All Saints' Church, Yelvertoft

Brief Description

There has probably been a church on this site since Saxon times. There certainly was one mentioned in Domesday (1086) but no visible traces of that age remain.

The lofty chancel and only slightly taller nave were built of local cobbles in the early 12th century in Norman style. Towards the end of the 13th century the tower[1] was built, the east wall of the chancel rebuilt and the rooves of the nave and chancel flattened in pitch. The plastering, with its imitation ashlar scoring, is possibly Victorian.

In about 1330 the nave walls were pierced and the north and south aisles added. Also at this time the clerestory windows were inserted. In the 15th century a second south aisle was built, which makes the church unusual, and the magnificent south doorway [9] of the earlier aisle was rebuilt onto the new one. The three orders of carved bell-flower and fleuron ornaments are protected by the porch but still suffer weathering. You will notice that the arches of the original nave wall are not aligned with the south door. You may also notice that the chancel arch appears not to line up with the nave roofline.

The chancel and sanctuary floors[3] are covered with splendid tiles, believed to be Minton. Half of the north wall of the sanctuary is occupied by a splendid perpendicular style tomb and half window. Outside [5] is a panel of 28 escutcheons, which were originally painted. Inside [4] lies an alabaster figure of a priest, still bearing traces of paint, possibly dating to the 15th century.

In the sanctuary can be seen a carved sedilia of three stalls [11]. This obviously predates the window above it, which was inserted in the 19th century. Local legend has it that the grooves in the stonework were caused by Cromwell’s soldiers sharpening their weapons before the Battle of Naseby in 1645. Next to the sedilia can be seen a piscina and aumbry.

The east window is of painted glass and has suffered the ravages of time and over-enthusiastic cleaning.

The organ [2] is by Norman Beard and is dated 1908. It is a two-manual instrument and leads the choir every Sunday.

The Lady Chapel [6] south window was blown out during World War II. Most of the glass is therefore very recent but the tiny triangles at the top are original and date from mediaeval times.

In the nave are some richly carved pew ends of west country origin. They were installed in 1870 but are probably much earlier in origin. A copy of Mappa Mundi [12] can be seen on the west wall.

Near the carved font [8] can be seen a sheet of lead taken from the roof. It bears the names of church wardens and the plumber. On the south wall there is a memorial to the crewmen of two WWII aircraft which collided in the air at the edge of the village, causing much blast damage. Above the south door can be seen painted boards describing village charities, which are still extant.

On the floor at the end of a pew there is a brass plate [10] commemorating Richard Ashby, a local benefactor who was one of the founders of the original village school in 1711. The school occupied the building in the high street now known as the Reading Room.

The tower houses a ring of five bells, cast locally in 1635 by Hugh Watts II of Leicester. One of the bells has coins cast into its rim. As far as is known the bells have never been out of the tower since first being installed. The castellation at the top of the tower was renewed in 1959 and a new bell frame installed at the same time. In 1989 the local ringers added a sixth bell. This was designed by a direct descendant of Hugh Watts to match the originals as nearly as possible. The bells are rung every Sunday for service.

In 2000 a rural churches millennium grant enabled the outer south aisle to be enclosed to form a meeting room [7], with kitchen facilities made from the removed pews. At the same time the ringing floor was raised to accommodate a toilet and choir vestry.