The ancient borough
Lost churches

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Victoria County History

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R. A. McKinley (editor)

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1958

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388-389

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'The ancient borough: Lost churches', A History of the County of Leicester: volume 4: The City of Leicester (1958), pp. 388-389. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=66583 Date accessed: 23 November 2014.


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LOST CHURCHES

Of Leicester's medieval parishes, those of St. Peter, St. Clement and St. Michael, with their churches, had ceased to exist before 1600, and have never been revived. The history of these churches is briefly treated in the following sections.

St. Peter's

St. Peter's Church stood at the corner of West Bond Street and St. Peter's Lane, (fn. 1) and may have been in existence before 1066, although it is not mentioned by name until about 1200. (fn. 2) It is probable that like other churches in Leicester St. Peter's was given to the college of St. Mary de Castro in 1107, and passed into the possession of Leicester Abbey in 1143. (fn. 3) The church had been appropriated to the abbey by 1220, (fn. 4) and a vicarage was ordained before 1226. (fn. 5) For the rest of the Middle Ages the rectory of St. Peter's belonged to Leicester Abbey, (fn. 6) and at the Dissolution it passed to the Crown. The dedication of the church was changed in 1443, but no details of the change can be discovered, and the church continued to be known as St. Peter's. (fn. 7) In 1535 the vicarage was estimated to be worth £2 5s. yearly. (fn. 8) In 1563 the building was leased to Leicester Corporation, (fn. 9) and was adapted as a school. (fn. 10) The church had apparently begun to decay a considerable time before this, and was no longer used for ecclesiastical purposes. By 1563 there were only 27 families living in the parish. (fn. 11) The annual value of the living was in 1561 again reckoned at £2 5s., with an additional 4s. 6d. from tithes. (fn. 12) In 1563 the bells were being listed, and in the following year one was sold to raise money for the repair of the school building. (fn. 13) But the fabric was too far decayed to stand up to continual repair, and in 1573 the queen sold the church fabric to the corporation for £35, for the building of a 'substauncyall scoole howse meet and fitt for childarne to bee taught in'. (fn. 14) In 1591, after some dispute, the parish was united with that of All Saints. (fn. 15) By 1634 the churchyard was a cabbage patch. (fn. 16) The exact extent of St. Peter's parish is not known. Its topography is dealt with under All Saints'.

St. Clement's

It is probable that the advowson of St. Clement's, like those of other churches in Leicester, was given by Robert de Beaumont to the college of St. Mary de Castro in 1107, and transferred to Leicester Abbey in 1143. (fn. 17) In 1220 St. Clement's is recorded as being one of the churches in Leicester which belonged to the abbey, but the church, which was apparently already appropriated, then scarcely sufficed to support a priest. (fn. 18) In 1221–2 a vicarage was established at St. Clement's, the vicar being allowed a yearly stipend of 20s. and a corrody at Leicester Abbey, besides a corrody for his clerk. (fn. 19) The only later mention of the church occurs in 1331, when Philip Danet received a royal licence to give lands to the hospital of St. Leonard at Leicester so that the hospital might find a chaplain to perform the divine offices in St. Clement's Church. (fn. 20) Nichols quotes a deed referring to a St. Clement's Lane which ran towards Black Friars from near All Saints' Church, and on which he supposed that St. Clement's lay. (fn. 21) He advanced the theory that the church was given to the Dominicans, (fn. 22) but there is no direct evidence of this, and such a development would certainly have been unusual, though perhaps not unknown elsewhere. (fn. 23) St. Clement's had disappeared by 1526. (fn. 24)

St. Michael's

The church of St. Michael was situated near the west gate of the borough, probably near the corner of the present Vauxhall Street and Causeway Lane. It is probable that the advowson of St. Michael's, like that of other churches in Leicester, was given to the college of St. Mary de Castro in 1107, and subsequently, in 1143, to Leicester Abbey. (fn. 25) The abbey certainly possessed the advowson by about 1220, (fn. 26) and retained it as long as the church continued to exist. (fn. 27) Little information exists about the church; it had a priest and another cleric in 1200, (fn. 28) but about 1220 it was said to be so poor that it was scarcely able to support a priest at all. (fn. 29) It is not clear whether the church had been appropriated by 1220 or not. (fn. 30) Probably it had, for in 1221–2 a vicarage was established on the same terms as that at St. Clement's. (fn. 31)

