A brief history of Seagrave Church

Seagrave church is dedicated to 'All Saints' - a dedication that was popular in the 13th century. The North arcade of the church dates from that century, while the South arcade and aisle are 14th century. The difference is reflected in the piers and pillars, which are circular on the North side, but octagonal on the South. The tower also dates from the 14th century: it was perhaps being built at the time of the Black Death. Parts of the fabric are older still, and the present church almost certainly stands on the site of an earlier Saxon church. The font dates to an earlier period than the 13th century - probably late Saxon/early Norman - though its dated wooden cover is 19th century. The stone slab [known as a 'mensa'] on top of the communion table at the East end of the church is also of an early date. It was removed at the time of the Reformation, but restored to its original position in the twentieth century. Extensive work was carried out on the church in the late-nineteenth century, and the chancel essentially dates from this period. The deep vertical grooves on the stone arches of the South door and the entrance to the tower were probably made by medieval archers sharpening their arrows.

The chancel window on the South side is said to contain Murano glass from Venice. Its counterpart on the North contains a mistake, which is worth looking for (look at the rainbow!), as is one of the memorial stones before the communion table, the inscription on which can hardly have pleased neighbours of the person concerned. There have been a number of changes to the church in recent years - most noticeably, the insertion of a small meeting room, a kitchen, and a toilet. The two fragments of wall painting on the North wall of the North aisle, close to the North door, were revealed unexpectedly in 2013 when work to the aisle was being undertaken. They are part of a large St. Christopher scene which is likely to date from the first half of the 14th century. The head with the halo in the larger fragment is almost certainly that of the Christ child whom St. Christopher is carrying across the river. Both fragments have been professionally conserved and a framed description of them is attached to the aisle wall.

The church has three bells. The tenor bell was cast in 1595, while the second bell, though undated, is certainly older. These two are among the oldest bells in Leicestershire. The third bell dates to 1710. Above the doorway in the North wall is a case containing two old musical instruments - an ophicleide and a serpent. These were used to accompany singing in the 19th century before the introduction of an organ. The incumbents of Seagrave church have been traced back to the latter part of the 12th century, when the de Segrave family were the patrons. A list of rectors from then to the present day is attached to a pillar in the South arcade. The most famous name among them is Robert Burton, rector from about 1630 to 1639, who wrote The Anatomy of Melancholy, perhaps the first psychology text. The single face turret clock was made by Smith of Derby in 1893 – their name and the year are stamped on it. It was purchased by public subscription and installed in the church in 1947 as a memorial to villagers who served in the Second World War. It had previously been in Leicester’s Silver Arcade.

Details of the services at All Saints are given on the noticeboard. Further information on the services and on the church community can be found at the following website: www.achurchnearyou.com/church/5256/ or www.scsparishchurches.org.uk