A History of the County of Leicestershire: Volume 5, Gartree Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1964.
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Great Glen ancient parish consists of two townships, Great Glen and Great Stretton. Great Stretton is a chapelry of Great Glen ecclesiastically, but for civil purposes it seems always to have formed a separate unit. It is therefore described in a separate section, (fn. 1) and the article which follows is concerned mainly with Great Glen township and civil parish.
Great Glen village lies six miles south-east of Leicester, and the township covers 2,134 a. (fn. 2) A small area in the north-west of the township was transferred to Oadby in 1936. (fn. 3) The greater part of the township is formed by an approximately rectangular area, consisting of the Sence valley and the rising ground on either side. To the north-west of this, the township's boundaries stretch out to include some higher land beyond the Sence valley. On the eastern boundary the ground on the east bank of the Sence rises to 443 ft., and in the north-west of the township the land rises to over 400 ft. The small River Sence runs through the township approximately from north to south. Near the village it is joined by a tributary brook running in from the east. The surface soil is boulder clay. The underlying Lias strata are exposed in the valleys of the Sence and its tributary. There are small patches of gravel, and the valleys contain small stretches of alluvium.
The road from Market Harborough to Leicester through Great Glen was turnpiked in 1726. (fn. 4) The bridge of five small brick arches carrying the road over the Sence was built by the turnpike trustees in 1751. There had evidently been an earlier bridge, for in 1521 Robert Greene left money for the repair of the great bridge at Glen. (fn. 5) The Grand Union Canal crosses the southern part of the township; this section of the canal was built in 1792-7. (fn. 6) The Midland Railway's line from Leicester to Harborough, passing through the township, was built in 1857. (fn. 7) The railway station, about a mile south of the village, was opened the same year. (fn. 8)
The recorded population in 1086 was 45. (fn. 9) Twentytwo inhabitants of Great Glen, 9 of them women, are listed in the 1381 poll tax returns. (fn. 10) There were 20 households in 1563 and 63 in 1670. In 1603 there were 238 communicants, and in 1676, 249. In 1801 the population of Great Glen, excluding Great Stretton, was 549. During the 19th century the population rose steadily, and in 1881 it was 854. By 1891, however, it had fallen to 704, perhaps as a result of the late-19th-century agricultural depression and of the attraction exercised by Leicester's prosperous industries. After 1891 the population rose slowly, and in 1951 it was 925. (fn. 11)
The village is divided roughly into two parts. The southern part is on low-lying ground in the angle between the Sence and its tributary and is still liable to flooding. It is centred on the main road and on a small triangular green which was formerly an inclosed cattle pasture belonging to the lord of the manor. The ground was given to the village in 1919 by Major (later Col.) E. C. Packe as a site for the war memorial. (fn. 12) This part of the village, which contains two large inns, probably came into existence at a comparatively late date, perhaps to meet the needs of main-road traffic in the 18th century. It also includes several farm-houses built after the inclosure of 1758-9. Main Street, not built up until the later 19th century, runs northwards from the green to meet the road leading east from the parish church towards Burton Overy. The northern part of the village lies on both banks of the river near the junction of these two roads. This area, which contains mostly cottages, was almost entirely built or rebuilt in the 19th century, probably in the first instance to house framework-knitters and later as a result of the rise of small-scale industry in the village. The position of the parish church to the west and the survival of one or two older cottages near the river suggest, however, that this may have been the original village centre. From the built-up area a road leads north to Great and Little Stretton. On the outskirts of the village there is a considerable number of large residences in their own grounds, mostly situated near the main road.
Only one timber-framed house appears to have survived. It stands on high ground in the northern part of the village and the curved principals of its gable-end truss are visible behind the blacksmith's shop in High Street. (fn. 13) The house probably dates from the 17th century. A mud-walled cottage in the south-west corner of the village is said to have been demolished in 1930. (fn. 14) The White House, near the green, was altered and enlarged in the early 19th century but retains a back range built of ironstone. This is thought to be the house in which Prince Rupert passed the night before the battle of Naseby. (fn. 15) A house in Brook Road near the river, formerly the Fox and Goose Inn, is dated 1719.
From the 18th century onwards red brick, much of it probably made locally, (fn. 16) was the universal building material. There are several houses near the green with good symmetrical Georgian fronts. Trent House, next to the Crown Inn, is a threestory house with a moulded brick cornice and is thought to date from 1760. The Firs, north of the green, is of a similar type. Both the 'Crown' and the 'Greyhound' are largely of the 18th century, but there are indications that the 'Greyhound' has an earlier origin. Both have extensive outbuildings. In a cul-de-sac west of the green are the Old Malt House and Bassets. The former has a good threestory front of the late 18th century; the latter is of two stories and dates from the second decade of the 19th century. (fn. 17) The former mill, which lies on the brook to the east of the main road, is now a private house. The mill wheel still exists at the west end of a range of altered buildings of c. 1800. These included the mill-house and a bakery. Two of the larger private houses are mentioned as 'good houses' before the end of the 18th century, (fn. 18) but both have been much altered; Glen House, immediately north of the church, was for many years the home of the Haymes family; The Yews, south-east of the church, was probably the house occupied by George Cooper at the time of the inclosure. (fn. 19) The Hall is an early19th-century stucco house with wide eaves, a threebowed front, and a curved verandah. It stands to the east of the village in parklike grounds containing a small lake. Stackley House, situated in a small park on the northern boundary of the parish, is a gabled brick building with stone dressings. It was constructed, by making additions to an existing farm-house, for G. V. L. Braithwaite (d. 1895), (fn. 20) probably in the late 1850's. (fn. 21) It became the residence of J. R. Frisby (d. 1929) (fn. 22) in 1920. The eastern wing of the house was added in 1931. (fn. 23) Great Glen House and Great Glen Manor lie on opposite sides of the main road on high ground in the extreme south-east of the parish. Great Glen House is a large mid-Victorian house and Great Glen Manor was built in 1907 for R. W. Kaye by the architect H. L. Goddard. (fn. 24)
In the northern part of the village are several early- and mid-19th-century rows of cottages. Peep Row in Main Street is a range of 10 dwellings said to have been built for framework-knitters. It has considerable architectural character, having large chimneys and diagonally-glazed windows with moulded hoods. (fn. 25) Cottages built in the later 19th century appear to have been largely the work of the lords of the manor and of Thomas Crick, a pioneer of the shoe industry who lived in the house known as Rupert's Rest after 1858. (fn. 26) A cottage pair in Main Street has initials c.w.p. (Charles William Packe) and the date 1846, while one in High Street is dated 1851. Five more in High Street were built by Charles Packe in 1874. Thomas Crick's houses include Console Cottages, flanking the earlier Royal Oak Inn in High Street, and a row in Main Street. Both are dated 1874. Standing back from the main road between Great Glen and Oadby is Crick's Retreat, a row of 10 stone-fronted dwellings. (fn. 27) It carries the date 1870 and a plaque showing a shoe-maker at work. At Hill Top, on the road to Burton Overy, are late-19th- and early-20th-century houses and several private residences built in the 1950's. There is also some 20th-century development on the main road and on the road to Stretton. At the junction of Stretton Road and Oaks Road is a large Council housing estate built after the Second World War.
