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.
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.
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.
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.
Breedon on the Hill is halfway between Ashby de la Zouch
and Castle Donington in the north-west corner of Leicestershire. The A42(T)
runs just to the south of the village and junction 23a of the M1 is a
few miles to the east.