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Church Post Code  LE15 9LN

Open to visitors

Visited September 2023

It was a glorious Saturday afternoon in September 2023, with hardly a cloud in the sky, and a mini three church crawl of Rutland. A friend who follows my websites had come over and we started the day at Uppingham before moving on to Stoke Dry (the page for which can be seen on this site) before ending up at the church of St Andrew at Lyddington.

All three churches were open on the day; which for the most part is normally the case in this most friendly and welcoming of counties. The church here though was in the process of setting up for a concert later that evening. It was fine to look around but I have included a few interior photographs from a previous visit as a stage had been erected for the day in the nave!

    Lyddington is a picturesque village which recorded a population of 383 at the time of the 2021 census, with no fewer than 69 different structures in the village having a Grade I or II Listing. The historic market town of Uppingham, the second largest town in Rutland despite only recording a population of less than 5,000 can be found just over two miles to the north.


The Northamptonshire and Leicestershire borders are a little way off to east and west respectively. It could be argued though that anywhere in Rutland is fairly close to a county boundary; Rutland measuring just 16,3 miles from north to south and 16.5 miles from east to west.

The village stretches out over the course of a mile, with attractive ironstone cottages lining the wide main street.  There are two pubs, and a small village green which has the remains of a medieval cross. There were very few people out on the streets; Lyddington was having a leisurely Saturday afternoon!

    Set at the side of the church of St Andrew, towards the south of the village, is Lyddington Bede House, which is owned by the National Trust and open to visitors. This originated as part of a palace belonging to the Bishops of Lincoln. By 1600 it had passed to Sir Thomas Cecil, son of Queen Elizabeth’s chief minister, who converted it into an almshouse for 12 poor ‘bedesmen’ over 30 years old and two women over the age of 45 years. A bedesman was literally a man of prayer, whose duty it was to pray for their benefactor. Bedesmen were usually pensioners or the poor.

    Also of interest is a 15th century watchtower between Church Lane and Main Street. This is a two storey octagonal tower and is looked after by English Heritage. This is a small village, but one that has a great history.


The church here is of Ironstone with limestone dressings. It consists of west tower, nave with aisles and clerestory, vestry and chancel. There are no porches here, the doorways having been bricked up in the past, and entry is through the west tower. The west tower and chancel date to the early to mid 14th century with the nave and aisles rebuilt during the late 15th century. The vestry was added in 1849 with the chancel and nave restored between 1889 and 1890. The tower was restored in 1902.

    The four stage tower is heavily buttressed; the tower is battlemented and there is a small broache spire with two tiers of lucarne windows. A badly damaged gargoyle holds his hands up to what remains of his head. The church clock looks out to the west.

Looking at the exterior from the south the three light windows in the aisle and the clerestory windows are each of three lights and perpendicular. The outline of a doorway that was filled in can be seen to the west end of the south aisle; with a similar doorway also filled in on the north side. The chancel is long and impressive with east window of four lights.

   At the time of North's Victorian study of the church bells of Rutland there were five bells hanging here, with all five having been cast by Tobias Norris III, who operated from a foundry at Stamford, in 1694. The fifth bell of the ring is inscribed 'Tobyas Norris cast us all 1694'. The Norris family had run a foundry in Stamford since early in the 17th century, with work continuing there until 1707. Today, a pub called the Tobie Norris, stands on, or close to, the area where the foundry stood. One of Norris' bells was re-cast by Taylor of Loughborough in 1961, with the same founder adding a sixth to the ring as recently as 1978.


Lyddington Bedehouse

    Moving inside, the first thing that greets the visitors coming in through the west door are two medieval coffin lids. One of these is of particular interest. The coffin lid contains a cut out, which depicts an effigy of the head and shoulders of the deceased. Also present is the hands of the deceased, raised in prayer, with something held between the hands. From experience of other carvings such as this, the hands may be holding a heart.  This is thought to date from the 14th century.

  Walking through in to the nave, the interior is bright and welcoming.  Apart from the odd fragment of stained glass up high, the glass in the nave is clear and the sun was streaming in through the windows on the south side. There are five bays to north and south side of nave, each tall and elegant, with each pier being made from four different shafts. Stone heads are scattered throughout the nave; a mixture of human and beast with the latter displaying some impressive beards and hairstyles reminiscent of church zoom services during the covid years. Standing at the chancel arch and looking to the west, traces of the previous roof line are visible from the time before the clerestory was added.