William Hewett, lord of the manor during the Civil War, was an active parliamentarian. (fn. 28) After the battle of Naseby in 1645 the royalists were pursued as far as Great Glen, where the pursuit was checked by a small body of royalist horse under the Earl of Lichfield. (fn. 29) On the day after the battle the main parliamentary army marched to Great Glen, before attacking Leicester. (fn. 30)
In 1086 GLEN (later GREAT GLEN or GLEN MAGNA) was held by Lovet and Alwin from Hugh de Grentemesnil, who held from the king. Lovet held 17 carucates and 2 bovates, with the mill and 30 a. of meadow, while Alwin held one carucate only. (fn. 31) On the death without male heirs of Roger de Quency, Earl of Winchester, in 1264, it was found that he was the chief lord of Great Glen, (fn. 32) and it is probable that, like many other Leicestershire manors, Glen passed from the son of Hugh de Grentemesnil, Ivo, to the earls of Leicester, and from them to their heirs, the earls of Winchester. After 1264 the manor passed to Roger's daughter and co-heir Ellen and her husband Alan la Zouche, who was already holding Glen as under-tenant of the Earl of Winchester. (fn. 33) Glen at this time seems to have been considered as a member of the rather remote manor of Ashby-de-la-Zouch. (fn. 34) After the death of Alan la Zouche, grandson of the Alan previously mentioned, in 1314, the descent of the manor was disputed. Alan's immediate heirs were his two daughters, and in 1315 it was ordered that Glen should be handed over to the younger of them, Maud, and her husband Robert de Holand. (fn. 35) The manor was, however, also claimed by William la Zouche of Richard's Castle (Herefs.), who alleged that the reversion had been settled on him in fee. (fn. 36) In 1323, after Holand had temporarily forfeited his lands for rebellion, (fn. 37) it was stated that he had distrained the tenants of the manor to do fealty to him, but that they had continued to do service to William la Zouche. (fn. 38) William's son Alan was still claiming Glen in 1342, (fn. 39) but Robert de Holand at his death was able to transmit the manor to his son, another Robert, (fn. 40) from whom it eventually descended to Maud, the younger Robert's granddaughter, and her husband John Lovel. (fn. 41)
Under these tenants-in-chief the Martell family were under-tenants in the 13th century. Eudo Martell possessed land at Glen about 1220, (fn. 42) and in 1265 William Martell, who had inherited land at Glen from his father Ivo, (fn. 43) was said to possess 7 virgates in demesne and 14 in villeinage there. (fn. 44) Robert Martell was still holding land at Glen in 1279, (fn. 45) but subsequently the male line of the Martell family seems to have died out. In 1314 Glen was being held by John and Peter, sons of one Reynold. (fn. 46) Nothing further is known about the share of Glen obtained by John, but Peter certainly held his portion in right of his wife Ela, (fn. 47) who may have been an heiress of the Martell family. From Peter and Ela the holding descended to their son Roger, who was known as Roger Martel; his holding at Glen was referred to as a manor in 1333. (fn. 48) Roger's son Henry in turn inherited the manor, (fn. 49) and at his death in 1352 was holding it from Robert de Holand. (fn. 50) Henry's two elder sons Alan and Thomas each inherited the manor in turn, but both died without issue (fn. 51) and the manor passed to their brother John, and after his death to his daughter Elizabeth, wife of John Bonville. (fn. 52) John Bonville died in 1396 in possession, jointly with his wife, of the manor, held of John, Lord Lovel. (fn. 53) Bonville's heir was his son William. (fn. 54) Elizabeth Bonville married secondly Richard Stuckley, (fn. 55) who was holding the manor in 1421. (fn. 56) Presumably Elizabeth held the manor in dower after Bonville's death. Some attempt seems to have been made to settle the manor on the issue of Elizabeth's marriage with Stuckley, (fn. 57) but this was unsuccessful and in 1421 William Bonville regained possession. (fn. 58) William, at his death in 1461, was succeeded by his great-granddaughter Cicely, who was married to Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset. (fn. 59) Eventually the manor descended to Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, the marquess's grandson, and it fell to the Crown when the duke was attainted in 1554. (fn. 60) The manor was still in the queen's hands in 1579, (fn. 61) but at some unknown date it was granted away, and by about 1606 it had been acquired by a Mr. Gilbert. (fn. 62) Gilbert sold the manor, before 1619, to George Neale. (fn. 63) In 1633 Neale settled the manor on his niece Frances and her husband William Hewett, with reversion to their son Neale Hewett. (fn. 64) On the death of Neale Hewett's descendant William Hewett in 1766, Great Glen manor was inherited by his grand-niece Dorothea, wife of Sir George Robinson, (fn. 65) whose family possessed it until it was sold in 1838 or 1839 to Charles William Packe, of Prestwold. In 1956 the owner was Col. E. C. Packe. (fn. 66)
In 1086 there were in Great Glen 20 socmen, 14 villeins, 6 bordars, and 2 serfs with 3 bondwomen. On the lord's demesne were 3 ploughs, while the tenants had six. There were 30 a. of meadow. The main holding of 17 carucates and 2 bovates was estimated to be worth £6, while a smaller holding of one carucate was valued at 5s. (fn. 67) In 1279 there were 2½ carucates in demesne in the Martell fee, and 8½ carucates in villeinage; there were also 5 free tenants each holding a virgate, and one holding half a virgate. (fn. 68) This represents a considerable reduction in the number of free landholders as compared with 1086, if the 20 socmen enumerated in Domesday Book can be considered as roughly equivalent to the later free tenants. The small ratio which the demesne bore to the land in villeinage suggests that the villein's labour services on the demesne may have been relatively light. An inquisition taken in 1352 shows that a triennial system for the rotation of crops had been adopted, with one-third of the land lying fallow. A separate pasture, estimated in the same inquisition to be worth 6s. 8d., may have been inclosed. (fn. 69)
