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St Andrew’s Prestwold

st andrews church prestwold

This beautiful old church, parts of which date back to Norman times, lies in the grounds of Prestwold Hall. Access is from the B675 road past Doric columned entrance lodges, and along a rhododendron lined drive where it stands almost hidden by trees. The first view is of the 14th century west tower with its decorated masonry frieze visible below the battlements. The Nave is mid 18th century and was rebuilt in the perpendicular style in 1890. The Chancel houses a very fine collection of monuments to the Packe family. St Andrew’s is the mother church of the chapels at Burton-on-the-Wolds, Cotes and Hoton, although only the latter re-mains and is now closed for worship and converted to a residence.

Medieval Prestwold

Prestwold and the surrounding villages have Saxon origins (Wolds meaning wood easily cleared for settlement). The first documentary evidence of settlement is in the Doomsday Survey of 1086 AD, where 4 tenants-in-chief held manorial rights from the King, principally Hugh de Grentemaisnil (Earl of Chester), then Durant Malet, Robert de Jorz and Geoffrey de Wirce. More interestingly are the residents under tenants, the successive families of de Preswold, Poutrel, Nevill, Nele and Skipwith. As a monument to the Neles in Tugby church shows the coats of arms of de Prestwold and Poutrel, this suggest that the Neles were descended from the earlier owners of Prestwold. In 1228 Anketin de Prestwold gave the advowson (Right of Appointment of Priest) of Prestwold church and its chapels with 30 acres of land to the Priory and convent of Bullington, Lincolnshire. This was held despite many acrimonious challenges from their descendants until the dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII. Part of the Prestwold inheritance passed to John Poutrel of Cotes by marriage to Elias de Prestwold’s daughter in 1254. Poutrel’s held this until 1349 when it

passed through the female line via Walter of Gotham’s wife, Maud Poutrel, and their daughter and heir married one of the Nevills who were connected with Prestwold until 1445. The line then passed to Sir Richard Nele of Shepshed who married Isabel the heir of William Ryddynes of Prestwold.

Prestwold In More Modern Times

After the death, in 1486, of Sir Richard Nele, a King’s judge under five sovereigns, the line continued until Francis Nele died in 1560. His widow, Jane, married Sir Henry Skipworth, owner of the manor of Cotes, Preswold and Burton, whose grand-son later supported the Royalist cause in the Civil War. After fines and sequestration by Cromwell, the estate was sold in 1653 to Sir Christopher Packe, late Lord Mayor of London, a supporter of Cromwell. Following restoration of Charles II , he withdrew to his Cotes Hall, and since the mid 18th century at the newly rebuilt Prestwold Hall. The name Hussey was brought into the family and the lineage has now changed to Packe Drury Lowe

Prestwold Church Restorations

In 1743/44, the church underwent a general repair/rebuilding when most of its architectural beauties were destroyed, so only the tower and a low door and window to the south side of the Chancel remains. In 1846 the church had a clock and 5 bells, and was restored in 1890 by Hussey Packe under the direction of Sir Arthur Bloomfoed, when the Nave was entirely rebuilt in perpendicular style. At this stage the three deck pulpit, box pews and organ over the West door and gallery were removed and an oak ceiling and pews installed. A steeply pitched roof replaced the original low one. Photographs of the church taken long after the 1890 restoration show the tower with pinnacles on the 4 corners of the battlements subsequently removed. In 1989 extensive repairs were carried out, especially to the roof, with general refurbishment elsewhere by the Manpower Services Agency. In 1994 the bells, now 8 in number were rehung. The clock is the striking type with no external clock faces.

It was in 2003 that, following years of dedicated fundraising; alterations to the West end of the nave were started. A gallery was reinstated to provide additional seating and access to the adjacent, lowered bell-ringing chamber. A short flight of stairs was constructed to lead into the body of the church. The new West porch is accessed through double doors at the rear of the nave. In addition to these major changes the raised floor of the chancel was extended to include the pulpit and lectern area at the front of the nave and a modern oil fired central heating system was installed with a new boiler room con-structed in a corner of the vestry.

