Preston Church – St Peter & St Paul

Preston Church View Large

Chancel area at Preston Church

This church is a delight. Usually I wait until the end to give my overall impression of a church, however in this case it warrants this in the first sentence. From its fine Norman arches, the beautiful chancel and its many interesting features this church deserves a visit. The afternoon sun lighting up the chancel through the southern windows is a fine sight, please ensure you visit on a sunny day to enjoy this peaceful place at it’s best.
Preston is a quiet village in Rutland of approximately 180 people. It is 2 miles north of Uppingham and some 18 miles from Leicester.

Preston Church South View

Preston Church South View

The parish is situated on the high ground and originally was recorded as a berewick (outlying manor or hamlet) of Ridlington in 1086, the village itself is not mentioned in the Domesday book. Various members of the De Montfort family held the manor at Preston and in July 1208 King John stayed here for two nights. After 1471 the advowson (the right in English law of appointing a nominee to a vacant ecclastical post) passed through various families connected to the manor and the Belgrave family were the last to appoint the rector.

Preston Church

Preston Chancel to Nave - note the old roof line in chancel arch

The church consists of a nave, chancel, north & south aisles, vestry, and a west tower with recessed spire with two tiers of lucarnes in the main directions. The north aisle bay dates from around 1150 with the southern one added a little later (circa 1200). The chancel arch was rebuilt later and at a higher level. The tower was added in the 13th century and some major remodelling took place in the 14th century. The font is 13th century of a plain bowl standing on four cylindrical legs.

Preston Nave and Font

Preston Nave and Font

The chancel dates from the 13th century, the sedile has slim shafts with leaf capitals and a fine trefoiled, ogee headed arch. There are also remains of other arches in the east wall. The whole south wall of the chancel with its windows, single sedile and the priests doorway is a rich mixture of carvings and styles that is very pleasing to the eye. It is also helped by the hanging lamps which came from the street called Straight in Damascus. There is also a carved Roman stone in the south wall.

Preston Church Chancel

The interesting south wall of the chancel with its many fine features

There are also other items from the Middle East, these were presented (as well as the chancel lamps) by Lt. Col. J.A. Codrington in 1923 and are at the entrance to the chancel. There are two pieces of mosaic pavement from the 5th century church of St John the Baptist in the Studion at Constantinople (now Istanbul) and also a piece of Verde Antique from the church of St Sophia at Nicaea. He also donated many other gifts to the church.
Outside the church the cypress trees were grown from seed collected from the Garden of Gethsemane, there is also a good sundial on the porch roof and the remains of a Scratch dial in the porch itself.

Preston Church Sundial

Preston Church Sundial

This church should be on your list to visit, it is very peaceful, set in a lovely location, so please just take your time taking in all the interesting features and ambience of this building. It is I believe open at weekends. I will return, but without a camera this time just to sit and look again at this wonderful church.
There is parking nearby and a pub for refreshments, although Uppingham is also near with all its amienities.
I am disappointed with the pictures. I didn’t capture what I wanted to do, this was the last church (seven on this day) and in hindsight it was probably rushed. I will return!!

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The church at Preston is normally OPEN. More information here
Address details St John the Baptist, Church Street, North Luffenham Rutland LE15 8JR 



Author: Chris Jones

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1 Comment

  1. 28/07/2010 Peter Maguire.
    I was lucky enough to visit the church on a gloroius autumn evening, the sun low over the fields to the west of the church. The modern stained glass window, high on the south wall cast a blaze of colour on the east wall – quite stunning, and I and a colleague thought how adventurous, and how successful the church had been in commissioning this modern piece in this lovely 12th/13th/14th Century building.

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