A History of the County of Leicestershire: Volume 5, Gartree Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1964.
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Pickwell lies about thirteen miles north-east of Leicester on the northern edge of the uplands of East Leicestershire and adjoins the county boundary with Rutland. The ancient parish included the hamlet of Leesthorpe and had an area of 2,378 a., of which Leesthorpe accounted for about 750 a. (fn. 1) Pickwell became part of Somerby civil parish in 1936 (fn. 2) and was united with Somerby for ecclesiastical purposes in 1959. (fn. 3)
Though on the edge of the uplands, much of the southern part of the parish, including the site of the village of Pickwell, is above 500 ft. and several hills exceed 600 ft. The ground falls to just over 300 ft. on the northern margin of the parish, in Leesthorpe, and the slope of the hills is dissected by several small streams which feed a tributary of the River Eye, in the vale to the north. One stream rises in Pickwell village and flows north to the site of Leesthorpe hamlet where it joins another which has crossed Pickwell from Somerby; further north the combined stream formed the eastern boundary of the parish. A third stream rises in Pickwell and flows into Whissendine (Rut.). The boundary of Pickwell parish was formed by a minor road on the north, by field boundaries and the streams already referred to on the east, and mainly by field boundaries on the south and west. The southern boundary ran only a little over 100 yds. north of Somerby village. The soil is partly light, partly clayey, overlying clay and Jurassic marlstone and limestone. The limestone is close to the surface on the higher ground, and three disused quarries adjoin the village; quarries existed by at least the late 18th century, (fn. 4) and one was still in use in the late 19th when there was a limekiln there. At that date there was also a sand pit near the stream in the east of the parish. (fn. 5)
In the north the parish is crossed by the road from Melton Mowbray to Oakham. This is intersected by a north-south road which runs the length of the parish, passing through both Leesthorpe hamlet and Pickwell village, and leads southwards to Somerby. North of the village, a branch from this road runs north-westwards to Little Dalby. The village street of Pickwell is an offshoot on the east side of the chief road; from its eastern end a minor road runs north-eastwards to join the road from Melton Mowbray to Oakham on the Pickwell boundary.
The houses of Pickwell lie along both sides of the village street and around its junction with the main road. On the west side of the main road is the former school, while the church and former Rectory stand on the north side of the village street. On its south side is the Manor House, an ironstone building of various periods of which the earliest appears to be the 17th century. The older part of the house may, however, have a medieval nucleus. It consists of an east-west wing from which another wing extends northwards, forming a T-shaped plan. The second wing probably represents an original hall block and its steeply-pitched roof suggests the existence of early trusses. The cross-wing was re-fenestrated in the 18th century and various extensions to the house, which obscure the original layout, are mostly of 19th-century date. The courtyard to the north is surrounded by stone outbuildings, some of which date from the early 17th century. An 18th-century gateway with ball finials to its piers forms the main approach to the house from the west.
A small ironstone cottage, formerly thatched, which stands near the disused quarry to the north of the village, is of mid-17th-century date. A later baking-oven has been built into the wide fire-place in the living room. There are a number of 18thcentury buildings in the street, including an ironstone cottage east of the church which has a large brick-vaulted baking-oven at one gable-end and which may have been the village bakery. The range which incorporates the former White Horse Inn, open at least between 1846 and 1932, (fn. 6) is also of the 18th century, as is Home Farm with its adjacent outbuildings. Oundle Farm, on the south side of the street, is a small stone-built mid-19th-century house in the Tudor style, and the bailiff's house next to Home Farm has a date tablet of 1884. Stonepit Terrace, near the most recently used quarry, is a row of ten ironstone cottages with vitrified brick dressings built by R. Fryer in 1870. (fn. 7) In the west part of the village there are three pairs of Council houses of 1952 and a pair of cottages belonging to the Manor House, built in 1954. (fn. 8)
A few houses on the main road near the hall and its small park form the hamlet of Leesthorpe. In the area east of the hall and north of the stream foundations of buildings were disturbed by the ploughingup of pasture during the Second World War; (fn. 9) this may well represent the site of part of the medieval village. Leesthorpe Hall was originally a rectangular house of limestone ashlar, built c. 1700, its principal front facing south. (fn. 10) It has a hipped roof, pedimented dormers, and two large central chimney stacks. There are now late-19th-century additions with mansard roofs on both east and west sides and internal alterations of the same period. Two 18thcentury brick pavilions with small central pediments stand to the north-east and north-west, the former now joined to the house.
