History of Holy Trinity, Normanton-le-Heath

                               

 

         It is recorded that Normanton Church was built at exactly the same time as the main part of Westminster Abbey i.e. in the 13th century A.D., and the building time coincided with the reign of King Henry the Third (A,D 1216-1272).

                                

   The roof over the chancel (pictured above) is said to be designed in the same way as that in Westminster Hall.

 In the year 1220, Hugh, the Bishop of Lincoln, sent a scout to Normanton-le-Heath to report on the stone church, which at that time was in the vast Diocese of Lincoln. Later it became a chapelry of Nailstone. Both Normanton (Normenton) and Nailstone (Neyellstone) are mentioned in the Episcopal Register of 1209-35. Normanton is mentioned as a “tun” (settlement) of the Northmen or Norwegians and so we can assume that there was a wooden church there long before the Norman Conquest.

    “Normanton”, says Mr. William Burton (the Historian writing as early as 1597), "hath a Chapel with a fair spire steeple, wherein are these two coats:

Or, a Maunch Gules – The Hastings Coat of Arms, They owned the land here at one time.

Or, a Chevron Gules

The chapel consist of a neat castellated tower with a spire; chancel; nave; separated from the North aisle by three arches; as the chancel is by an old screen. In the chancel is a small piscina.

Anno Domini 1662 were Lawrence Farmer  & John Farmer churchwardens"

The lovely carved oak Reredos behind the Altar contains carved wooden statues of Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

   Within the rails of the Communion Table are two monumental inscriptions to the Bakewell family, and one at the West End of the North Aisle. 

The carved oak screen, just mentioned, which divides the Vestry from the North aisle, continues in front of the choir stalls and is 15th Century.

                                

 

RECENT CHANGES

   1970 -1990: Amongst many alterations additions and preservations carried out during these years was  the partitioning of the West end of the North aisle to form a parish room; renovation and re-hanging of the two bells and electrifying the organ power to replace the old hand pump; after the electrics were tested and found to be in a dangerous condition,  a new method of heating the church (overhead instead of under the pews) and new lighting were installed; refurbishing of the Altar with a beautiful new frontal;  pulpit and lectern with new falls – all especially embroidered by an expert needlewoman ; new curtains the North door, Vestry and on the East wall on both side of the alter, an new partion was erected to separate the South aisle from the Bell Tower, new carpets were fitted to the Chancel and the South aisle which brightened the whole church; North and South exterior wall were renovated and all leaded diamond shaped window glass was removed, cleaned, and renovated and replace. There is no coloured glass except a narrow decorative outline in certain windows in the South wall.

The Church now seats one hundred people in the old oak pews. At one time there were seats for one hundred and thirty-six people.

  2011-2013: Another period during which considerable work was carried out with the aid of a grants from English Heritage, Leicester Historic Churches and many others. The local community were exceptional in their support for the porject which was called 'Stamp out our Damp'. The work consisted of new below ground drainage, repairs to roof and gutters on the north side of the church, the hacking off, and renewal, of plaster on the north wall and a redocarting of all internal walls, together with conservation work to the Bakewell monument. The church, which had been suffering from considerable damp problems, is now greatly improved.

LOCAL LANDMARK

The Church has a graceful spire, the top of which has blown down twice in living memory.  Only a month after £500 had been paid out to have the roof repaired, the top ten feet of the spire was blown down in the big gale of 2nd January, 1976. £4000 worth of damage was caused but £2500 was needed to foot the bill of restoration as the church’s insurance at that time was inadequate. The folk in the village numbered fewer that 100 but they set to work and the whole Deanery (West Akeley) helped. 

    All the Deanery’s churches assisted in a week-long sale of contributed goods of all kinds in an empty shop in Market Street, Ashby-de-la-Zouch. Ashby Round Table organized a Barn Dance and personal donations, both large and small, were received. The money required to repair the spire was thus raised.  This spire can be seen for miles around, and was a sure guide to traveller’s centuries ago.

   

THE VILLAGE

     In the itinerary of 1280, Normanton is called Nomanton Super le Bruer.  In 1564 Normanton contained twelve families.  In 1800 by the “Return made to Parliament” Normanton contained thirty six houses and a population of two hundred.

Kelly’ Directory of 1922 describes the village thus;- “NORMANTON LE HEATH is a township and village on the borders of Derbyshire, and formerly a chapelry of  Nailstone, but was formed into a parish in 1852, three miles south-east form Ashby de la Zouch station on the Midland Railway and sixteen miles west-north-west for Leicester, in the Loughborough division of the County, Sparkenhoe hundred, Ashby de la Zouch, petty sessional division, union and county court district, rural deanery of West Akeley, archdeaconry of Loughborough, and diocese of Peterborough. The church of the Holy Trinity is an edifice of stone in the Decorated style of the reign of Edward III, consisting of two parallel naves separated by an arcade, a north porch and an embattled western tower with spire containing two bells. The church which is remarkable for the beauty of its windows, and has an ancient carved oak screen, was restored about 1853. in 1895 the church was renovated at the expense of Mr. Murray Smith of West Leake, Notts. The spire was restored in 1898 and new altar rails and an altar cloth were given in 1899. There are 150 sittings. The register dates from the year 1695 but is much defaced. The living is a rectory, net yearly value of £192, including 85 acres of glebe with residence, in the gift of the crown. There is a Wesleyan chapel. Lord Belper is lord of the manor and Thomas Oakey Esq. and George James Dakin Esq. are the principal land owners. The soil is mixed; sub-soil, clay and sandstone. The chief crops are wheat, oats and roots. The area is 1,366 acres; rateable value £1,925; the population in 1911 was 143… Public Elementary School (mixed) erected in 1846 for 40 Children”

An earlier directory (1899) mentions that the Wesleyan Chapel was originally erected in 1822 and was rebuilt in 1860, and that the school was built as a National School.

THE GREEN FAMILY

John Henry Bakewell Green, Rector of this Parish, built the Rectory. He was born in 1817 and died in 1899 aged 82 years. His daughter, Janetta Green, who died in 1902, bequeathed the sum of “555, the interest thereof to be distributed by the churchwardens in the “Winter Relief of the poor on Normanton-le Heath”. There is a plaque on the South wall to the right of the South door which refers to this bequest. Another plaque in the choir stalls refers to the two sons of the Rector who died in their 20’s.

POINTS OF INTEREST

     Look for the wonderfully ugly gargoyles on the tower and the two carved heads which support the East window (inside). It is said that it was customary to incorporate the carved heads of the King and Queen reigning at the time of the church’s building.

In the outside stonework of the South wall, to the left of the porch as one enters the church, one can see indentations which are reputed to be where swordsmen sharpened their swords.

                  


The church buildings
Webpage icon New floor in Normanton Church
Webpage icon Normanton Church I Spy
Webpage icon Holy Trinity, Normanton-le-Heath