East Norton All Saints


The pleasing aspect of the exterior at East Norton church

Situated 12 miles east of Leicester the village of East Norton which the busy A47 passed through is now bypassed, and the road now passes to the south of the village. The census in 2001 records a population of 94, in other words a small village as most are in this area of Leicestershire. In medieval times the manor of East Norton belonged to the Priory of Launde, after the Reformation it passed like Launde to Gregory, Lord Cromwell and Elizabeth his wife.


View to nave and west tower arch, I have saturated the colours here from the original

By 1850 the village had over 150 inhabitants, a police station and Courtroom were built by Lord Berners but due to lack of room the lawyers and witnesses had to use the White Bull Inn next door. In 1962 the court was moved to Thurnby and soon after the pub closed as well. Originally the village had two pubs but like so many other villages they have gone, as have their post office and shop. The village which lies in Harborough district is now designated as a conservation area.


Another view of the fine west tower with recessed spire

The church dates from the 13th century and consists of a west tower (with spire behind battlements, probably 14th century), nave, chancel and north transept. In the south-west of the nave is a lancet window dating from the 13th century. Much of the church was rebuilt in 1849-1850 after being reported being in a dilapidated condition.

A Henry Goddard added the north transept for Lord Berners, a new chancel arch, and he also rebuilt the north wall of the nave. The pews and pulpit were also added at this time. The restoration of the chancel was funded by the Lord of the Manor, Tankerville Chamberlayne Esq. of Cranbury Park near Winchester who also presented the East Window. There was some dissent at the time of the Victorian restoration in that the Incorporated Church Building Society would have preferred a a small north aisle, and this resulted in no grant being made by the society.


Font by the south porch entrance with its fine tracery on each panel

The font is 14th-15th century, octagonal on plan with tracery on each panel. The tower contains three bells, and there is also a bench mark on the southern corner of the west wall of the tower showing the sea level of 434 feet.

The church is small and plain. With its whitewashed wall and stained woodwork it is pleasing to the eye, and although the building was mostly rebuilt in 1850 there is still some indication of its earlier origins. The church was open on my weekend visit which was unplanned (I was passing by) so it may be open if you visit. There are no facilities in East Norton so you need to go Tugby for a public house, or nearby Uppingham.


Interesting carvings above porch door

Although the church at East Norton is not that interesting from a architectural point of view it is worth a visit, in the sunshine the church with its golden stone has a pleasing appearance. I noted that on the south wall is a panel recording donations to the parish, in 1651 a Mr Richard Roberts, Ralph Holman, Richard Freefton, and George Bruthfield, Freeholders of the parish, left 12 acres and 12 perches of land for a cow pasture for the use and benefit of the Poor of East Norton for ever. In 1860 Lord Berners exchanged the above for 13 acres called Townsend Closes situated east of the village bounded by Turnpike road on the north. Firstly can anyone tell me what happened to this land (I see may such donations in many churches and always wonder if they still exist)?

There is some very interesting information on the village link below if you wish to read further on the village. I believe this church is open at weekends as it was on my visit.

Mr Dyson
You ask if the Townsend Closes charity field still exists. It does but is now bisected by the bypass (A47). It has not been referred to by that name for a long time but just as “The Charity Field”. The charity is now administered by trustees, having become detached from the church at some unknown date and for some unknown reason. It is now known as the East Norton Cow Pastures Charity and you will find a link from the East Norton pages to the information held by the charity commissioners. – Mr Dyson Sept 2009

The church at East Norton is OPEN. More information here.
Address details – All Saints, East Norton, Leics. LE7 9XA 

Author: Chris Jones

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  1. Hello Good morning,
    i hope someone can help me with my arcane research.
    I am researching the Chamberlaine family of the mid 17th century, and their lives in the West Indies.
    Edward Chamberlaine was born somewhere in Leicestershire in 1623, and died in Barbados in 1673.
    He married Mary Butler from Stotfold, Bedfordshire, probably in the 1640’s and they were buying land in Barbados in 1655 he was then Major Chamberlaine.
    He had four children in Barbados, 2 sons, Willoughby and Seagrave, and 2 daughters Butler and Tankerville.
    Butler’s life in the West Indies is a very important strand in my research. And what a life it was too!!
    I have recently become aware of the nearby villages of Willoughby and Seagrave, and also of the contributions to church restoration work by the 19th century gentleman Tankerville Chanberlaine, who apparently owned lands near East Norton.
    I wonder if anyone can help me fill in some of the gaps in my work prior to Edward and Mary sailing for Barbados.
    I know a lot about their lives after they arrived in the West Indies and would be very happy to share my knowledge, if anyone is interested!
    I hope someone may be able to help,
    Thanks and kind regards,
    Peter Lang
    P.S. You have a beautiful church.

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    • It is known that extensive rebuilding work took place in 1849-50 and it was reported in the Leicester Chronicle of 1850 that prior to the rebuilding the church was in a most dilapidated condition. The rebuilding was carried out under the direction of Henry Goddard, who added the north transept for Lord Berners, inserted a new chancel arch, and rebuilt the north wall of the nave. The pews and pulpit were also installed at this time. The restoration of the chancel was funded by the Lord of the Manor, Tankerville Chamberlayne Esq. of Cranbury Park near Winchester, Hampshire, who also presented the East window.However, this extensive work did not meet with universal approval, the Incorporated Church Building Society would have preferred a small north aisle, and this resulted in no grant being made by the society. The rebuilding work is evident in the small angular blocks used, which contrast with the mellowed medieval work.

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