriving at the site, the 122nd and the 127th Psalms, the 7th and 8th verses of the 3rd chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians were said. After prayer for the Bishop, the Priest , who shall be appointed to Minister at the altar of the new church, the architect, benefactors, and all, who whether by counsel or by labour, shall aid in the erection, the Rural Dean asked the question – Who is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord? When J. B. Humphrey, Esq. one of the laymen present, on behalf of the donors, offered a stone , as a foundation stone for the church, and J. Marriot, Esq. delivered a very appropriate address. The Rector then proceeded to lay the stone, and the 8th Psalm was sung. This was followed by prayer for unity, for the preservation of the church from all common and profound uses , and for a blessing on the good work, and the interesting ceremony was concluded with the Benediction. The procession was re-formed, preceded by the Duke of Rutland’s band to the Rectory (Kibworth Beauchamp) , where the clergy, the children, and the inhabitants partook of the refreshments provided for them, and enjoyed themselves during the remainder of the day with the worthy and benevolent Rector.”

Christ Church

Christ Church SW
Christ Church front aspect

 Christ Church was designed in 1848-1849 by Henry Woodyer, a graduate of Merton College, Oxford, and built by G. Myers using grey stone in the decorated style of the 14th century.  An example of this style can be found in the west elevation which has a single large window with flowing tracery set within an unusual and heavily moulded pointed arch with an octagonal bellcote above.

The church has north and south aisles, nave, chancel, vestry and an octagonal bell turret.


Inside Christ Church SW 1

The wide aisles and nave towards the chancel

Inside Christ Church SW 2

Photographs by kind permission of Leicester Photo Ltd.

The font is situated by the west window and has an elaborate carved wooden cover.

The Service of Consecration for the Church was held on 31st August 1849 with The Bishop of Peterborough accompanied by his Chancellor, and the Rev. E  T Vaughan, Vicar of St. Martin’s, Leicester, were welcomed by Rev. S E Bathurst, Rector of St. Wilfrid’s, Kibworth.

In the years following the Consecration the  Rev. E Loch and then the Rev. Aretas Ackers were appointed curates of Christ Church.

At a meeting on 12th April 1852 at St Wilfrid’s Church the Rector announced that  the Smeeton Westerby part of his property would be for the sole use of the Minister of Christ Church. He also announced that the Rev. R Fawcett of Christ Church, Leicester, had been appointed Curate at Christ Church, Smeeton Westerby.

The township of Smeeton Westerby became a separate ecclesiastical parish in 1852.  The advowson remained with the Rector of St Wilfrid’s Church, Kibworth Beauchamp.

During the latter months of 1894 and into 1895 severe gales had swept across the district causing damage to the Church.  In July  that year a fete was held in the village to raise funds for repairs to the roof of the Church.

In 1907 a new organ was purchased at a cost of £320 and a service of dedication of the organ was held on 11th April 1907. In 1921 the burial ground was extended. Over the years extensions to the Church have included a kitchen area and toilet facilities.

There is a marble wall mounted World War l memorial in the church with the following inscription:




(LIST of 11 NAMES)


1914 – 19



Leicester Photo Ltd.
Kibworth to Smeeton ‘A Stroll Down Memory Lane’ by Philip J Porter
British History on Line
The Leicester Advertiser
The Imperial War Museum
Historic England

Published in Modern



Congregational Chapel on Leicester Road, Kibworth Harcourt

The Kibworth Congregational Chapel is located on the A6 Leicester Road, Kibworth Harcourt near the Wistow Road junction. The Chapel is a Grade II listed building, first listed in December 1966.

The two storey Chapel was built with red brick with a Welsh slate roof. The central entrance door to the west of the Chapel is dated 1759.  The Chapel was extended to the east in 1811 to include a vestibule, a vestry, and a schoolroom. In 1815 a gallery was constructed in the Chapel. An organ was donated in 1930 and a few years later the pews were replaced with oak seats. There is a small graveyard to the rear of the chapel along with a building which was once a stable. The Manse is attached at a right angle to the north of the Chapel built in 1794 of red brick and is three storeys tall. Another house of similar style was built to the rear at a later date.

Inside the Chapel premises is a marble tablet dedicated to Phillip Doddridge DD.