In 1272 the lord of the manor was granted the right to hold a market at Glen on Mondays, and a yearly fair on the vigil of St. Cuthbert's Day, the day itself, and the morrow. (fn. 70) In 1348 a new royal charter fixed Friday as market day and the vigil day and morrow of St. Philip and St. James as the period for the fair. (fn. 71) Neither the market nor the fair survived, apparently, in 1792. (fn. 72)
Of the 22 taxpayers in Great Glen in 1381, the most heavily taxed were Nicholas Waleys and his wife Isabel, who paid 5s. Nicholas was described as a 'franklyn' and was presumably a substantial freeholder. There were in addition 5 married couples, who are described as 'holders of land', and 6 male and 2 female 'servants'. John de Newton, a shepherd, is the only person whose exact occupation is given. As the landholders were only taxed at 1s. a head, the average contribution for the whole population, they were probably no more than small free tenants. (fn. 73)
In the Tudor period the manor changed hands several times after the attainder of its lord, the Duke of Suffolk, in 1554, and the possessions of religious houses and guilds, to which a grant of property in Glen had been made as late as 1495, (fn. 74) were sold by the Crown. (fn. 75) It may have been at this time that the manor-house ceased to exist. It had apparently disappeared by 1619, (fn. 76) and its site is unknown. There is no evidence of any inclosure in the township at this time, and in the 17th century, apart from the open fields and common pastures, areas of heathland still existed. (fn. 77)
The village fields were inclosed in accordance with two Acts, one of 1758 for the North End fields and one of 1759 for the South End fields. (fn. 78) It is not clear why there were two separate Acts, which must have added considerably to the expense. The initiative in presenting petitions for both Acts was taken by William Hewett, lord of the manor and impropriator of the great tithes, Caleb Robinson, the vicar, and a number of other landowners, of whom George Cooper, Green Hodgkin, and Robert Haymes were the most important. Hewett owned more than onesixth of the North End fields, and more than onequarter of the South End fields. (fn. 79) George Cooper was allotted by the awards more than 130 a. in the South End fields and 21 a. in the North End fields; Hodgkin received 44 a. in the South End and 148 a. in the North End fields. The smallest proprietor amongst those supporting the petitions was John Linthwait, who received 27 a. in the North End fields. (fn. 80) Opposition to both Acts came largely from those who possessed only a few acres. Among the opponents was Christian Cooper, who possessed 1¾ yardland (fn. 81) and was awarded 28 a. (fn. 82) The other 13 opponents of the North End inclosure possessed only 1¾ yardland between them. (fn. 83) The 7 opponents of the South End inclosure possessed a total of 3 yardlands. (fn. 84) The total area inclosed in the North End fields was 1,040 a., and in the South End fields, 931 a. In the South End fields William Hewett, as impropriator, obtained in commutation of tithes 117 a. and a further 7 a. in lieu of the 'tithe pieces' possessed by him. In the North End fields he obtained as tithe impropriator 134 a. As lord of the manor Hewett was awarded 242 a. in the South End fields and 185 a. in the North End fields. In compensation for the minor tithes, for two customary payments known as garden penny and smoke penny, and for Easter offerings, the vicar obtained under each of the two Acts a yearly rent of £16, (fn. 85) which was to be levied from all lands save those allotted to the vicar and impropriator. The total cost of the South End inclosure was £680 8s., and of the North End inclosure, £534 18s. 6d. (fn. 86)
Many of those affected by inclosure for long continued to work holdings apparently too small to be economic; in 1775 the freeholders at Great Glen included David Grant, Thomas Terry, and James Wright, (fn. 87) all three of whom obtained less than 10 a. under the inclosure awards. The small-holders may have engaged in domestic industry, particularly framework-knitting, which was widespread in Great Glen during the early 19th century. In 1831, and again in 1846, it was stated that the population of Great Glen consisted mostly of framework-knitters, (fn. 88) while in 1830 a framework-knitter was in possession of a freehold house and land, as were two woolcombers. (fn. 89) In 1958, however, there were no factories in Great Glen.
A mill was stated in 1086 to render 3s. yearly. (fn. 90) In 1265 there was a watermill in Glen worth 15 marks yearly, (fn. 91) and in 1352 a windmill there was valued at one mark yearly. (fn. 92) A watermill is mentioned again in 1521, (fn. 93) and a windmill in 1563. (fn. 94) At the time of the inclosure the owners of the watermill at Glen were granted the right to spread the scourings from the mill pool over certain land allotted to William Hewett. (fn. 95) The watermill, east of the village, still existed in 1885, (fn. 96) but by 1958 the mill-house had become a private house. (fn. 97)
Great Glen in 1802-3 kept a workhouse in which 14 persons were relieved, and 48 adults and 43 children received outdoor relief. (fn. 98) There are surviving accounts of overseers (1785-1884, with gaps) and constables (1806- 18). (fn. 99) In 1802-3, 427 vagrants received relief. (fn. 100) In 1836 Great Glen with Great Stretton was included in Billesdon Union. (fn. 101) The accounts of the surveyors of the highways have survived for the years 1779- 1804, 1850-3, and 1854-7, (fn. 102) and of the churchwardens from 1783 to 1919. (fn. 103)
