Displaying items by tag: St Wilfrid's Church

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

Approaching Kibworth Harcourt from Market Harborough along the A6 Harborough Road there is a lay-by on the left-hand side of the road nearly opposite Kibworth cemetery.

Before this lay-by was built the road had a sharp double bend designed to assist the horse drawn coaches navigate the incline as the road approaches the village. The double bend was the scene of frequent accidents.

A stream which flows from the vicinity of Carlton Curlieu to join the Langton Brook south of Kibworth Beauchamp passes under the Harborough Road and the lay-by at a point known as Rector’s Plantation. The land alongside, now Rectory Lane, was once a field that was part of the Kibworth Rector and parochial parish’s land.

On the 21st April 1834 at about midnight an accident occurred at Rector’s Plantation when an Express Coach travelling from Nottingham to London overturned at the sharp bends. Unfortunately, one of the passengers, Mr Michael Ingo aged 73 from Nottingham was fatally injured. His tombstone can be seen on the wall along the north side of St. Wilfrid’s churchyard (see below).

Ingo memorial


Kibworth Through Time by Stephen Butt
British History on line


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 central cemetery pathway

The Kibworth Cemetery is situated on the A6 Harborough Road, Kibworth Harcourt in Leicestershire.

During 1891 an extension to the graveyard at St Wilfrid’s Church was discussed at Vestry Meetings. It was decided that an extension to the graveyard was not feasible and on 29th February 1892 a meeting of village residents was held in the Village Hall and a Burial Board was formed.

The elected members of this first Burial Board were:

  • Rev. Charles Henry Thomas Cruttwell (Chairman, Anglican Minister)
  • Rev. Edmund Hipwood, (Congregation Minister)
  • Mr. William Henry Ward
  • Mr. George Reginald King
  • Mr. William Harcourt Lovell Clark
  • Rev. John Newman (Methodist Minister)
  • Mr. William Horton
  • J.S. Dickinson, (secretary)

The first meeting of the Burial Board was held on 8th March 1892 when the secretary was instructed to enquire from the owners of 7 potential sites whether they would be willing to sell from 2 to 4 acres for a Cemetery. The 7 potential sites were reduced to 2, the current site on Harborough Road owned by Merton College, Oxford and allotment land between the Railway and Harborough Road belonging to Mrs. Haymes.

The Board decided that the sites should be subject to survey by A.J. Draper the Diocesan Surveyor to ascertain their suitability for a Cemetery having regard to the nature of the sub-soil and the facilities for drainage.

At the Board’s meeting on 5th May 1892 the meeting agreed to borrow money from the Public Works Loan Commissioner to fund the purchase of the land and the work required.

Following the report from Mr Draper the Board decided to purchase the Merton College site.

At the Board Meeting on 25th June 1892 a draft contract to purchase 4 acres 3 roods and 28 perches of land from Merton College, Oxford was accepted.

This decision was placed before a Vestry Meeting on the 4th July 1892 when some opposition to the draft contract was expressed.

At the Vestry meeting on 11th October 1892 the following was proposed:

‘that there should be only one building erected on the Burial Ground and that such building be a Lychgate on the unconsecrated land’, and ‘that two thirds of the Burial Ground should be consecrated and one third unconsecrated.

At their Burial Board meeting of 1st November 1892. Mr. Coleman, the occupier of the Merton College field, was awarded £26-10s-0d compensation for loss of the field.

A loan of £2,000 was granted and on 3rd January 1893, Charles Edward Hare, a Bank Manager, was appointed as the Burial Board’s Treasurer.

Tenders were issued as follows:

Contract 1

For Levelling & Draining: £202 to £398, was awarded to Edward Mason of Kibworth.

Contract 2

For Making & Fixing wrought iron fencing, entrance gates etc. £175 to £290, awarded to Edward Mason.

Contract 3

For the Lychgate £408 to £675-15s-0d was awarded to Mr Haycock of Great Glen.