 

prestwold church 1860   prestwold 1860

Prestwold church before 1860 looking east. Prestwold church before 1860 looking west.

 

Church Interior And Monuments

prestwold church today

St Andrew’s Church today.

The Chancel

This is maintained by the Packe family and contains a number of memorials to their ascendants. There are rows of carved end family pews on either side. Above the altar is a

beautiful stained glass window, the centre panel depicting the Crucifixion, with scene of the Nativity and Ascension on either side. On the wall behind the altar is a decorative mosaic representing the Paschal lamb. The ancient baptismal font is of fine Italian marble. A family vault lies beneath the chancel and is accessed from the vestry.

Marble effigy of Charles Hussey

Marble effigy of Charles Hussey Packe (died 1842), attributed to Westmacott junior by Niklaus. Photograph by Bob Trubshaw.

The Nave

The chandeliers were originally designed for gas, supplied be a producer gas plant situated at Prestwold woodyard, for the hall, church and local use. More recently until electricity was installed, they were used as candleholders. These are now only lit for the annual carol service. Apart from several hatchments, one transferred from Hoton Church on closure, and an ancient woodwind instrument, the walls are devoid of decoration. There is a handsome carved pulpit and eagle lectern on the south side. The pipe organ, originally hand blown, probably dates from the 1890 restoration. At the western end is a baptismal font renovated and re-sited in 2004.

The Nave once contained a memorial to William Ryddnes and his wife whose daughter Isabel passed on the estate by marriage to Sir Richard Nele, however this has now been removed. There are also some floor slab memorials at the rear of the west porch.

An oak and plaster wall separates the nave from the tower, access to which is through the central double doors.

The West Porch

This was completely restored in 2003. The area beneath the gallery now houses toilet facilities , a refreshment preparation area and storage cupboard.

On the south wall on either side of the memorial to Mr John Noon Esq. are two Rolls of Honour naming those who served in the Great War of 1914. On the opposite side those who gave their lives in World War II are remembered.

The Tower

This is the oldest part of the church generally 14th century, as can be dated from the shape, decoration of the windows and door and the distinctive quatre foil lozenge frieze below the

battlements. The church is known to have existed in some form, on this site, since Norman times. There were until recently examples of identified masonry and artifacts from this period but unfortunately these were lost during previous church repairs. The bell tower now contains 8 bells, 3 of which were added during the 1890 restoration, with the ringing and bell chambers refur-bished and the bells re-hung in 1994. The new year of 2004 saw the bells rung from the newly lowered ringing chamber. This brought the ringers into the body of the church for the first time making them visible to the congregation.

In the Bell Register, the following bell weights (cwt. qtrs. Lbs.) and inscriptions are given:

The Treble (wt 3.1.26) No.2 (3.3.13) and No.3 (5.0.6) were cast in 1890 by J Taylor’s in Loughborough and donated by Hussey Packe. Bells No4 (6.0.11) and No.5 (6.2.11) were the gift of Charles James Packe in 1812, cast by J. Briant and inscribed J.Briant, Hertford, Fedit 1812. No.6 (6.3.14) and No.7 (8.0.16) were cast by J.Briant and inscribed, John Briant Hertford Fecit 1810 and 1809/. The Tenor bell (10.3.18) cast by J.Briant was inscribed The Rev C.J. Packe Rector and E.Gamble and T.Soames, J.Briant Herts, Fecit 1809.

On the south wall are photographs of the church taken prior to the remodelling in 1903. One shows the interior facing east, another the exterior, the third shows the interior facing west as does the fourth, which is taken from a print.

The Vestry

This was built on the North East end of the chancel; it gives access to the Packe family vault via a door and staircase leading below the Chancel. There is a plaque commemorating the 1890 restoration to Hussey Packe.