In 1140, Ralph Butler (pincerna) granted the church of Great Glen to Alcester Abbey (Warws.), (fn. 106) which retained the patronage until the 15th century. About 1220 it was stated that an annual pension of 2 marks was paid to the Abbot of Alcester by the rector. There was at that time also a vicar, who paid a pension of 6 marks to the rector but retained the remainder of the revenues. (fn. 107) Probably by grant of an early Earl of Leicester, (fn. 108) the Norman abbey of St. Evroul (Orne) received twothirds of the tithes of Eudo Martell's demesne in Great Glen. (fn. 109) In 1238 or 1239 a new rector was instituted by Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, under the authority of papal letters, (fn. 110) but in the following year the rector was removed by the decree of papal judges delegate and, after an inquest had been held by the Archdeacon of Leicester, a new rector was presented by the Abbot of Alcester. (fn. 111) The displaced rector renounced his rights in return for a pension of 12 marks a year. (fn. 112) No further details are available about this incident, which was probably connected with Grosseteste's struggle to secure better clergy for the churches under monastic patronage by closer episcopal control. A later bishop, Richard Gravesend, was largely successful in the contest so far as concerned Great Glen. In 1266 he ordained a vicarage there: Alcester Abbey was to have the tithes of corn and hay in Great Glen, and was to sustain the ordinary burdens of the church, including an annual payment of half a mark to the archdeacon; the vicar, to be presented by the abbey on the nomination of the bishop, was to have a house, all the glebe in Great Glen and Great Stretton, the tithes of corn and hay in Great Stretton, all offerings, and all other tithes. (fn. 113) In 1278 Alcester Abbey, in a letter undertaking to observe the conditions laid down by Bishop Gravesend, agreed that if the value of their tithes of corn and hay was found to exceed 20 marks in average years, the excess should be handed over for the vicar's use. (fn. 114) There is evidence that Gravesend's regulations for the presentation of the vicars were in fact carried out. (fn. 115) Little change can have been caused at Great Glen by the control exercised over Alcester by Evesham Abbey from 1465 onwards, though from that date Evesham Abbey acted as patron. (fn. 116)
At the Dissolution the rights of Evesham Abbey passed to the Crown, though in 1544 the presentation was made by Richard Schiplowe, of Norton near Evesham, by virtue of a grant made by the abbey before the Dissolution. (fn. 117) When the next vacancy arose, in 1546, the Crown presented, (fn. 118) and in May 1550 Glen rectory was sold to Thomas Reve, Henry Herdson, and John Johnson, three Londoners who were prominant speculators in monastic property. (fn. 119) It was bought by Erasmus Smith of Somerby at some time before 1557, in which year he presented a new vicar. (fn. 120) From Erasmus Smith the advowson passed to George Neale, who was patron in 1625, (fn. 121) and subsequently descended with the manor. (fn. 122) In 1951 the patron was Col. E. C. Packe. (fn. 123)
The net annual value of the rectory in 1254 was 13 marks, and in 1291, 17 marks. (fn. 124) There is little evidence on the later value of the rectory until the 16th century, when it came into lay hands. (fn. 125) The lay impropriator at the time of the inclosure of the open fields (1758-9) received 258 a. in compensation for the great tithes. The gross annual value of the vicarage was £11 18s. 2d. in 1266, £8 in 1291, and £12 14s. in 1535. (fn. 126) At the time of inclosure (1758-9) the vicar was compensated for the loss of small tithes by an annual rent-charge of £16. The vicarage was valued at £280 a year in 1877 and £400 in 1936. (fn. 127)
In 1546 two Londoners purchased from the Crown a small toft which had hitherto supplied an annual revenue of 6d. for the maintenance of a lamp in Glen church. (fn. 128)
The church of ST. CUTHBERT stands near the main Leicester to Market Harborough road at the north-east corner of the village. It consists of a chancel with a small north vestry, nave, north aisle, south porch, and west tower. It was almost entirely rebuilt, with the exception of the tower, in 1876.
The modern vestry contains two carved stones thought to be of pre-Conquest date, one perhaps of the 8th century. (fn. 129) There is another fragment in the external wall of the north aisle near the doorway. Built into the south wall inside the porch is the 'Kobia' stone, so called because of the few letters of an inscription which can be traced upon it. The circular font, for part of the 19th century abandoned in a neighbouring garden, (fn. 130) is probably of the 12th century and there are fragments of original 12thcentury masonry in the reconstructed south doorway. In other respects the medieval church, which survived until 1876, appears to have been mainly of the late 13th and early 14th centuries. The tower is of four stages with a Geometrical west window at the lowest stage and forking tracery to the belfry lights. Until c. 1760 it was surmounted by a spire. (fn. 131) Small openings to light the ringing chamber are probably 18th-century insertions. The clock dates from 1847. (fn. 132) The late-13th-century north arcade of four bays has been preserved intact. The composite piers have four half-round shafts with bold fillets and doubleroll bases and the pointed arches of two chamfered orders rest on moulded capitals. In the easternmost spandril is a rood-loft opening. The north aisle contains an original piscina in its east wall. Heraldic glass in a north-east window was still in existence at the end of the 18th century and was then thought to date from the time of Henry III. (fn. 133)
The south wall of the nave previously contained two large 14th-century windows, the jambs of which have been preserved. The former nave roof was of low pitch and at some period, perhaps after the Reformation, small square-headed windows had been inserted below the eaves. The chancel had a square-headed east window, probably of the 16th century or later. All these features were swept away in 1876.
Visitations in 1620 (fn. 134) and 1639 (fn. 135) revealed the need for repairs to the fabric and changes in the seating arrangements. Towards the end of the 18th century the interior was in very bad condition. (fn. 136) A visitor to the church described the walls as 'green from copious streams of water' and broken benches were said to 'lie in all directions, richly adorned with the labours of spiders'. (fn. 137) A general refitting of the interior appears to have taken place in 1813, described 60 years later as 'ignorant carpentering and mutilation'. (fn. 138) In 1832 the chancel had recently been repaired by the patron and in general the mid-19thcentury reports on the fabric were satisfactory. (fn. 139) A drawing of 1875 (fn. 140) shows that the church was fitted with box pews and a three-decker pulpit, while the low plaster ceilings to the nave and chancel were divided by an elliptical arch carrying the royal arms.