The Grange, standing about a third of a mile east of Leesthorpe Hall and near the road from Melton Mowbray to Oakham, is a large brick-built farmhouse of c. 1840 with two stone-faced elevations, a low-pitched slate roof, and 'Tudor' features. Further east Pickwell Grange is a smaller brick house of the late 18th century. Lower Leesthorpe, north of the Oakham road, is a mid-19th-century brick farm-house. Other farm-houses built or enlarged in the 19th century are Brickfield House, on the northern parish boundary, Pickwell Lodge Farm, Bracken House, and Leesthorpe House. A few farm cottages dating from the late 19th and 20th centuries have been built near Leesthorpe House and along the Oakham road. By the early 20th century the Melton Mowbray Urban District Council had established a sewage farm in Pickwell, adjoining the former parish boundary next to Somerby village.
Pickwell and Leesthorpe are rarely distinguished in the available figures of population. Together they had the large recorded population of 57 in 1086. (fn. 11) There were 35 payers of the poll tax in 1381. (fn. 12) In 1563 there were 26 households and in 1603 120 communicants. (fn. 13) There were 16 households in 1670, (fn. 14) and 17 families in the early 18th century. (fn. 15) The figure of 30 communicants for 1676 can hardly, therefore, represent the total population. The population was 121 in 1801. It rose to a maximum of 262 in 1891 but had fallen to 182 by 1931; no figure is available for 1951 when Pickwell was combined with Somerby. (fn. 16)
The only separate, and precise, figures for Leesthorpe are for 1841 and 1863 when it contributed 43 and 53 respectively to the total population of the parish. (fn. 17) Leesthorpe is regarded as a deserted village (fn. 18) and may well have been larger in medieval times than at the end of the 18th century, when there were only two houses besides the hall and only 18 or 20 inhabitants. (fn. 19)
Under Edward the Confessor Pickwell and Leesthorpe were held by Ordmar. (fn. 20) In 1086 both places were held from the king by Geoffrey de Wirce, an important tenant-in-chief in east Leicestershire, who had enfeoffed a certain Buterus with them. (fn. 21) In 1129 Pickwell and Leesthorpe were held by Roger de Mowbray, (fn. 22) who had acquired all Geoffrey's land in Leicestershire. (fn. 23) The Mowbray family continued to hold Pickwell and Leesthorpe as tenants-in-chief until the 15th century. (fn. 24) After the death of John Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, in 1476, and of his daughter and heir Anne in 1481, the Mowbray estates were divided between the representatives of her two co-heirs, one of whom, William, Lord Berkeley, evidently obtained the overlordship of Pickwell and Leesthorpe, for they were later said to be held from the Lords Berkeley. (fn. 25) The Berkeleys are last mentioned in connexion with Pickwell and Leesthorpe in 1630. (fn. 26) Under the Mowbrays the abbey of Vaudey (Lincs.) held a manor at Leesthorpe, and in the 12th century another holding, at Pickwell and Leesthorpe, was held by the Camville family.
The descent of the CAMVILLE FEE will be considered first. Under Henry II Walter de Camville (fn. 27) held land at Pickwell which had apparently been in the possession of the Camville family before he inherited it. (fn. 28) Walter was succeeded by his son Roger. (fn. 29) By 1279 the Camville fee at Pickwell and Leesthorpe was being held as 3 knights' fees by Andrew of Astley, or Eastley, (fn. 30) whose father Thomas is said to have married Roger's sister and co-heir. (fn. 31) The 3 knights' fees continued to be held by the Astley family until at least 1361, when Thomas of Astley was in possession. (fn. 32) The Camvilles and Astleys are not known ever to have held any land in the parish in demesne. In the reign of Henry II or earlier a predecessor of Walter de Camville had granted 2 knights' fees at Pickwell and Leesthorpe to Hugh of Morwic, who held them in demesne. Under Henry II Morwic was holding from Walter not only these 2 fees but also a third, which was itself held from Morwic by Lewis of Pickwell. (fn. 33) Thus the whole of the Camville holding was probably subinfeudated to Morwic. Nothing further is known of Lewis, but before 1214 a large part of the Morwic possessions at Pickwell had come into the tenancy of John of Sproxton, who had acquired it from Thomas of Hotham. (fn. 34) In 1235-6 the Sproxton holding at Pickwell amounted to 2 knights' fees. (fn. 35)
The Morwic family retained their holdings at Pickwell and Leesthorpe until the death of Hugh of Morwic, a descendant of the earlier Hugh, in or before 1269. (fn. 36) Those lands which had not been subinfeudated to John of Sproxton were held in demesne. (fn. 37) On Hugh's death these lands were divided between his three daughters: Sybil, wife first of Roger de Lumley and afterwards of Laurence St. Maur; Tiffany, wife of John de Bulmer; and Beatrice, wife of John Rossell. (fn. 38) Beatrice died without issue, and her property seems to have been divided between her sisters. In 1299 the Morwic lands there were held by Tiffany de Bulmer, Robert de Lumley, Sybil's son, and Robert de Waterville, who is not known to have had any connexion with the Morwic family. (fn. 39) The descent of this holding cannot be traced further.
