All Saints Church
Researched by Brenda Preece.
Domesday records show that a church was built by William D’Ayencourt before the Norman conquest. The records also mention a second church at Sutton, St. Etnelburga’s but this has long since disappeared. The probable date of the foundation is roughly 1150 A.D. although the first mention on the list of incumbents is William Punch 1253 A.D.
In 1155, Ralph D’Ayencourt founded the Priory of Thurgaton and gave to the Prior the livings of Granby and several other Vale of Belvoir churches. At the dissolution of the monasteries the patronage passed from the Prior to Queen Mary and King Philip of Spain, then to Queen Elisabeth who gave it to John Manners, founder of the Ducal Rutland line. In 1888, the church was restored at a cost of £1,400.
Walls of immense thickness suggest the tower may have been used as a stronghold and it is probably the oldest part of the building. In 1777, the tower (see the framed picture on the nave wall) was either removed or struck by lightning. Ornamentation was salvaged and reconstructed but only roughly five feet of the original tower remains. Two bells remained, the others possibly being melted down at the time of the civil war.
A new clock was added in the millenium year 2000 with its face on the west side and a hammer strike was added in 2005. After the Second World War, the tower and the bells were found to be unsafe resulting in a complete reconstruction in 1950 by Messers Bowman of Stamford at a cost of £1,037.
In 1953, a ring of five bells were re-hung by Gillet & Johnston of Croyden, a sixth bell being added later. The tower was screened by old oak from a ceiling at Rufford Abbey. There was an English doorway in the tower which, it is said, the Incumbent blocked up to stop the ringers slipping away from church.
The original studded door remains. The ancient font was turned upside down to form the base of a newer stone font. the north side of the nave seems to be leaning out although it appears vertical on the outside. It is possible that this was done to strengthen the foundations.
In pre-Reformation times, there was a north aisle dedicated to St. Nicholas with three altars and a rood screen. This was pulled down around 1770 due to its dilapidated condition.
On the north side there are two early English windows with a carved stone head above each one. There is a stones buss on each arch, grotesque face. On the south side, there is one Lancet and one perpendicular window.
The 15th Century poppyheads were probably carved about 1440. They consist of:
North side: pair of angels; pair of male figures; mermaid and merman; birds; conventional; conventional; country woman
South side: Pair of angels; conventional; animals with shield; pair of angels; grotesque faces; faces in foliage; conventional
The pulpit is Jacobean, dated 1629.
The south side windows are of the Transitional period. The doorway is Stuart with a gravestone forming the lintel. There are three Aumbries, one with wooden doors. There is an ancient oak table formerly used as an altar and a cross from the Flanders battlefield (see below). There is said to be a stone bee on the chancel above the Incumbent’s chair.
The Queen Anne altar rails have gravestones in front, one of which is inscribed as Abigail Frost, sister of Thomas Seekes, Archbishop of Canterbury. The Reredos are from Rufford Abbey. The tiles in the sanctuary are English and mediaeval and have a Fleur de Lyse patter.
The original east window was built of 16th century terra cotta. The diamond pattern windows were installed later and can still be seen but the present day stained glass window was designed and installed by Michael Stokes of Edwinstowe in 2002.
In 2009 the rooves of the chancel and the nave were replaced with Cumbrian slate along with other reconstructive masonry work. This work was supported by a grant from English Heritage.