Church Histories – A brief introduction

Anglican worship in Mountsorrel

Since records began the village of Mountsorrel has always lain in two church parishes. The south end of the village is part of Rothley parish and initially had a chapel, dedicated to St. Nicholas, about halfway between the castle and the present Christ Church. The north end of the village is part of Barrow parish: its chapel, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, passed through many changes to become St. Peter’s Church as we know it today. The churches of Christ Church and St. Peter’s became a united benefice with the same vicar in 1983.

History of St. Peter’s

The chapel of St. John the Baptist was first built in around 1240. Its tower still stands but the rest of the chapel was rebuilt around 1440 and the belfry was added on top of the old tower. The current belfry is likely to be a replacement of what would have originally been one of timber construction.

The chapel was enlarged in 1795 and drastically rearranged, with the altar being moved to the west end just in front of the tower. In 1870 the building went through another dramatic transformation and the altar was returned to the east end. During this metamorphosis the mediaeval arches were demolished, the walls were increased in height, new and larger windows were installed and a new roof was put in place.

Despite the considerable changes made to the original chapel, much of the older building is still visible in the present structure. The old clock in the east gable dates from about 1780, and its mechanism is still in place inside the roof.

It is thought that the chapel became an independent church in January 1869, and the church became known as St. Peter’s at about the same time. However, the name seems to have dated – at least unofficially – much earlier, as St. Peter’s was mentioned in John Nichols’ history of Leicestershire in 1800.

The vestry was added in 1889 and the porch was built ten years later. The kitchen, toilet block and new organ chamber were built in 1999, and extensive (yet sympathetic) building work was undertaken in 2012 to improve disabled access and the vestry and kitchen areas.

History of Christ Church

The precise date of construction of the Chapel of St. Nicholas is unknown, but it was mentioned in a 1334 list of local churches. The chapel had a tower and chancel and it stood in its own chapel yard. It was no longer in use in 1586 when the site was sold. The chapel organisation, complete with its Church Wardens, continued until at least 1717 and there is historical record of a ‘curate of the South End’ – Mr Edward Robinson – in 1842.

Christ Church, together with its vicarage was built and endowed in 1844 by the generosity of Miss Sarah Brinton. A few years later it became an independent parish, extracted from the old parish of Rothley, with parish boundaries that became increasingly unrealistic over the years – part of the village of Mountsorrel lies, even today, in the ecclesiastical parish of Rothley.

The church still stands much as it did in 1844, but the chancel was lengthened in 1899 and the church lounge with its toilets and kitchen were added in 1984.