The lands of John of Sproxton and his descendants at Pickwell were held in demesne during the 13th century. (fn. 40) In 1226 they were said to be held from Hugh of Morwic, (fn. 41) but in 1279 directly from Andrew of Astley, (fn. 42) so that the heirs of Hugh of Morwic may have lost their position as intermediate lords of this holding. On the death of a later John of Sproxton, between 1273 and 1276, his lands at Pickwell were divided between his two nieces, Beatrice, wife of William de Kelleby, and Constance, wife of Walter Bek. (fn. 43) Kelleby died before 1281, and by 1284 Beatrice had married Roger le Brabazon. (fn. 44) Constance was dead by 1284; in 1297 her two daughters and co-heirs conveyed some lands at Pickwell to Roger and Beatrice, (fn. 45) and in 1304 they granted a manor at Pickwell and 2 virgates at Leesthorpe to Roger. (fn. 46) Roger died without issue in 1317; he had granted the manor of Sibbertoft (Northants.) to Thomas Curzon, who was probably his successor at Pickwell too. (fn. 47)
In 1346 William Curzon possessed a knight's fee at Pickwell and Leesthorpe. (fn. 48) From this time onwards the Curzon family appear as the only considerable landowners at Pickwell itself, and the family continued to hold the manor (fn. 49) until 1532, when Thomas Curzon sold his lands in the parish, then described as the manors of Pickwell and Leesthorpe, to Richard Cave. (fn. 50) The manor was held by the Caves until sold in 1638 by William Cave to Elizabeth Hicks, Viscountess Camden. (fn. 51) From her the lands, generally described subsequently simply as the manor of Pickwell, passed to her descendants, the Noel family, earls of Gainsborough, (fn. 52) who were still in possession in 1936. (fn. 53)
A manor at LEESTHORPE was held from at least the 13th century by the abbey of Vaudey (Lincs.). It is not known when the abbey acquired this land, but some of it may have been granted by Roger de Mowbray when he gave Vaudey 10 a. at an unspecified place. (fn. 54) In 1247 the Abbot of Vaudey had 3 virgates at Leesthorpe, and perhaps other land there too. (fn. 55) In 1274 he was said to have 5 virgates there. (fn. 56) In 1279 this land was said to be held from Roger de Mowbray, mostly directly, but partly through Andrew of Astley as mesne lord. (fn. 57) The abbot's lands at Leesthorpe were first described as a manor in 1326, when it was said that they had previously been leased to Roger Beler, a baron of the Exchequer, his wife, and his son Roger. (fn. 58) The manor continued to be held by Vaudey until the Dissolution. (fn. 59) It was granted by the Crown to John, Lord Lisle, later Duke of Northumberland, in 1544. (fn. 60) On Northumberland's attainder in 1553 the lands again came to the Crown, and were sold in 1557 to two speculators, (fn. 61) who sold them almost at once to Thomas Farnham of Quorndon. (fn. 62) In 1561 Farnham sold the property to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. (fn. 63)
Before 1615 the manor of Leesthorpe was acquired by Sir Antony Mildmay. (fn. 64) It descended to Mildmay's heirs, the earls of Westmorland, who held it until 1658 when it was conveyed to Edmund Arnold. (fn. 65) By 1785 it was owned by John Suffield Brown. (fn. 66) The Suffield Brown family were still in possession about 1800, (fn. 67) but by 1846 it had been acquired by Ayscough Smith. (fn. 68) In 1877 the Revd. A. T. Smith was lord of the manor; (fn. 69) he was apparently the last owner to be so styled.
