St John the Baptist - Billesdon, Leicestershire
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member SMacB
N 52° 36.955 W 000° 56.290
30U E 639587 N 5831541
Quick Description: St John the Baptist church, Billesdon.
Location: East Midlands, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 3/18/2016 6:42:36 AM
Waymark Code: WMQQAY
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Dorcadion Team
Views: 1

Long Description:
"Billesdon church was given to Leicester Abbey by William de Syfrewast before 1162, and it is clear that by 1220 the abbey had possession of both the revenues and the advowson. After the Dissolution the rectory was leased to John Turville for 42 years from 1536, but in 1549 it was sold, together with the advowson, to the Earl of Huntingdon and Thomas Hazlewood. They were purchased by Thomas Skeffington from Francis Hazlewood in 1586, and both rectory and advowson descended together until the early 18th century when they seem to have been separated. In 1764 the rectory belonged to William Westbrooke Richardson and Piggott Ince. In 1765–6 they sold it to James Bellairs of Stamford, a banker, and James Davie of Lincoln. By 1791 it had descended to James Bellairs of Uffington (Lincs.) and the three heirs of James Davie. In 1832 the impropriators were a Mr. Linney and a Mr. Ostler of Grantham. In 1836 Linney had been replaced by a Mr. Stokes of Leicester. Nothing further is known of the rectory.

At the inclosure in 1765 the rectorial tithes were commuted for an allotment of land. The impropriators were entitled to the tithes, 2 yardlands of rectorial glebe and the attached rights of common, and another 7½ yardlands. At the inclosure they received allotments in lieu of the 2 yardlands and one-eleventh of the rest of the parish in lieu of tithes, a total of over 271 a. The value of the tithes in 1791 was estimated at £137 15s.

Presentations to the church were made by Leicester Abbey until the Dissolution. In 1549 the advowson was sold to the Earl of Huntingdon and Thomas Hazlewood; Hazlewood's widow presented in 1566–7 and Francis Hazlewood in 1571. In 1586 the advowson passed to Thomas Skeffington, who presented Anthony Cade in 1599. The advowson descended with the manor, although Katherine Skeffington was said to own the advowson in 1626 and 1633. Under the will of John St. Andrew (d. 1626) the reversion of the advowson after Katherine's death passed to a relative, William Bendish, who made his last presentation in 1660. Christopher Coles was presented in 1638 by a William Griffith who presumably exercised the right of presentation for one turn only. John Ekins presented in 1661 but the advowson had returned to the Skeffington family in 1668. Between 1668 and 1689 presentations were made by Christopher Coles, and one for him by John Smith in 1692. The advowson then passed to the Duke of Chandos who presented in 1730; in 1739 the presentation was made for one turn by Anne Thoroughgood, and in 1758 by John Chamberlain of Billesdon. Joseph Whittingham, the vicar, was the patron in 1764 and the advowson descended to his son in 1791. By 1793 it had passed to Henry Greene of Rolleston and remained the property of the Greene family until the death of the last Henry Greene of Rolleston in 1861. After this it was obtained by Victor Albert Spencer, Lord Churchill, who presented until 1927 when the advowson was transferred to the Bishop of Leicester, who was the patron in 1956.

The vicarage was ordained before 1220, apparently by Hugh of Welles. Charyte declared that the ordination, which does not survive elsewhere, stipulated that the vicar should have all the altarage. The vicarage was valued at 15 marks in 1217, 16 in 1254, and 24 in 1291. In 1428 the value had risen to 31½ marks, but had decreased to £14 9s. 10d. in 1535. In 1626 it was valued at £60 and in 1831 at £298.

Elaborate arrangements for the payment of tithes were laid down in the glebe terrier of 1635 and continued until the inclosure of the parish. The vicar, besides his house, ½ rood in the North Field, and pasture for 4 cows, a horse, and 20 sheep, was entitled to the corn and hay tithes of those closes which showed no sign of ridge and furrow (i.e. which were not clearly under recent cultivation), the tithes of wool, lambs, pigs, hemp, pigeons from dovecotes, eggs, geese, fruit, and bees, and a yearly rent from Rolleston. Property in Goadby is not described in this terrier, but according to those of 1679 and 1748 the Vicar of Billesdon owned a close of 44 a. and a house there, allotted at the inclosure. Two small tithe account books among the parish records cover the period from 1746 to 1761 and show the receipts of the vicarial tithes paid in kind. In 1635 the vicar received 4 fleeces for the tithes of 44 sheep, which belonged to a Fleckney man and had been wintered in Billesdon. It was then stated that according to the custom of the parish sheep wintering should be subject to the payment of tithes if they remained in the parish until midday on the day before Candlemas.

By the inclosure award the vicar received an allotment of 12 a. near the Vicarage in lieu of glebe and as much land as would be worth £55 a year in lieu of the small tithes. The whole allotment amounted to just over 108 a. The 12 a. near the Vicarage apparently supplemented a large garden or orchard. In 1821 the glebe near the Vicarage amounted to over 30 a. In 1847 the tithes of the very small area of old inclosure and the village itself were commuted for an annual payment of £2. The vicar also received tithes from Goadby and Rolleston. In 1956 the total glebe in Billesdon and Goadby amounted to about 130 a., some having been sold for building purposes in 1945.