The rebuilding of 1876, largely inspired by H. L. Dodds, vicar, cost approximately £3,000, the required sum being made up by Charles Packe. (fn. 141) The architects were Carpenter and Ingelow of London. The tower and the north arcade were left in position and the north aisle was reconstructed on its old foundations, using some of the original masonry. The rest of the church was rebuilt, the walls being of granite and the style Decorated. A vestry was added on the north side of the chancel. The floors were lowered, the roofs raised, the tower arch was opened up, a gallery was removed, and a parapet was added to the tower. An organ was installed and the interior of the church was refitted, chairs being provided to take the place of pews. During the work traces of damage by burning were discovered, but the date of the fire is unknown. In 1909 a new organ was installed. (fn. 142) The oak chancel fittings and the tower screen were given as a memorial of the Second World War. (fn. 143)
There were formerly numerous inscribed floor slabs dating from the 18th century. (fn. 144) Many of them were taken up and used to pave the tower in 1876. Mural tablets now in the church include those to members of the Haymes family (1819-72), to Charles Packe of Stretton Hall (d. 1896), to Elizabeth H. Rowley of Glen House (d. 1917), and to members of the Walker family of Glen Hall (1910-25). Memorial glass in the east windows of the chancel and aisle were given in memory of members of the Walker family in 1910 and 1926 and of the extension to the churchyard in 1922. There are six bells: (i) 1909, in memory of the Revd. W. J. Packe; (ii), (iv), and (v) 1785, by Edward Arnold of Leicester and St. Neots; (iii) 1625; (vi) recast with (ii) in 1898, undated but thought to have been by John of Stafford of Leicester c. 1340. The original five bells were re-hung in 1898. (fn. 145) The church plate includes a silver chalice, paten, and flagon of 1760, purchased with a bequest by Anne Hewett who died in that year. There are also silver dishes of 1826 and 1845, the latter presented by Robert Haymes in 1846, and a silver chalice given in 1876 by friends of the Revd. H. L. Dodds. With the plate is a large silver loving cup of 1835, inscribed and presented by Dodds in 1859 for use at the feast of the dedication. (fn. 146) The registers begin in 1687 and are complete. (fn. 147)
In 1712 10-12 Presbyterians, 3 Anabaptists, and 3 Quakers were reported in Great Glen and Great Stretton. (fn. 148) In 1714, 1716, 1717, 1718, 1719, and 1726 six different houses in Great Glen were licensed as meeting-houses for dissenters. (fn. 149) The Wesleyans built a chapel here in 1827 which still stands. A larger Methodist chapel was erected in 1879. (fn. 150)
In 1636 an Oxford graduate made his subscription as a schoolmaster at Great Glen and his school later sent 2 boys to Cambridge. (fn. 151) The next private schools of which evidence has survived were reported in 1833. (fn. 152) Three infant schools (21 children), a day school (40 children), and a boarding school (15 children) were running in the early 19th century. The boarding school belonged to William Edgley. (fn. 153)
Great Glen Church School was erected in 1846 by the lord of the manor, C. W. Packe of Prestwold Hall. It was under inspection by 1862, (fn. 154) though it does not seem to have received grants in 1870 and 1871. (fn. 155) The total number in attendance in 1910 was 108. (fn. 156) The school was confined to juniors in 1931, the seniors going to Oadby. (fn. 157) Seventy juniors were attending the school in 1933. (fn. 158) In 1947 the school accepted 'controlled' status under the local authority, and in 1957 the attendance of juniors and infants was 128. (fn. 159)
The Wesleyan chapel in the middle of the 19th century ran a day school for girls at Great Glen which appears to have been supported by Mrs. C. W. Packe. (fn. 160) Glen Preparatory School for girls in Glen Manor was opened in September 1957 by the staff of a school evacuated from Egypt at the time of the Suez crisis. (fn. 161)
The Town Lands Charity was established before 1666 with a gift of land, the rents from which were to be used for the repair of the parish church, roads, and bridges, and for the relief of the poor. Its endowment of 16 a. was created by an allotment made under the inclosure Act of 1759. (fn. 162) William Hewett, by will proved in 1766, left £100 to be invested for the benefit of poor apprentices in Great Glen. (fn. 163) Catherine Haymes at an unknown date before 1786 bequeathed £50 to be invested and the profits distributed among poor widows of the parish. (fn. 164) By a Scheme of the Charity Commissioners, dated 1875, these three charities were amalgamated and their revenue divided into four parts: Church branch, Town branch, Poor branch, and Apprentices' branch. The rents of the town lands were to be divided equally among the first three branches; Haymes's charity revenue was added to the Poor branch; and Hewett's constituted the sole revenue of the Apprentices' branch. (fn. 165) This Scheme, although slightly altered by later Schemes of the Commissioners in 1911 and 1919, was still in force in 1957. (fn. 166)
In 1871 Thomas Crick established an almshouse, Crick's Retreat, in memory of his wife Elizabeth and his son John Throne Crick. The building consists of a single block of 10 houses about half a mile outside Great Glen on the road to Oadby. Free residence was to be provided for relatives of the founder and aged inhabitants of Great Glen, but in 1957 all the houses were let for small rents. The founder's endowment of land was regulated by a Charity Commissioners' Scheme of 1930, altered in 1950. (fn. 167) In 1957 each resident still received certain weekly allowances which were supplied by the rents of two farms at Gilmorton. (fn. 168)
In 1876 H. L. Dodds, Vicar of Great Glen 1855- 86, gave £200 stock and £42 cash to be realized and invested in land. Two-thirds of the income from this endowment was to be applied for the benefit of members of the church choir. The remaining third was to be given to young mothers who were churchwomen, on the birth of a first child. In 1890 the greater part of the stock then held was sold and land in Church Lane Close bought with the proceeds. Rent was allowed to accumulate and then invested, and in 1932 the trustees held £186 stock, worth £6 yearly, as well as the land. (fn. 169) In 1957 the income of the charity was £10 10s. (fn. 170)
Two gifts to the parish reported in 1786 had been lost by 1837. Joan (d. 1665), the widow of Sir Richard Halford, left £40 for the distribution of bread, and Bridget Allen £50 for the use of the poor. (fn. 171)
Great Stretton lies five miles south-east of Leicester on the Gartree road. For ecclesiastical purposes, it has remained a chapelry of Great Glen parish but it has been independent for civil purposes since the late 18th century at least. Its area was 703 a., of which 8 a. were transferred to Oadby U.D. in 1936. (fn. 172)
The village, which has disappeared, stood in the fields to the south of the Gartree road, and to the south and south-east of the parish church, which remains an isolated building. The parish contains Stretton Hall on its southern boundary and only two farm-houses, Cotterill Farm on its northern boundary and Harris's Farm by the side of the Gartree road and opposite the church. (fn. 173) Before the Second World War there was another farm-house, Stretton Lodge, but this was demolished to allow the construction of Stoughton Aerodrome (Leicester East) in 1942 when about 180 a. of the parish were included; this involved closing the road from Great Stretton to Houghton Lodge. The village was never large. There were 21 taxpayers in 1381. (fn. 174) It contained 15 households in 1563, but only 5 in 1670. There were 14 communicants in 1676. The total population in the 19th century ranged between 17 in 1821 and 42 in 1861. The population in 1931 was 56. Since 1932 the population has been affected by the use of Stretton Hall as a hospital (see below). The population of 231 in 1951 included over 100 patients at the hall and a few dozen soldiers on the airfield. (fn. 175)
The land consists largely of boulder clay with small patches of glacial sands and gravels, and is almost entirely devoted to pasture. Several fields in the parish are attached to farms in other parishes (e.g. Houghton Lodge and Little Stretton Manor) and many are farmed as part of the estate of the Cooperative Wholesale Society Ltd., which succeeded to the Powys-Keck estate in 1919. (fn. 176) There are fairly extensive tracts of Lower Lias clays along the River Sence which forms the eastern boundary of the parish, and a certain amount of alluvium in the valley bottom where the medieval meadows lay. Most of the parish lies between 350 and 400 ft. above sea-level, in undulating country.