By the end of the 15th century St. Michael's had become very poor. There was no vicar in 1487, (fn. 32) and the church was probably disused by about 1500. It is not mentioned in the records of the episcopal visitation of Leicester made in 1510. (fn. 33) The parish seems to have been united with that of St. Peter's. (fn. 34) The churchyard was sold to William Dethick, the town clerk, in 1592. (fn. 35) In spite of the disappearance of the church mention was made as late as the early 17th century of St. Michael's parish. (fn. 36) A guild was attached to the church during the 14th century, but apart from two bequests made to it during that century nothing is known about it. (fn. 37)

Footnotes

1 P. Hepworth, 'All Saints', Leic.', T.L.A.S. xxvi. 96. In 1892 part of the church was unearthed during building operations.
2 Leic. Boro. Rec. 1103–1327, 10.
3 V.C.H. Leics. ii. 45.
4 Rot. Hugonis de Welles, ed. W. P. W. Phillimore, i. 238.
5 Ibid. ii. 302.
6 See A. Hamilton Thompson, Leic. Abbey, 170–2, for a list of vicars presented by the abbey.
7 Assoc. Archit. Soc. Rep. & Papers, xxi. 300.
8 Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv. 148.
9 C. J. Billson, Medieval Leic. 73–74.
10 M. C. Cross, Free Grammar School of Leic. 10.
11 B.M. Harl. MS. 618.
12 Leic. Boro. Rec. 1509–1603, 100.
13 Ibid. 107, 110–11; V.C.H. Leics. iii. 48. The churchyard had already been leased: T. North, Chron. of Ch. of St. Martin, 167.
14 Leic. Boro. Rec. 1509–1603, 139–40. Demolition of the building had begun as early as 1571 when it was ordered that the timber from the church should be taken down and kept in safety with the lead: ibid. 133. In 1572, however, the corporation paid 5s. 6d. for 'watchinge of the leade certen nights at St. Peter's churche': ibid. 146. For the school, see p. 332.
15 Ibid. 271.
16 Assoc. Archit. Soc. Rep. & Papers, xxix. 518.
17 V.C.H. Leics. ii. 45.
18 Rot. Hugonis de Welles, i. 238.
19 Ibid. ii. 286; Hamilton Thompson, Leic. Abbey, 160.
20 Nichols, Leics. i. 295; V.C.H. Leics. ii. 34; Cal. Pat. 1330–34, 156.
21 Nichols, op. cit. i. 295; Billson, Medieval Leic. 70–71; see also J. Throsby, Hist. of Leic. 234.
22 Nichols, op. cit. i. 295; Billson, op. cit. 70–71.
23 W. A. Hinnebusch, Early Eng. Friars Preachers, 133 n. In nearly all the cases cited, however, the evidence is not strong: see V.C.H. Leics. ii. 34.
24 It is not included in the churches of the deanery of Christianity at Leicester in 1526: A Subsidy Collected in the Dioc. of Linc. in 1526, ed. H. E. Salter, 113–14. St. Clement's is also omitted from the 1535 Valor: Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv. 148.
25 V.C.H. Leics. ii. 45; Hamilton Thompson, Leic. Abbey, 168. On the site of the church, see Billson, Medieval Leic. 76–78.
26 Rot. Hugonis de Welles, i. 238.
27 Hamilton Thompson, Leic. Abbey, 168, lists the incumbents known to have been presented by the abbey.
28 Leic. Boro. Rec. 1103–1327, 9.
29 Rot. Hugonis de Welles, i. 238.
30 Ibid.
31 Ibid. ii. 285–6; and see above, p. 388.
32 Nichols, Leics. i. 347.
33 Assoc. Archit. Soc. Rep. & Papers, xxi. 109–12. St. Michael's is also not mentioned in the subsidy of 1526: A Subsidy Collected in the Dioc. of Linc. in 1526, ed. Salter, 113–14; or in the Valor of 1535: Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv. 148.
34 Billson, Medieval Leic. 77–78; Leic. Boro. Rec. 1509–1603, 277.
35 Leic. Boro. Rec. 1509–1603, 277. This seems to have been identifiable in 1791: J. Throsby, Hist. of Leic. 240.
36 Nichols, Leics. i. 327.
37 Leic. Boro. Rec. 1327–1509, 339; T.L.A.S. xiv. 153; ibid. xxvi. 95.