If you are visiting Foxton locks the short trip along the canal into the village to visit St Andrew’s church is very worthwhile. The attractive church sits on high ground overlooking the village and canal, with beautiful views across the Leicestershire countryside. The oldest part of the current church is the west end of the chancel and the lower stage of the tower which date from the 13th century. The north porch and north aisle date from the 14th century and the clerestory and top of the tower date from the 15th century. There are six bells in the tower which are rung for weddings and other church services. There is evidence that the current building replaced an older building on the same site. The font is Norman and dates from the mid 12th century and there are also the remains of a carved stone Saxon cross shaft in the church. A more recent addition to the church is an attractive modern stained glass window in the south aisle to commemorate the millennium.
Hallaton – St Michael & All Angels
In Hallaton the beautiful historic church of St Michael & All Angels is open every day from 9.00am to 6.00pm. In medieval times Hallaton was an important economic and pilgrimage centre, and the church reflects this. Built of ironstone and limestone, parts of the church date back to the Norman period with later additions. The 13th century tower has six bells and most of the rest of the building dates from the 14th and 15th centuries. The church has many gargoyles and carved heads, both inside and outside the building – fun for children to spot! The 15th century north porch contains some original timbers and has a dramatic carving of St Michael slaying a dragon – this is a tympanum and dates from Norman times. Inside the church there are many interesting features. At the west end of the north aisle is a Saxon grave marker, the oldest object in the church. Outside at the east end of the north aisle on a little turret the shields of the Bardolf and Engaine families who were Lords of the Manor.
Wistow – St Wistan’s
According to legend, Saint Wistan, Christian Prince of Mercia, was murdered by his cousin who wanted his throne and cared nothing for Christian religion. A church was built on the site of the murder and then replaced with the current Norman church with a later 13th century tower. The original Norman door can still be seen in the south wall to the right of the present porch. The church consists of a west tower, nave and a transept to the north. The altar is placed at the east end of the nave as there is no separate chancel.
In 1603 the church and manor were bought by the Halford family and in 1641 Richard Halford was made a Baronet by King Charles I. There is a fine memorial to him in the transept with his coat of arms above. Sir Henry Halford later made extensive improvements to Wistow Hall, and created the lake, at the same time diverting the road around it. He was also responsible for completing the Georgian restoration of the church, and his initials can be found on the drainpipe heads outside. The box pews were added in the 18th century.
Leicestershire Historic Churches Trust
Find out how you can help support the maintenance and restoration of the beautiful historic churches in Harborough District by visiting the website of the Leicestershire Historic Churches Trust www.lhct.org.uk