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Some Churches in Leicestershire & Rutland

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St Mary & St Hardulph, Breedon on the Hill

Photo of St Mary & St Hardulph, Breedon on the Hill

The photo on the left gives no idea of the unusual setting of this church, which thanks to quarrying has found itself perched on top of a hill whose sides have been dug away. Some of the views from afar are quite dramatic.

The church itself started as a monastic church in the 7th century but mainly dates from the 13th century with additions in the 15th century.

Interior of St Mary & St Hardulph, Breedon on the Hill

There is far too much of interest inside the church to show adequately here. In the past the Shirley family ruled the roost locally and this photo shows, on the left, the Shirley pew. Dating from 1627 this is an elaborately decorated wooden box which the family sat in, separate from the hoi polloi. To the right is the Shirley aisle containing three Shirley tombs carved from alabaster, one of which features a realistic skeleton. In the foreground are 18th century box pews.

 

 

Anglo saxon carving at St Mary & St Hardulph, Breedon on the Hill

But of course Breedon is most famous for its Anglo-Saxon carvings, which are thought to date from the early 9th century. On the left is a lion like beast, and the various designs include patterns, people and animals.

 

 

Anglo saxon carvings at St Mary & St Hardulph, Breedon on the Hill

Here we see a pair of figures (far left), a single figure holding a book and giving a Byzantine blessing (left), and a section showing cocks and birds pecking at grapes and vine fronds (below left).

On sale in the church is an excellent illustrated booklet by Brian CJ Williams which gives a history of the church and describes the carvings. As usual, the only way to truly appreciate all this is to go and pay a visit.

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