Tenders 1 & 3 were withdrawn. Edward Mason submitted revised tenders of £235 for Contract 1 and £413 for Contract 3. These tenders were accepted, leaving Mason Builders responsible for all the construction work.

On 10th May 1893 the purchase of the site from Merton College was completed at a cost of £750.

The first phase of the cemetery was completed in 1893 and consecrated in June of that year. The first burial, Florence May Kimbell aged 4 years, took place in August 1893.

Improvements to the Cemetery have seen access improved and pathways upgraded.

The Kibworth Joint Burial Board is now made up of representatives from both Kibworth Parish Councils and they have regular meetings to discuss burial costs and further improvements.

In 2021, an Epitaph software licence was purchased from Edge IT by Kibworth Harcourt Parish Council for the Joint Burial Board, for all of the burials since 1893 and in future, to be recorded and when completed, the details are due to be made available online.

Natural Burial Area

Kibworth Joint Burial Board has reserved an area for natural burials. This area will not have any headstones and only biodegradable coffins and caskets will be allowed.

Cemetery natural area2
The Natural Burial Area

The Lychgate

The Lychgate was built between July and October 1894 by Edward Woodford Mason, son of John Mason, one of Kibworth’s most celebrated builders and founder of the family firm. Historic England listed the Lychgate as a Grade II listed buulding in September 2022 ((Ref 1480910) - https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1480910?section=official-list-entry).

The Lychgate (front aspect)

Lychgate3Lychgate (rear aspect)

In February 1895 a wooden bier was presented to the Burial Board by Mr Haymes. This beautifully crafted trolley was pulled by the village Sexton. The bier would collect the coffin from the deceased's house and take it to the cemetery entering through the Lychgate into the burial ground.

Lychgate bier

Inside the Lychgate showing the bier and inside of the front doors

The Joint Burial Board agreed in 2021 to have the bier renovated and it is due to be cleaned, polished and any repairs made by a specialist from Lubenham in 2022.

Bier restored 2022

After restoration the bier was returned to the Lychgate on 5th October 2022. (additional information by Kevin Feltham).


Stephen Butt
The Kibworth Chronicle
Kibworth Joint Burial Board and current chairman, Dr Kevin Feltham
Kibworth History Society


Published in Modern

Attached to the outside, southern wall of St. Wilfrid’s Church in Kibworth Beauchamp in Leicestershire is a memorial slate tablet which reads:


"In Memoriam, Lewis Powell Williams, Surgeon. He departed life January the 9th 1771 in the 40th year of his age. He was the first that introduced into practice inoculation without preparation in this kingdom."

In 1995 Steven Lee, the then Rector of Kibworth, received an enquiry from a John Godwin who had moved recently from Lichfield to Leicestershire. Mr Godwin, a frequent contributor of historical articles to the Leicester Now monthly magazine, was puzzled by the tablet because he knew that smallpox inoculation had been introduced to the UK by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu in 1721.  Intrigued by this dichotomy, as a microbiology student, I contacted the Jenner Educational Trust to learn more about the treatment of smallpox and to try and find some additional information about Lewis Powell Williams.  Here are the results of my research.

Smallpox was already entrenched in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa when in the 16th and 17th centuries European colonists carried the disease to the Americas. In London, smallpox killed one person in twelve and left disfiguring scars on thousands of survivors. Queen Mary, wife of William III died of the disease in 1694, as did Queen Anne’s son in 1700.  Yet within 300 years, by May 1980, the World Health Organisation proclaimed the worldwide eradication of this devastating disease principally by the means of “vaccination”, a safer procedure invented by Edward Jenner (1749-1823) won much fame after noticing that milking girls, who contracted cowpox were also immune from the much more dangerous smallpox (see lithograph drawing below). However, Jenner was not the first to offer a means of acquiring immunity to smallpox. There are ancient records indicating that the Chinese used some form of inoculation as early as the 10th century. Immunity was apparently achieved by provoking a mild form of the disease in healthy people, for example by blowing powdered smallpox scabs up their noses!