The parsonage lies to the south-east of the church and is entered from the churchyard. It is built largely of ironstone and is said to have been begun by Anthony Cade when he was vicar. The lower part of the main range, which has a moulded stone doorway and mullioned windows, may be of the early 17th century. The roof was evidently raised c. 1700 when wood-framed windows with mullions and transoms were inserted on the upper floor. A semicircular brick bay at the rear has the date 1770 on the lead roof. The west wing of the house, also of brick, is an addition of the 19th century.

The north aisle of Billesdon church is traditionally the Rolleston aisle, and in 1607 part of the churchyard was said to be specially set aside for the burial of inhabitants of Rolleston chapelry. In the 18th century it was said that according to tradition a row of pews was built on the north side of Billesdon church for the people of Goadby chapelry. This seems doubtful in view of the fact that Goadby chapel had full parochial rights before 1220. Rolleston chapel had no burial rights and interments from Rolleston took place in the churchyard of the mother church. In 1869 a joint cemetery for Billesdon and Rolleston was set up under the Billesdon burial board, and opened in 1870.

The church of ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST is built of ironstone with dressings and some facings of limestone ashlar. It consists of a chancel, an aisled nave of four bays, a north porch, a south vestry, and a spired west tower. The south aisle and the vestry are additions of 1864 and the tower was rebuilt three years earlier.

The earliest parts of the building are the base of the tower and the north arcade of the nave, both of which were probably built before 1250. Four of the five piers of the arcade are octagonal, their capitals having thin mouldings which include a band of diminutive nail-head ornament. The central pier is composite and has a 'water-holding' base. The capital is crudely carved with stylized foliage and human masks. The arches are of two chamfered orders and have hood-moulds with carved head stops. The tower, which is a copy of the original one, has a lancet window in the west wall of its lowest stage. The two upper stages and the tower arch were probably completed in the second half of the 13th century. The two-light belfry windows contain geometrical tracery. The tower is surmounted by a squat broach spire with two tiers of lights. The circular moulded font may also date from the 13th century. Except for the east window the windows in the chancel have uniform Perpendicular tracery and it may be assumed that the chancel was rebuilt in the 15th century. The north aisle windows are also of Perpendicular character, some being very late in date. The aisle may represent a 14thcentury rebuilding but if so the windows are later insertions. It is almost certain that the church originally possessed a medieval south aisle but the evidence for the date of its removal is conflicting. Traces of a former aisle were found in 1864 when the new one was built, but nobody then living could remember it. Nichols mentions a south aisle c. 1798, but confusion may have arisen if his source was Throsby, who apparently refers to the nave as the 'principal aisle'. If there was no memory of it in 1864 it is unlikely that the aisle was in existence in Nichols's time. It had certainly disappeared before 1832.

The church was apparently in poor condition in the earlier 17th century. Extensive repairs were recommended between 1607 and 1633, many of which do not seem to have been carried out. In 1619 a south porch, which must have disappeared with the aisle, required slating. The archdeacon reported in 1776 that the chancel and tower were out of repair and that a new south door was needed. In this year 'Mr. Wing' was paid £65 for repairing the steeple and the east wall of the chancel was rebuilt. A square-headed east window in a wood frame, which still existed in 1864, may have originated at this time. Repairs were again necessary in 1794. Throsby, who visited the church in 1790, commented on the mean appearance of the interior. The floor was 'intolerable' and the 'principal aisle' was 'crowded with two shabby galleries, not unlike two large pigeon boxes stuck against a wall'. In 1832 it was reported that application had been made in vain to the impropriators for the repair of the chancel. The church was repewed in 1838. In 1832 cracks were noted in the tower and in 1842 they were said to be dangerous.

In 1861 Charles Kirk of Sleaford (Lincs.), architect, submitted a report on the fabric. As a result of his findings the church was temporarily closed while the tower was taken down and the south wall of the nave was shored up. The tower was rebuilt with a facing of limestone ashlar. The position of the staircase door was altered and a window was inserted in the ringing chamber; otherwise the original tower was copied. Further restoration of the church was held up for lack of funds, but in 1864 work was resumed. A newsouth aisle and south vestry were built, the chancel arch was reconstructed, a new east window was inserted, and the whole building was re-roofed to a steeper pitch. The chancel window which had been displaced by the new vestry was inserted in the north aisle. The aisle and porch were restored. It had originally been intended to build the south aisle entirely of Ancaster stone but in order to save money Billesdon stone from the Coplow estate was substituted for the walls. Two Perpendicular windows from the former nave wall were used in the aisle and another made to the same design. The arcade is a copy of that on the north side. The interior of the church was thoroughly restored and the old box pews, galleries, and high pulpit were cleared away. Further restorations and repairs took place in 1895–6, 1923, and 1926.

The oak font cover was probably provided about 1607 when the lack of one was commented on by the archdeacon at his visitation. Most of the other internal fittings date from 1864 to 1865. The chancel contains memorial tablets to Edward Thomas (d. 1836), vicar, and to another Revd. Edward Thomas (d. 1843). There is a marble tablet to Henry Greene of Rolleston (d. 1861), son of the Revd. Edward Thomas. In the north aisle is a tablet and a copy of a painting by Pinturicchio, both in memory of George Christian (d. 1925), vicar 1906–13. The east window in the north aisle contains memorial glass to Charles Thomas Freer of Billesdon Coplow (d. 1882)."

SOURCE - (visit link)
Building Materials: Stone

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