Doddridge marble

Tablet dedicated to memory of Philip Doddridge DD

In 1841 Thomas Gook, the travel pioneer, was passing through Kibworth Harcourt, near to the Chapel, on his way to a Temperance Meeting in Leicester when he had an idea about organising a railway excursion from Leicester to Loughborough, possibly the forerunner of modern tourism. There is a plaque commemorating this on the outside of the Chapel.


Following the Act of Uniformity of 1662 enacted by the Cavalier Parliament which required reordination of many pastors, gave unconditional consent to The Book of Common Prayer, advocated the taking of the oath of canonical obedience, and renounced the Solemn League and Covenant. Many Pastors, unable to accept these conditions, left the established Church resulting the growth of the dissention movement.

In 1672 after the Civil War and the Restoration a Meeting House situated in the yard at the rear of the Crown Inn Leicester Road, Kibworth Harcourt, was licensed for Presbyterian worship. (See The White House-Early Modern)

In about 1609 John Jennings became the Pastor of the dissenting congregation at the Meeting House until his death in 1701. He was succeeded by his son John Jennings Jnr. who established a dissenting academy at the Meeting House which opened in 1715.  When John Jennings Jnr. moved to Hinckley in 1722 the congregation purchased the Meeting House.

From 1723 to 1729 Philip Doddridge, a former pupil of Jennings at the academy, became the minister and principal of the academy at Kibworth. (See Philip Doddridge DD-Early Modern)

The Dissenting Congregation at the Meeting House became Congregationalists and in 1759 the Meeting House was destroyed by a fire. Voluntary subscriptions raised funds for a new building, and the Congregational Chapel was licensed for dissenter’s worship in 1761. The Chapel was in use as a place of worship until the end of the 20th century and is now a private dwelling.


British History on line
The Story of England by Michael Wood
British listed buildings.com


Published in Early Modern

The White House (The Crown Inn), 51 and 53 Leicester Road, Kibworth Harcourt.

The first record of a house on the site of the White House was in the sixteenth century when the Parker family resided in a stone mansion on Leicester Road, Kibworth Harcourt where the White House stands today. Although the Parker family built a house on the site of the Old House, Main Street, Kibworth Harcourt and later in 1678 built the present Old House some members of the family continued to reside in the Leicester Road mansion. After the death of Geffery Parker in 1714, his widow Rebecca married Joshua Reynolds in 1716 and they ran the former Parker stone mansion (the site of the present White House) as the Crown Inn

After the Restoration, Kibworth Harcourt became a centre of Protestant dissent. John Jennings moved to Kibworth Harcourt in 1690 and established himself as pastor of the dissenters (see St-wilfrids-church-history-part2 Modern). A building, the Meeting House, was licensed for Presbyterian worship and was situated in the yard of the Crown Inn which later became the White House.

This was also the site of Jennings's Dissenting Academy – this was a college run by those who did not conform to the Church of England, i.e. were dissenters. These Dissenting Academies formed a significant part of England’s educational systems from the mid-seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. After the Act of Uniformity1662, for about two centuries, it was difficult for any but practising members of the Church of England to gain degrees from the old English universities, of Cambridge and Oxford. The University of Oxford, in particular, required – until the Oxford University Act 1854 – a religious test on admission that was comparable to that for joining the Church. English Dissenters in this context were Nonconformist Protestants who could not in good conscience subscribe (i.e. conform) to the articles of the Church of England. As their sons were debarred from taking degrees in the only two English universities of the day, many of them attended one of these Dissenting Academies.

On his death in 1701 he was succeeded by his son, the younger John Jennings. From 1715 to 1722, Jennings conducted an academy at Kibworth Harcourt and one of his pupils was Philip Doddridge DD. (see Philip Doddridge DD Early Modern).

In 1722, Jennings moved his academy to Hinckley. Following the death of Jennings in 1723, the academy closed. Doddridge was one of the last pupils to complete Jennings’ course.  From 1723-9 Philip Doddridge was the minister and principal of the Academy at Kibworth. In 1759 the meeting-house was destroyed by a fire, the White House is still occupied as a dwelling.

A Blue Heritage Plaque commemorating the life of Philip Doddridge DD was unveiled on 3rd  April 2013 on The White House, 51/53 Leicester Road, Kibworth.

1. Michael Wood, ‘The Story of England’
2. Malcolm Deacon, ‘Philip Doddridge of Northampton’

Published in Modern
Go To Top