However, by the 18th century a more intrusive form of inoculation was being used - the deliberate gashing of the arm and then placing of a large volume of fluid from a smallpox blister in the wound. The healthy patient was prepared with fasting and purging to lower the patient’s strength. This harsh treatment usually provoked a mild form of the disease, resulting in long-lasting immunity. There were risks, however, as it had a low success rate and patients could still transmit the disease to non-immune contacts for a few days after treatment.

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (née Pierrepoint) was born in 1689 to an aristocratic family and lived in Thoresby Hall in Nottinghamshire. Mary eloped with Edward Wortley Montagu, the Whig MP for Huntingdon, and they married in 1712. A year later, Mary was shocked by the death of her brother, William, who had contracted smallpox. Mary caught the disease herself in 1715 but recovered with minimal scarring but her eyelashes never grew again!  She was a prolific letter and essay writer and friend of the satirist, Alexander Pope.  In 1716, Edward Wortley Montagu MP was appointed Ambassador to Turkey, a country which was friendly to Britain but at war with Austria. Mary and their newly born son, Edward, accompanied the new Ambassador together with a surgeon, Charles Maitland, and a large retinue of servants.

In 1717, while at Adrianople (modern Edirne), she heard that two Turkish doctors had published articles about a new procedure for protection against smallpox which was being used in Africa, India and the Ottoman Empire.  Mary took an interest and wrote to a friend about the practice of ‘ingrafting’ against smallpox. She described how, each September, the older women visited groups of young people by arrangement and simply placed a small quantity of "the matter of the best sort of smallpox" on the end of a needle and inserted it into a vein (known as variolation), after which the small wound was bound up. Eight days later the young people had a mild fever lasting two days, after which they were immune to smallpox. Thousands were treated each year and the procedure had an excellent safety record.

The following year, on 18th March 1718, she allowed her five year old son, Edward, to be treated. The ‘ingrafting’ was carried out by "an old Greek woman, who had practised a great many years" and supervised by Dr Maitland.  Edward Wortley Montagu therefore became the first native of the UK to undergo this operation.


The Wortley Montagus returned to England, and in 1721 a smallpox epidemic swept the country. Mary had written articles anonymously about her experiences with smallpox treatment in Turkey, and she now asked Dr Maitland to inoculate her three year old daughter, Mary.  Later he inoculated other people in London, under Lady Mary’s patronage. Her campaign was helped by her friend, the Princess of Wales, who suggested the new treatment be tested on six condemned Newgate prisoners.  All six survived and, as recompense, were discharged as free citizens. The Princess’ two daughters were later inoculated with complete success using this variolation method. There were setbacks however, and it seemed the practice would not gain general acceptance. Some clergy believed the disease was one of God’s tools for shaping the destiny of man, so it would be sinful to try and outwit him! Then the Royal Society of London began to receive reports of the dramatic success of the technique in Massachusetts. The Rev. Cotton Mather, a Congregational minister in Boston, had read the Turkish accounts and despite opposition from sections of the clergy, remarkable results had been achieved. The 1721 Boston epidemic saw 6,000 afflicted with smallpox and 844 died. Mather encouraged all Boston doctors to use the method by informing them of the efficacy of ‘ingrafting’.

Who was Lewis Powell Williams? In a bid to discover more about him the Kibworth Parish Register for 1771 was inspected while it was still kept in the Vestry of St. Wilfrid's Church (now archived in the Leicestershire Records in Wigston). All entries for deaths during that year included the village or town of residence except for one entry - 9th January - Lewis Powell Williams -stranger. We can only presume he died suddenly while travelling through the parish as the King’s Highway (now the A6) was a major north-south route, and that sometime later relatives or friends erected the tablet. He still remained a man of mystery until in 1998 a local historian, Dr Christine Viall, gave me some more information that she had unearthed during research on Northamptonshire records.