In or before 1422 Roger Flore, or Flower, acquired some property at Leesthorpe, sometimes described as a manor. (fn. 70) John Flower, presumably Roger's descendant, in 1582 sold to William Cave considerable property, described as being in Pickwell. (fn. 71) This was probably merged in Cave's extensive estate in the parish.
In 1364 John Wade and John atte Hall of Luffenham (Rut.) were granted a licence to alienate 10 messuages, 13 virgates, and 4 a. of land at Pickwell to three chaplains in the church of Manton (Rut.). (fn. 72) There is no clear evidence that all of this property was in fact alienated but it is certain that the chantry college at Manton acquired lands at Pickwell. (fn. 73) Under the Chantry Act the college's property at Pickwell was seised, and in 1548 it was granted to Gregory, Lord Cromwell, and his wife Elizabeth, for life and during pleasure. (fn. 74) After Cromwell's death the lands at Pickwell were confirmed to his relict, later the wife of Lord St. John, for life and during pleasure, (fn. 75) but in 1562 they were granted in fee simple to William Cave. (fn. 76)
A so-called 'manor' at Leesthorpe was possessed by Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset, at the time of his death in 1501. By the marquess's will his lands at Leesthorpe were settled on one of his younger sons, Lord John Grey, but in 1540 the provisions of the will were set aside, and Lord John was given other lands in place of Leesthorpe, which was held by his elder brother Thomas, Marquess of Dorset. (fn. 77) On the attainder in 1554 of Thomas's heir, Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, his property at Pickwell fell to the Crown, and in the same year was granted to Edward Chamberlayne. (fn. 78)
Owston Abbey and Kirby Bellars Priory both owned small amounts of land in the parish. (fn. 79)
In 1086 there were 14 carucates of land at Pickwell and Leesthorpe, with 50 a. of meadow. In demesne there were 14 serfs with 4 ploughs. The tenants were 26 socmen, 7 villeins, and 9 bordars, with 13 ploughs. In 1086 the manor was valued at £4, but at some earlier date (fn. 80) it had been worth only £2. Under Edward the Confessor there had been only 10 ploughs. (fn. 81) Attached to Pickwell was the soke of land at Burrough on the Hill, Garthorpe, and Little Dalby. (fn. 82) The existence of this dependent land, and of a large number of socmen at Pickwell and Leesthorpe, shows that Geoffrey de Wirce's holding there was imperfectly manorialized by 1086. In 1086 there was a house in Leicester attached to Pickwell. (fn. 83) In 1129 there were 15 carucates in Pickwell and Leesthorpe; (fn. 84) they perhaps included the carucate, of which the soke belonged to Pickwell, described under Burrough on the Hill in 1086.
The numerical predominance of free tenants at Pickwell seems to have persisted. A record of the land in the parish, drawn up in 1279, mentions no unfree tenants or land held in villeinage, though the free tenants are described in some detail. (fn. 85) An inquisition of 1304 records a single customary tenant, holding a messuage and a virgate in villeinage, and rendering 20s. yearly, but does not mention any labour services. (fn. 86) By 1381 most, if not all, of the land was evidently being farmed by tenants at will; the poll tax was paid by 24 tenants at will and 11 servants, but no freeholders were mentioned. (fn. 87)
Pickwell was inclosed in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. It had possessed three open fields (fn. 88) and in 1590, when inclosure had already produced two closes covering a total of 159 a., the open fields apparently still existed. (fn. 89) In 1615 some of the township seems still to have been uninclosed, for there is mention in that year of common of pasture at Pickwell; (fn. 90) but inclosure was then imminent since in 1625 it was stated that the inclosure was made about 1615. (fn. 91) John Cave, then the owner of much property at Pickwell, may have been chiefly responsible for the final inclosure. Leesthorpe was described as a pasture in 1557 and again in 1587, and had probably already been inclosed. (fn. 92)
In 1603, before the inclosure was complete, there were said to be some 120 communicants in the parish, (fn. 93) but in 1670 only 19 households were assessed for the hearth tax (fn. 94) and it seems likely that the population had fallen as a result of the inclosure. Since inclosure, the parish has remained chiefly under pasture. (fn. 95) During the 18th and 19th centuries the chief landowners were the Noel family, with a number of lesser owners. (fn. 96) The land was farmed by about 10 farmers and graziers during those centuries: in 1846, for example, there were 7 in Pickwell and 4 in Leesthorpe, and in 1932, 5 and 4 respectively. (fn. 97)
There was a mill, rendering 4d., at Pickwell and Leesthorpe in 1086. (fn. 98) A mill at Leesthorpe, apparently in the possession of Vaudey Abbey, is mentioned in 1247. (fn. 99) There were two mills in the parish, attached to the manor sold to Richard Cave, in 1532; they are repeatedly mentioned until 1638, (fn. 100) but no subsequent reference is known.
