When I first came up with the idea for this site, one of the good things about it was the fact that I would visit places that I otherwise would never have seen. Whitwell is a small village at the side of the busy A606, just a couple of miles from Oakham. Just a few hundred yards off to the left is Rutland Water, which can just about be seen from the church grounds. This is the furthest flung church to the north west to be included in this site.
The church of St Michael & All Angels is a very small church. That does not matter. Small can be beautiful and this is the case here. This is an exquisite little church, one of the smallest churches within the catchment area of this site, and it is also one of my favourites!
I visited here in January 2011, on an afternoon when the sun was blazing down. Shadows were just starting to lengthen and mist was just starting to form over in the direction of Rutland Water. It was a delight to be out.
There was a church mentioned here in the Domesday Survey of 1086. It is thought that this may have been a place of Pagan worship long before that time. The name "Whitwell" has an interesting story attached to it. The site here was chosen by an early Christian missionary because there was a spring in which he could baptise his converts. It is thought that it was from this well, and the white clothes that those baptised would be wearing, that Whitwell got its name.
The present structure of St Michael dates mostly from the 13th and 14th centuries. There was an aisleless 12th century structure here at one point and this existing stonework may well have be incorporated in to these later extensions. In the 13th century the south aisle was added, along with the double bell cote and the chancel.
The chancel was altered in the 14th century, with the nave and aisle being buttressed and the porch also being added at this time. There has been much restoration here over the years. In 1825 the church was repaired and the chancel rebuilt. Further restoration took place in the early 1880's, at which point the stained glass was installed. The roof was repaired, as was the porch and chancel. In the 1970's the bell cote was repaired and the two bells re-hung.
There are two bells hanging here, and one of them is of considerable age. The first bell was cast by J Eayre of St Neots in 1749. The second though is one of the oldest church bells to be found in Rutland, and is inscribed with the Latin "IN : HONORE : SANCTI : EIUDII". North's Victorian study of the church bells of Rutland states that there are only 31 church bells in the county that can be confirmed as having been cast prior to 1600. This bell though dates back to the early years of the 15th century, dating from between 1405 and 1420
The church here is open and welcoming, as are so many in Rutland. There are a few things worth noting inside, starting with the font. The bowl of the font dates back to the 12th century, and it has some very crudely carved patterns on it. The lid is more recent, dating from the 17th century.
As was mentioned earlier most of the stained glass windows here date from Victorian times. However, there is some glass of considerable age.The top part of one of the south windows dates from the 14th century and is a depiction of the crucifiction.
There is stained glass on all four sides of the church, which makes the interior of St Michael a little dark. These windows include representations of the prophets on the north wall and a depiction of the crucifiction on the east wall of the chancel. Included on the south wall is Jesus' ride in to Jerusalem on a donkey and Jesus carrying his cross on the way to being crucified.
Clear glass was removed to make way for the stained glass, and apparantly some of the congregation at the time were less than happy that this happened.
Interested to see a floor slab commemorating Alexander Noel, who passed away in 1667. The Noel family were important landowners in the county for hundreds of years. The public House in the village still bears the family name, and there are several monuments to the Noel family at neighbouring Exton.
A delightful place to visit and well worth a look if you are in the area.