Harris's Farm was probably built in 1803 (fn. 177) and Cotterill Farm is still later in date. Stretton Hall stands in a small park in which the trees are said to have been planted by William Hewett (d. 1766) in imitation of St. Peter's colonnade at Rome. (fn. 178) The house has been much altered at various dates. The oldest part consists of a rectangular structure of reddish-purple brick with moulded stone architraves to the windows. It is of two stories and attics, having long fronts facing east and west and a double gable at each end. It was probably built by George Hewett who died in 1690 and was buried in the parish church. (fn. 179) The Hewetts were not resident in the parish in 1670, (fn. 180) although they had an extensive property here, so that the house is likely to have been started between 1670 and 1690. The principal front, facing east, was evidently remodelled and raised to three stories at a slightly later date. It is of a uniform red brick with a heavy modillion cornice and is surmounted by a central stone pediment in which are the arms of Hewett impaling Jesson. This suggests that it was built by George Hewett (1664-1714), nephew of the earlier George, whose wife was Penelope, daughter of Sir William Jesson. (fn. 181) He apparently moved to Great Stretton after his uncle's death in 1690. (fn. 182) The date 1715 scratched on the brickwork near the doorway may indicate that the rebuilding was undertaken late in his life and completed after he died. Two boldly projecting bays have been added to the front, possibly in the early 19th century when much of the interior was refitted. The house was considerably enlarged in 1898 or 1899 by the Packe family. (fn. 183) It was sold by Col. E. C. Packe, to whom it had descended with the manor, to the Leicestershire County Council in 1930. In 1932 it was opened as a hospital by the Leicestershire and Rutland Joint Board for the Mentally Defective. Three wards have been added to the original house, two in 1937 and one about 1954. In 1948 the hospital came under the Ministry of Health and was run as part of Glenfrith Hospital (Anstey) under the Sheffield Hospital Board. (fn. 184)
There is a large moated area about 200 yds. south of the parish church. This consists of an island about 44 yds. in length from east to west and 35 yds. in width from north to south, surrounded by a deep moat which is now dry. Between here and the church is a large pond which supplied the moat, and below the moat is a smaller pond which would drain it if required. Mr. Tailby, who visited the site in 1796 and reported on it to Nichols, (fn. 185) surmised that this was where the chantry chapel founded by Robert de Stretton stood, but this is known to have been in the parish church (see below). The site appears to be that of a small medieval hall-house, possibly connected with the Strettons or Herricks, but there are no certain documentary references to it at any time, and no trace of any structural remains upon it. It may have been the capital messuage of which Henry Kebell died seised in 1571. (fn. 186) The house no longer existed in 1670 when the hearth tax assessment was made.
In the Domesday Survey, in which Stretton is listed as belonging to the soke of Great Bowden, it is stated that there were 9 carucates of arable land, and 10 a. of meadow in Stretton, all held by the king. The Survey does not distinguish between Great and Little Stretton. (fn. 187) Land in Stretton was held by Roger de Quency, Earl of Winchester, as part of the honor of Winchester, at his death in 1264. (fn. 188) Since the honor of Winchester was formed from lands formerly held by the earls of Leicester, it is probable that Stretton, after the death of Robert FitzParnell in 1204, passed to the earls of Winchester. After the death of Roger de Quency without male heirs the overlordship of Stretton was held for a time by his widow in dower, (fn. 189) and subsequently passed first to the family of Ferrers of Groby, (fn. 190) who were the heirs of Roger through his daughter Margaret, and then, again through an heiress, to Grey of Groby. (fn. 191)
The information regarding the tenants in demesne of Great Stretton is less definite. It is not always easy to distinguish between the lands in Great Stretton and those in Little Stretton, but it seems that the lands of the honor of Winchester in Stretton constituted Great Stretton. In 1271 Stretton was held from Roger de Quency by William Burdett, (fn. 192) but since Stretton was only part of the 4 knights' fees which Burdett held of the honor of Winchester, it is uncertain whether he was the tenant in demesne. In 1279 2 carucates in Stretton were held, as 1/7 knight's fee, from the heirs of Roger de Quency by Thomas de Hendi, under whom again the land was held by 3 under-tenants, (fn. 193) so that by the late 13th century Stretton was subinfeudated to a high degree. In the 14th and 15th centuries Great Stretton was held from Ferrers of Groby by the family of Zouche of Haringworth, (fn. 194) who were probably not the tenants in demesne at any time. In 1435 the manor of GREAT STRETTON was in the hands of Sir John Grey of Ingleby, who had obtained it through his wife Margaret, daughter of Roger Swillington. (fn. 195) In 1500 Thomas Kebell died seised of 2 messuages and 4½ virgates in Great Stretton, which were held of Lord Zouche of Haringworth by fealty, other services not being known. (fn. 196) These lands descended to his great-grandson Henry Kebell, who died in 1571. (fn. 197) Henry Kebell left two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, who took the property into other families. Elizabeth married Anthony Colly of Glooston, and in 1587 and 1590 the two were disposing of much, if not all, of this land. (fn. 198)
The later descent of the manor is not clear, but part of it at least seems to have come to Sir Edward Heron, serjeant-at-law, and Roger Smith, of Somerby, who were selling lands in Stretton in 1604-5. (fn. 199) The buyers were John and Bartholomew Fletcher, Robert Bale, Thomas Coleman, and John Waldram, the last being the largest purchaser. He bought property in Great and Little Stretton and Great Glen for £240 and sold it to Richard Halford in 1621 for £320. (fn. 200)
Great Stretton is described in 1611 as being held of the king, as of the honor of Winchester, by Bartholomew Fletcher, Robert Bale, and William Gamble. (fn. 201) The property was divided between several owners during the 17th century. Some time in the century, possibly before 1645 when he presented to the living, the manor of Great Stretton was acquired by William Hewett, of Dunton Basset, in whose family it remained until 1766. (fn. 202) The lordship then passed, through the heiress of the last William Hewett, to Sir George Robinson, Bt., from whose descendant it was purchased in 1838 or 1839 by Charles William Packe, M.P., of Prestwold. (fn. 203) The owner in 1956 was Col. E. C. Packe of Great Glen.