The beautiful interior; reflecting the wealth and importance of this church in medieval times, is normally peaceful and calm but not so on this day with the final touches being put to that evening’s concert. A few weeks after this visit’ I visited a church in Buckinghamshire; where a choir were just about to start practicing for an event later that evening. On entering, the choirmaster shouted over ‘If you are looking for peace and quiet you are out of luck’.


   To the east end of the nave are some very faded remains of some 15th century wall paintings. These are in poor condition sadly with the exception of the image of a man on the north east pier. At the time I could see a key being held so I assumed that this was a depiction of St Peter. Internet research after the event though suggests that it is likely to be Edward The Confessor, who gave Rutland to his wife Edith. What I thought was the circular end of a large key would have been a ring, and concerns the legend of King Edward giving a ring to a beggar.

    Legend states that Edward was riding to a ceremony at a chapel dedicated to St John the Evangelist in Essex when a beggar asked for charity. Edward had no money with him so he took off his ring and handed it to the poor man instead. A few years later two English pilgrims were travelling through the Holy Land and became stranded. They were helped by an old man who told them he was St John the Evangelist.   He was carrying the ring Edward had given to the beggar some years previously. He asked the pilgrims to return it to the king telling him that in six months he would meet St John in heaven.

    High up in the tracery are a couple of fragments of medieval stained glass. Both are just head and shoulders depictions, one of a golden haired Bishop with the other a King, with impressive beard and closed eyes.


    The chancel was heavily restored in 1902 and like many in Rutland is large and quite plain. Plaster has been pulled back from the stonework and on each side wall there are holes for five acoustic jars. These would contain ceramic vessels which, it was believed, would improve the sound quality of the singing.

The east window is of four lights. In the tracery we have Christ in majesty at the top; with the pelican in her piety. This is a pelican in the act of feeding her chicks with her own blood; this often used as a metaphor for the blood that Christ shed for us.

Four large panels show the nativity, with the shepherds alongside the manger and a fairly formal depiction of the crucifixion, with Mary the mother of Jesus and John in their traditional positions and Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross; simply at prayer rather than distraught as normally shown.

Below that we have four smaller scenes from the Old Testament. We see Moses rescued by the daughter of Pharaoh, Abraham being prevented from sacrificing his son Isaac and Elijah being taken up in a chariot of fire. The fourth had me puzzled and I opened this one up to suggestions on my Facebook page. The popular view was that it was Samson carrying the city gates of Gaza on his shoulders from Judges Chapter 16; with Jacob and his ladder and Moses with commandment tablets also being suggested.


Against the south wall of the chancel is a triple sedilia, the seating for the priests during the mass. Each of the seats is under an ogee headed canopy, with the seats being graduated a little; the seats higher the further east they are. This is so that the holiest person would sit to the east, on the highest seat, this being at the holiest part of the church. These seats are very low; indicating that the floor has been raised since the sedilia was added. Just to the east of the sedilia is a piscina in which the holy vessels used in the mass would be washed.

Against the north wall of the chancel is an aumbry, a cupboard in which the holy vessels used during the mass would be stored.

 A wooden 15th century screen separates chancel from nave, this having some very faded depictions of flowers and saints on it. The communion rails are interesting, dated 1635, they surround the altar on all four sides.

At the eastern end of the north aisle we can see a doorway, high up, above the wall painting of Edward the Confessor. This doorway would have led out on to the rood loft; the upper storey of the rood screen. This would have help the rood, a large depiction of Christ crucified, with Mary the mother of Jesus and John in their traditional positions alongside the cross. These were hated by the reformers and were taken down and destroyed as being idolatrous.


   There are some finely crafted 18th century gravestones in the church grounds here; but nothing in the grounds has its own Grade II Listing. Several of the gravestones depict an angel, which symbolised the safe escorting of the soul towards Heaven. There are a couple of other symbols worth noting here; with an anchor being an often used symbol of the Christian faith and a crown symbolising victory, with the victory here being over death.

   That was it for this three church mini crawl of Rutland. My friend had come a good few thousand miles to holiday in England and I wanted to show her three parish churches that might be of interest; to be fair though there are so many places of interest in this exquisite county that we could have gone almost anywhere and it would have been worthwhile.

The church of St Andrew is generally open to visitors. The bedehouse is run by English heritage and opening times can be found by checking out their website. If visiting Lyddington, be aware that this is an area of open churches so much for the interested churchcrawler to view. I would recommend the church of St Andrew at Stoke Dry though, a short distance off to the west which is a gem of a church!

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