Woodville: St Stephen, Woodville
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Woodville can lay no claims to be a beauty spot or to possess a wealth of ancient buildings. The parish Church of Saint Stephen is one of the few buildings that lays any claim to antiquity. It was in 1843 that the Rev. J.B. Sweet came to Ashby-De-La-Zouch in the diocese of Peterborough as a curate. He took special charge of the district then known as ‘Wooden Box’, the turnpike road from Ashby to Burton, of which all that remains is ‘Woodville Tollgate’.
Only three months after his arrival, Rev. Sweet called a meeting to raise funds for the building of a church to serve the population of some 650 people which by then were resident in the district. This committee met for the first time on Saint Stephen’s day, 1843 and hence the decision to dedicate the new church in honour of Saint Stephen. Queen Adelaide appears to have taken some interest in the projected building of the church and to have contributed towards its cost.
Her interest in the locality is no doubt perpetuated by the name of the Queen Adelaide public house which used to stand in the High Street.
In 1845 enough money had been raised to justify work being commenced, though as late as April 1846 the building committee had to send out an urgent appeal for £835 still needed to complete the building and a very modest endowment of the living. It was in connection with the formation of a new Parish that the worthy inhabitants of those days expressed a wish for a more ‘euphonious’ name than wooden box and at their request the new chapelry as it was called, was renamed Woodville.
On November 7th, 1845 the foundation stone of the new church was laid by Earl Howe. By December 8th, 1846, the church was ready for consecration and an imposing service took place at 11.00am that morning, in the presence of many local clergy, the chief inhabitants of the district and some notable visitors. The Lord Bishop of Peterborough, duly consecrated the church with the Rev. J.B. Sweet as the first vicar.
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The current editor is: David Eyrl