As related above, Stretton formed one estate in 1086 and the early history of the two townships of Great and Little Stretton is closely intermingled from Domesday onwards. Whether there were two distinct settlements in 1086 cannot be known with certainty, but it is clear that Great and Little Stretton became separate townships by the later 12th century. Great Stretton was attached to Great Glen as a chapelry, and Little Stretton to King's Norton. Both Stretton churches show structural evidence of having been first erected c. 1150-75. Whether the two villages had only one set of open fields between them originally is also uncertain, but later evidence from glebe terriers (1674-90) (fn. 204) suggests that this may have been so and that this arrangement may have persisted after the separation of the townships for ecclesiastical purposes. Part of the glebe of Great Stretton lay in the Nether Field of Little Stretton, and one of the open fields was called 'Ming Field', which the glebe terriers of Little Stretton (fn. 205) also refer to as 'the mingled field' or 'Stock Field'. This suggests that one field at least was common to both parishes as late as the 17th century.
Great Stretton is first referred to as such in 1275, (fn. 206) but in the early 14th century it was already the smaller of the two townships, paying 18s. 3d. to the 15th in 1327 as against 24s. from Little Stretton. In 1332 the two villages paid 28s. and 38s. respectively; (fn. 207) and in 1334 the assessments to the 15th were fixed at 29s. and 38s. respectively. (fn. 208) In 1327 8 persons were assessed at Great Stretton; in 1332, 10. The slight increase in the 1334 assessment suggests that one or two taxpayers had evaded the assessment two years earlier. This gives a total of perhaps 12 taxable households at this date.
The Heyricks were the most important family resident in the village at this time. They were substantial free tenants, (fn. 209) possibly of Danish origin, their name being derived from the Danish personal name of Erik, which is also found in other Leicestershire villages. They are first mentioned by name at Great Stretton in 1274, (fn. 210) when Richard Heirek is described as a clerk. He is similarly described in 1309. (fn. 211) In 1327 and 1332 the two Heyricks paid between them about one-third of the 15th for the whole village. Robert Heyrick, usually called Robert de Stretton (d. 1385), consecrated Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield in 1360, was a member of this family and held a considerable estate in the parish. William Lawet occurs as 'bailiff of the bishop' in the poll tax of 1381. (fn. 212) Another branch of the family continued to hold land in Great Stretton until the 15th century, but lived elsewhere. This branch is traditionally said to have moved to Houghton on the Hill during that century, (fn. 213) whence they founded the important family of Heyrick of Leicester in the early 16th century, and subsequently Heyrick of Beaumanor.
The poll tax assessment for 1381 lists 21 taxable persons at Great Stretton, each paying 1s. There were 8 married couples, each described as 'holder of land at will', and 5 others, one being the bishop's bailiff, 2 the bishop's servants, and 2 described simply as 'servant'. (fn. 214) This would suggest about 9 or 10 households in the village at this date, but the return of 1381 is notoriously defective. In 1445 the assessment for the 15th was cut from 29s. to 20s., reflecting a fall in taxable capacity (and probably in population) of nearly one-third. Little Stretton was similarly cut from 38s. to 26s. (fn. 215) but the surrounding villages were much less impoverished. The two Strettons stand out sharply in this respect. They may have been more severely struck by the successive outbreaks of plague, as they lay on a wellused traffic-route from the south-east into Leicestershire and the risk of infection would have been correspondingly greater.
The subsidy assessment of 1524 lists only 4 taxpayers at Great Stretton but this is obviously not a complete return. (fn. 216) In an undated muster list (c. 1540) Great Stretton produced as many able-bodied men as Little Stretton (5 each), and each township was required to find horse and harness for one man. (fn. 217) In 1563 the population of the chapelry of Great Stretton was returned as 15 households (fn. 218) and an examination of the parish register (which begins in 1585) suggests that this may have been an accurate figure, as 9 married couples were producing children between 1585 and 1605.
The disappearance of the village long before Nichols's day, when it consisted of only two farmhouses, besides the hall and the church, (fn. 219) may be attributed to the early inclosure of its open fields and their conversion in large part to pastures for sheep and cattle. Curtis and others say that the inclosure took place in 1611, a statement for which no authority can be found other than a vague remark by Nichols. (fn. 220) In fact, the process of inclosure and conversion has been a gradual and piecemeal one, extending over some two hundred years. Thomas Kebell's will (1500) mentions the 'inclosures and approvements' he had made on his property at Great Stretton. (fn. 221) A glebe terrier of 1686 (fn. 222) refers to a rate-tithe or modus of 48s. yearly 'payable out of grounds in Great Stretton called Keeble Close and the meadows thereunto belonging', which the tithe award of 1849 (fn. 223) reveals as 178½ a. then belonging to Charles William Packe, and constituting the Stretton Hall estate. Thus there was a considerable inclosure for pasture in Great Stretton, amounting to something under 178 a. (allowing for the meadows), before the end of the 15th century. The inventory of John Marshall, a Great Stretton yeoman who died in 1541, (fn. 224) shows that he, too, was a considerable grazier, with 20 kine, a bull, 10 young beasts, and 200 sheep. He also had 34 a. under wheat, barley, and rye in one of the open fields, and 30 a. under peas and beans in the other. He may have rented some or all of the Kebell pastures at this date for his cattle and sheep; but he was also a substantial open-field farmer with something like 100 a. under arable. His inventory suggests, too, that Great Stretton was under a three-field system, possibly managed in common with Little Stretton. Thomas Eyton (or Eaton), who died in 1547, was a smaller and more typical open-field farmer. His inventory (fn. 225) shows no cattle except 'the draught beasts' and no sheep. His crops in the fields were 1½ a. of wheat, ¾ a. of rye, and 7 a. of barley, all in one field; and 12 a. of peas and beans in the other. He occupied a farm of 2 virgates, one of the four farms with which the chantry (see below) had been endowed by Robert Stretton or Heyrick in the 14th century. He was a tenant at will, occupying from year to year at an annual rent of 23s. 4d. (fn. 226)
The parish register shows that the population of Great Stretton was well-maintained until towards the middle of the 17th century. From 1585 to 1604 there were 27 baptisms, an average of 13.5 each decade; and in the decade 1625-34 there were still 13. The registers were badly kept after 1640 (with a complete gap between 1643 and 1661) and when they resume the population appears to have about halved. Between 1690 and 1700 there were only 7 baptisms. The hearth tax assessment of 1670 shows that there were only 5 taxable houses at that date, with none exempt. (fn. 227) The population was now only one-third of what it had been in 1563, and the major part of the decline had taken place after 1635. It is to the years between about 1640 and 1670 that we must probably attribute the completion of the inclosure of the open fields. The glebe terrier of 1674 (fn. 228) shows that 11 a. of the glebe were then inclosed (including 'an old inclosure') and only about 4½ a. were still left in strips in the Ming Field and the Nether Field of Little Stretton. Of the portion still uninclosed, part at least lay in Little Stretton, which was not inclosed until 1771, and fully one-half of this, too, was in ley. Thus the inclosure and conversion from arable to pasture at Great Stretton was virtually completed by 1670, but the inventory of John Bellamy, husbandman, made in 1679, (fn. 229) shows that some arable was still preserved. The greater part of his wealth lay in his horses, sheep, and cattle (£113 10s.), but his crops were not inconsiderable, the hay, peas, wheat, barley, and oats being worth £37 10s. in all.