There is a surviving vestry minute book for the years 1717-95. There was only one constable, overseer, surveyor, and churchwarden, and in many years one person filled two, three, or all of the offices. In 1767 it was agreed that 5 named men should serve in rotation. (fn. 101) There was apparently no workhouse, and in 1802-3 8 adults and 3 children received out-relief. (fn. 102) In 1836 the parish joined the Melton Mowbray Union. (fn. 103)
A parish council, with 5 councillors, was formed in 1895. It was dissolved in 1936 when Pickwell was united with Somerby civil parish, and Pickwell became a ward of Somerby. (fn. 104)
There was a priest, and presumably a church, at Pickwell in 1086. (fn. 105) The church was not given to any religious house, but in 1220 it was recorded that Monks Kirby Priory (Warws.) was entitled to take three sheaves from John of Sproxton's demesne lands at Pickwell. (fn. 106) Since that priory's founder was Geoffrey de Wirce, the Domesday tenant-in-chief of Pickwell, the grant may have originated with him. (fn. 107) A chapel, no doubt dependent on the church at Pickwell, was mentioned in the hamlet of Leesthorpe in the early 14th century; (fn. 108) it was 'decayed' in 1642, (fn. 109) and no more is known of it. The rectory was by 1940 held together with Owston and Withcote, the incumbent being resident at Pickwell. (fn. 110) In 1959 it was joined with Somerby and Burrough on the Hill. (fn. 111)
Early in the 13th century the advowson of Pickwell was in dispute. In 1214 Roger de Camville claimed it from Hugh of Morwic and John of Sproxton. (fn. 112) Roger and John, after some litigation, came to an agreement, the terms of which are not known. (fn. 113) In 1218 Roger successfully claimed the right to present against Hugh of Morwic, and it was then stated that neither Hugh nor any of his ancestors had ever presented to Pickwell, and that Isabel de Camville, presumably Roger's ancestress, had formerly bestowed the living on a relative. (fn. 114) Subsequently Roger and John made a further agreement. (fn. 115) About 1220 they were joint patrons, presenting alternately. (fn. 116) John did in fact present to Pickwell at some date not later than 1218. (fn. 117) There were further disputes, and in an action concerning the advowson between a later John of Sproxton, presumably the heir of the John previously mentioned, and Robert de Curzon, John was successful. (fn. 118) About 1248-9 both Hugh of Morwic and Gilbert of Seagrave (fn. 119) at first attempted to present to Pickwell, but both withdrew, and John of Sproxton was able to present. (fn. 120) There is no record of any of the Camville family ever having in fact presented, but in 1274 John of Sproxton presented again. (fn. 121) After John's death the advowson evidently descended to his two nieces and co-heirs, and in 1297 Roger le Brabazon, husband of one niece, acquired it from the two daughters of the other. (fn. 122) The advowson subsequently descended with the manor until 1931, (fn. 123) when it was acquired by Canford School (Dors.). (fn. 124) In 1945 the patronage came into the possession of the Martyrs' Memorial and Church of England Trust, (fn. 125) which still held it in 1954. (fn. 126) After 1959 it was exercised alternately by the former patrons of the two parishes with which Pickwell was united.
