As part of the Mayflower 400 project we have been completing historical research around the UK. One of our topics has been the Reformation and its impact on local churches.
We recently went to look at 6 churches with Roger Wilson, an expert in Church history, to see how they have changed over the last 400+ years. The churches we visited were spread across Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire.
The fourth church we went to see was St John the Baptist in Kings Norton in Leicestershire which is without doubt one of the most beautiful churches in England especially when viewed in the distance over rolling Leicestershire countryside.
It is equally stunning when looked at close up.
This is a Gothic Revival Church built in in the 1760s by John Wing for the Lord of the Manor William Fortrey. It cost £20,000 (equivalent to £3.5m in 2018).
Inside is a simple design reflecting the strong Georgian Anglicanism style. It is single lofty rectangular room with a loft space over the single door at the west end. There is little wall decoration. The windows are large with elaborate stone and ironwork but without stained glass.
The woodwork is Norwegian Pine. The whole being simple, crisp and clean.
The pulpit is a triple decker – the first I have ever seen – central at the east end nave. Low level gates provide the demarcation between the nave and chancel. The lower deck is for the clerk. the reading pew is in the middle and the top is for the congregational leader.
The gallery is supported by wooden Roman Doric columns and match those of the top tier in the pulpit.
It is likely that the original organ was located on the gallery but was destroyed when the spire collapsed after being struck by lightning. A new organ was installed in 1850s in its presentation location in the box pews.
The alter rail is simple but has high quality Gothic style carving which matches the windows as a decoration.
In the churchyard is a memorial to William Fortreys parents – William and Anne. A photograph of a picture of the Fortrey family hangs below the gallery.