Great Stretton continued to dwindle throughout the 18th century; from 4 or 5 farms in 1670 it was all engrossed into two. By 1801 the parish contained only the hall and 2 tenant-farming households, a total of 22 persons. In 1821 the population had fallen to 17, but it rose again thereafter to reach a maximum of 42 in 1861. Probably as a result of this temporary increase, the church, which had fallen almost into ruins, was rebuilt in 1838 (see below). The increase may have been connected with a temporary expansion of the arable area. The tithe award of 1849 shows that 76 per cent. of the land of the parish was under pasture and only 20 per cent. arable. George Anthony Legh Keck, of Stoughton Grange, then owned 344 a. in Great Stretton; Charles William Packe, lord of the manor, 180 a.; the trustees of Alderman Newton's Charity, Leicester, 120 a.; the trustees of James Morpott, 17 a.; and the glebe amounted to 21 a. (fn. 230) The tithes of Great Stretton belonged to the Vicar of Great Glen and were commuted for a gross rent-charge of £116 7s. 3d. After 1861 the population of Great Stretton fell again as more arable was re-converted to pasture, particularly during the agricultural depression of the eighties and nineties, and an arable field became a rare sight. (fn. 231) In the First and Second World Wars much pasture was again broken up for arable, but the population of the parish was only 56 in 1931. (fn. 232)
Great Stretton, though part of the parish of Great Glen, appears to have been administering its own poor law by the late 18th century, and possibly earlier. In 1802-3 1 child received out-relief. (fn. 233) After 1836, with Great Glen, Great Stretton was in Billesdon Union. (fn. 234)
It was stated c. 1220 (fn. 235) that the chapel of Great Stretton was served three days a week from the mother church of Great Glen, (fn. 236) to which the chapel has ever since been subject. In 1266, when a vicarage was ordained at Great Glen, the tithes and glebe of Stretton chapel were assigned to the vicar. (fn. 237) In 1283 the Abbot of Owston acknowledged Stretton chapel as the property of Alcester Abbey (Warws.), in return for an annual pension of 40s. (fn. 238) The origin of Owston Abbey's rights in Great Stretton has not been discovered, but it may well be connected with the abbey's patronage of King's Norton church, (fn. 239) to which Little Stretton was subject.
In 1378 licence was granted to Robert de Stretton to alienate in mortmain lands and rents to the yearly value of £10 for the establishment of a chantry at Stretton where two clerks were to pray for the souls of Edward III and Edward, Prince of Wales. (fn. 240) The chantry was endowed with lands in Stretton (fn. 241) and established in the chapel of St. Giles. (fn. 242) After the Dissolution the chantry lands were sold in 1548 for £138 13s. 4d. to William Gyes and Michael Purefoy. (fn. 243) In a dispute c. 1555 it was stated that a messuage which formerly belonged to the chantry had passed to John Beaumont and from him to Mr. Stokes (fn. 244) (perhaps Adrian Stokes, husband of the dowager Duchess of Suffolk). (fn. 245) This messuage was part of the property in the tenure of John Gaylarde which was expressly excluded from the grant to Gyes and Purefoy. (fn. 246)
In 1518 Robert Cowper of Great Stretton left 8d. for the repair of the high altar, and 4d. for the repair of 'the altar of St. Nicholas within the said chapel'. This is the only known mention of this altar. In 1541 John Marshall left 20s. to the chapel of Stretton, 6s. 8d. to the repair of 'the stone bridge in the high way' (over the River Sence), and 20d. 'to the stone cross that was lately cast down'. (fn. 247) In 1526 Thomas Eyton, churchwarden, reported that the roof of the church needed repair and also that the churchyard was not sufficiently enclosed. (fn. 248) In 1619 (fn. 249) and 1639 seats, leads, windows, the churchyard fence, the font, and the communion table were the subject of unfavourable reports. In 1640 Walter Allen, churchwarden, testified that the defects noted in 1639 had been made good. (fn. 250) General repairs ordered in 1776 and 1797 suggest that in the late 18th century the church was in a bad condition. (fn. 251) In 1838 Archdeacon Bonney recorded that the body of the church had been rebuilt in that year and that he had not visited it before as it had been in a state of dilapidation. His visitation of 1842 gives a detailed account of the fabric, furniture, books, and churchyard. (fn. 252)
The church of ST. GILES stands in a small churchyard in the fields to the south of the Gartree road. It consists of a low, battlemented western tower, a nave and chancel all of one piece, and a south porch. It is largely built of a soft and badly weathered ironstone, with some limestone dressings in the tower and some old brickwork in the porch. The body of the church was rebuilt in 1838 and there are now few traces of older work. The inner south doorway has a fragment of 12th-century work round the head, and another fragment with chevron ornament is built into the south wall of the nave immediately east of the porch. The tower is original 14th-century work, probably repaired in the 17th century. The body of the medieval church, like the present one, consisted of a nave and chancel all of one piece, having two early-14th-century windows on the south side. (fn. 253) Parts of these window-heads have been built into the new south wall and some slightly earlier plate tracery is incorporated in the north wall. The original north doorway, now blocked, is in position. The present windows, which are pointed and have small leaded panes of clear glass, date from 1838. The south porch was partly rebuilt in 1958. The church contains a good early-14th-century octagonal font, the panels carved with Decorated window tracery of various designs. The fittings, which include turned altar rails, a two-decker pulpit, and plain box pews, are of 1838. There are no monuments except a floor slab to George Hewett of Great Stretton, who died 30 August, 1690. There is only one bell in the tower, cast in 1791 by Edward Arnold of Leicester and St. Neots. (fn. 254)
The registers begin in 1585 and are largely complete. (fn. 255) The church plate is Victorian and was given by Lt.-Col. King, who resided at Stretton Hall in the middle decades of the 19th century. (fn. 256)