The rectory was assessed at 12 marks in 1254 (fn. 127) and at £13 6s. 8d. in 1291. (fn. 128) It was worth £16 in 1535 (fn. 129) and £50 in 1650. (fn. 130) The living was augmented from Queen Anne's Bounty shortly before 1776, (fn. 131) and in 1831 it was worth £539. (fn. 132)
In 1638 the rector agreed that all tithes from Elizabeth Hicks, Viscountess Camden's land in Pickwell should be replaced by an annual payment of £60. (fn. 133) The tithes of the whole parish were in 1845 commuted for £527 a year. (fn. 134) Before the inclosure the glebe consisted of 17 a. in Rye Field, 13 a. in North Field, 19 a. in Langhill Field, 2 a. called Little Robin Holm, and 12 a. allowed for 12 cows. The rector recorded that he was forced to yield to the inclosure, but an equal amount of land, 63 a., was allotted, lying in 5 closes. (fn. 135) In 1674 the glebe inclosures totalled 60 a.; (fn. 136) the area of glebe varied only slightly during the 19th century (fn. 137) and was still 60 a. in 1948. (fn. 138) The former Rectory was built in 1856 at a cost of £1,200. (fn. 139) It is a gabled stone house in the Tudor style of the period. Local tradition has it that this was a shooting lodge of the earls of Gainsborough and that the Rectory which it replaced was allowed to fall into ruins. A symmetrically-fronted 18th-century house shown in Nichols's view of the church may have been this earlier Rectory. (fn. 140)
A cottage at Pickwell, which had been given as the endowment of a light in the church, was seised under the Chantry Act and in 1559 was granted to Sir George Howard. (fn. 141)
The rectory was vacant by deprivation in 1554 (fn. 142) and in the 1640's the rector, John Cave, was after much ill-treatment expelled from the benefice. (fn. 143) Cave's son William (1637-1713) was the author of a number of religious works. (fn. 144)
The church of ALL SAINTS consists of chancel, clerestoried nave with north and south aisles, south porch, and west tower. It is built of ironstone with limestone dressings, except for the 15th-century tower which is of grey limestone ashlar. The only visible remains of the Norman church are a fragment of ornament which has been built into the north clerestory and the tub-shaped font, carved with chevrons and intersecting arcades.
The earliest feature in the fabric of the church is the north arcade which dates from the early 13th century. This is of four bays and has semi-circular arches and circular piers with 'water-holding' bases and carved capitals; one of the central capitals has foliated ornament. The arcade originally extended one bay further east, which may indicate the existence of a former chapel, now demolished, at the east end of the north aisle. (fn. 145) The blocked arch to this fifth bay is still visible, both internally and externally, in the north wall of the chancel. The north aisle itself appears to have been rebuilt in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. The windows in the north wall include two of two cusped pointed lights with an encircled quatrefoil in each head; a third has three lights with intersecting tracery. The aisle contains three low-arched tomb recesses. Extensive building operations in the earlier 14th century included the building of the south aisle with its fourbay arcade, the reconstruction of the chancel, and, finally, the addition of a clerestory to the nave. The south arcade has pointed arches of two chamfered orders which spring from slender circular piers with carved capitals. A curious feature is a blocked lancet opening which is visible on the south side of the short stretch of wall which continues the line of the arcade at its east end. It has been suggested that this may represent a very narrow doorway to a rood-loft stair; alternatively it may have been an early-13thcentury window in the external wall of the church before the aisle was built. The south doorway has shafted jambs and carved capitals. These capitals and those of the porch arch have profiles which correspond to those of the south arcade. In general the south aisle is a more elaborate structure than the north: externally the buttresses have trefoil ornament at string level and deep niches above. The aisle contains two arched recesses for tombs and a pointed piscina with broached stops to the jambs. One altered window with forking tracery remains in the south wall but both ends of the aisle were altered in the 15th century. The early-14th-century chancel has three windows with curvilinear tracery, one now blocked. Externally the south wall has a continuous string which forms part of the hoodmould of the priest's door, is stepped down further west to sill level, and raised again at the junction of chancel and south aisle. The buttresses on this wall may have been added later. Considerable re-facing with grey limestone has taken place externally, possibly in the 15th century, and this is most noticeable on the north chancel wall. The present large east window is modern, replacing one of similar proportions, the pointed head of which had been blocked by the late 18th century. (fn. 146) A nearby buttress is dated 1774. The chancel contains triple-stepped sedilia with pointed heads, and a round-headed piscina with its bowl intact. On the east wall there is a carved bracket of the early 14th century. There is no chancel arch and the continuation of the north arcade eastwards from the nave indicates that there has been no structural division between nave and chancel since at least the 13th century. The clerestory, added to the nave towards the middle of the 14th century, has small two-light windows with two types of flowing tracery.