Peter Razzell in his book, "Conquest of Smallpox" (1977) writes that the first inoculator to completely dispense with preparation was a surgeon by the name of Williams who placed an advertisement in the Northampton Mercury at the end of 1768:

‘INOCULATION WITHOUT PREPARATION (Established by a five years successful Experience, commonly called the Williams Short Method). Mr Williams . . . and a Number of Partners, have inoculated and lightly carried through many thousand persons without the usual tedious and too often injurious preparative Treatment by very strict Diet and strong Mercurial Purges ...’

So the "man of mystery" is now shown to have been an entrepreneurial doctor who took the Turkish variolation practice, simplified the technique so it could be used routinely, and set up in business in the Northampton area.

Twenty five years after Williams' death, Edward Jenner introduced in 1796 a truly safe form of inoculation with cowpox, a mild illness, and he showed that this also protected against smallpox. This new "vaccination" (after vacca - Latin for a ‘cow’) spread rapidly and childhood mortality greatly decreased. Inoculation with "live" smallpox was prohibited by law in 1840 but it was still practised in Afghanistan and China until the 1970s. Now, since the WHO 1980 proclamation, the smallpox virus can only be found in research establishments and even these final bastions are expected to be destroyed soon.

Published in Modern

stw2001   steeple
St WIlfrid's Church with steeple c.1791                                       Picture of the disaster 1825

Extract fromTHE GENTLEMAN’S MAGAZINE, August 1825

by James Beresford, (Rector of Kibworth 1812-1841) Kibworth Rectory 27 July, 1825

The awful event which has recently taken place at Kibworth, Co. Leicester, together with the causes that led to it, having been previously represented, I deem it proper to request your insertion of the following particulars authenticated by my own personal observation.

At 9 o’clock in the forenoon of Saturday last (Ed. 23rd July, 1825), the ancient and venerable tower and spire of Kibworth Church fell to the ground. Various symptoms of decay, about the lower part of the S.W. angle, had been discovered, and partially remedied, above 2 years ago. The originally defective materials having, since that period, more visibly yielded to the pressure of the superincumbent mass, Mr. Wm. Parsons, of Leicester, was called in about a month ago to inspect the state of the tower, and, under his direction, the masons had made considerable progress in the work of reparation. On Thursday last, however, the fissures and which had appeared in numerous places - were found to have increased in so alarming a degree, that Mr. Parsons was again summoned without loss of time. On his arrival on Friday morning, he ordered that the tower should be propped with inclining beams, till permanent support could be given, by removing all the decayed parts and supplying their place with strong masonry. The carpenters began their operations on Saturday morning, but were almost immediately compelled to desist. Violent disruptions in various places, accompanied by threatening sounds were now incessantly going on, and the site was left to its inevitable fate.

A short time before the final event, I had been informed at the Rectory that Mr. Oldfield, who had just arrived from Leicester, for the purpose of beginning to paint the pews, desired to see me at the Church. Unacquainted as yet with the imminent danger, of which Mr. Oldfield had been equally ignorant, I immediately went to Church, entered at the Chancel door, advanced towards the West end where the mischief was gathering, heard the noises before mentioned, suddenly retired by the same door, proceeded round the East end towards the North gate of the Church yard and there found the different workmen with a few other persons intensely watching the steeple, and, as they told me, every moment expecting its fall. I took my station among them, and in less than a minute after several premonitory crashings, the whole fabric bowed from the summit over the base, paused for a few seconds, and then, as with one collective effort, came down in a thundering cataract of ruins. A thousand years could not efface the impression made upon soul and my senses by the grand, the astounding catastrophe.

Through the immediate and most merciful interposition of God’s providence not a life was lost, not the slightest bodily injury sustained by human being.

Praise be to His Holy Name!


Published in Modern
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