Lyndon.  church : st martin of tours


   Lyndon is a tiny village just over a mile from North Luffenham, right on the very edge of the catchment area of this site. Edith Weston is roughly equidistant and the shores of Rutland Water are also close by to the North. I visited here first whilst with friends in April 2007. Re-visited in late Summer 2013, on a dullish Sinday afternoon, as David and myself worked our way around a few Rutland churches before taking in an evening prayer service at North Luffenham later that day.

    The church of St Martin of Tours sits in very attractive grounds, surrounded by huge trees. Martin was an officer in the Roman army who once cut his robe in half, giving half to a naked begger in the bitter cold. Turning to Christianity he was baptised and, after a struggle, he was discharged from the army. In 370 AD he was made Bishop of Tours and soon after moved to a quiet place where he could lead a medititive life. Throughout his life he showed a genuine concern for every human being, whether poor or rich. He died at the age of 82, and was one of the first non-martyr saints.

    The church itself is, for the most part, thirteenth and early fourteenth century. The font is thought to be earlier, and may point to the existence of an earlier church here. In past times this church has been in a very poor state of repair. I found a quote, dated from 1605, which stated that "the rain cometh in most intollerablie",

    As recent as Victorian times the church was in need of much repair and restoration was undertaken in the 1860's. The three stage tower is 14th century, with the top part being rebuilt a cetury later.

   Four bells hang here. The first was originally cast in 1597 but was re-cast by Taylor of Loughborough in 1889. The second, also re-cast by Taylor at the same time, was cast locally, by Tobias Norris I of the Stamford bellfoundry. This is dated 1624 and has the Latin inscription 'Omnia Fiant Ad Gloriem Dei' Let all things be done for the glory of God.

   The third bell came courtesy of celebrated Peterborough founder Henty Penn, and is dated 1716, with the name Samuel Barker Esquire inscribed on to it. The final bell is another from the Stamford bellfoundry, with Tobias Norris III doing the honours this time in 1687.

    As mentioned earlier, the font is thought to be earlier than the rest of the church. This is thought to date from the 12th century and i was found buried in the church grounds in 1865, when the Victorian restoration was in progress.

    The chancel dates from the fourteenth century. The marble pulpit dates from 1856: the marble reredos erected in 1865 depicts on the north side of the altar the Passover in Egypt, with the death of the firstborn as described in Exodus Chapter 12. On the south side Moses with the bronze snake from Numbers Chapter 11.  On the centre panel the symbols of the four evangelists: the winged book of St Matthew, the winged lion of St Mark, the winged bull of St Luke and the eagle of St John. A quite superb piece of work. The Pulpit is also marble.

   A couple of stone heads caught the eye, but not for the right reasons. Pictured second down of the left, this is one of the most crudely carved heads that I have ever seen. With great respect, the stonemason in question was not having his fines day possibly!

 Moving outside, there are gargoyles low down on the north and south walls of the nave. One of the gargoyles on the south wall is a large and fearsome looking beast with paws raised as if in the act of attack. One of the gargoyles on the north wall is a very cross looking eagle.

  The church grounds have some very finely carved stones in there, but as with most places in Rutland, a large percentage of the stones are very worn. At one point there has been a substancial  clearance, with many stones no longer in situ but leaning up against the walls of the church grounds.

   This is a lovely place to visit. Well worth a look, especially as there are several lovely churches within a short distance such as North and South Luffenham and Pickworth.


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