The west tower, probably built early in the 15th century, rises in three stages to an embattled parapet with angle pinnacles and prominent gargoyles. The heavy plinth moulding is continuous round the angle buttresses. The belfry stage has tall paired openings of two transomed lights with traceried heads. The tower arch, opening into the nave, has a hoodmould with carved stops which are similar to those on the small west window in the lowest stage of the tower. Other 15th-century work in the church includes the provision of a low-pitched roof and parapets to the chancel, as well as an embattled parapet to the south aisle. The east wall of the south aisle, with its partially restored window, is of the same period, as is the tall canopied niche at this end of the aisle. It is possible that 15th-century alterations were responsible for the disappearance of the extra bay at the east end of the north aisle. The east end of the aisle has a window of this date and the north wall of the chancel, which contains the blocked arch of the arcade, may well have been reconstructed at the same time.
About 1692 both the church fabric and its furnishings were found to be decayed. (fn. 147) In the late 18th century the church was twice examined by the archdeacon, and on both occasions it was found to be generally well-maintained, though minor repairs were ordered. (fn. 148) In 1832 the chancel and porch needed repair. (fn. 149) Ten years later the chancel was again criticized, and the pulpit and reading desk were considered inadequate. (fn. 150) In 1861 the church was extensively restored; the nave, chancel, and aisles were given new roofs, the south porch and south aisle were much repaired, new pews, (fn. 151) pulpit, and reading desk were provided, the plaster was removed from the walls, and the arch between the base of the tower and the nave was opened. It was planned to build a chancel arch, but this was not carried out because the necessary funds were not forthcoming. (fn. 152) New choir stalls and a new altar were provided in 1897, (fn. 153) and in 1911 the tower and church roof were repaired. (fn. 154)
On the north wall of the chancel are two memorials, one in the Gothic style of the period to the Revd. John Bright (d. 1843) and his wife Elizabeth (d. 1831), the other, in grey marble, to John Brown (d. 1734) and his wife Mary (d. 1746). Other memorials preserved in the tower commemorate Frances Dickinson (d. 1757) and Edward Muxloe (d. 1795) and his wife Elizabeth (d. 1830); on the south wall of the tower is a more elaborate white marble tablet to Rowland Brown (fn. 155) (d. 1712) and his wife Anne (d. 1733). A fine ornamented monument to Lt. Charles J. Harris (d. 1791) was noted by Nichols (fn. 156) but no longer remains. Several old grave slabs of stone and alabaster have been reset in the tower floor. (fn. 157) A charity board hangs above the tower stair door.
The church plate consists of a fine chalice of 1600 and two pewter plates. (fn. 158) There are four bells: (i) from its inscription, was given by William Cave; (fn. 159) (ii) and (iii) also of unknown date; (iv) 1893. (fn. 160) The registers date from 1573 and are substantially complete.
About 1790 there was a Sunday school at Pickwell, recently started, but no day school. (fn. 161) A day school was in existence by 1832. (fn. 162) In 1835 a National school was built by subscription, (fn. 163) and it was enlarged in 1883. (fn. 164) In 1922, when there were 24 children attending, it was decided that the school should be used for juniors only and that seniors should go to Melton Mowbray, but it was not until 1929 that the transfer of seniors was carried out. (fn. 165) In 1933, when 35 attended the primary school, it was closed and its pupils transferred to Somerby; children from Leesthorpe, however, were to be taken to Melton Mowbray. (fn. 166) Through local efforts the school building was later converted into a village hall. (fn. 167) It is an ironstone building with a low-pitched roof and with lancet and square-headed windows.
Hicks's charity was founded by Elizabeth, relict of Baptist Hicks, Viscount Camden. At her death in 1643 she bequeathed £100 for the purchase of a rent-charge of £5 a year at Pickwell, the money to be distributed to the poor of the parish. In 1652 her descendant, the 3rd Viscount Camden, conveyed to trustees a rent-charge of £6 a year, having added £1 himself, from certain closes at Pickwell. (fn. 168) Early in the 18th century the charity's revenue was being used to settle apprentices. (fn. 169) Distributions from the charity were still being made in 1936, when the money was being used to buy fuel for the poor. (fn. 170) By 1954 the charity had lapsed. (fn. 171)