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Ashby St Ledger, St Leodegarius

Medieval church in Ashby St Ledger

A 14th/15th century building with very good furnishings. 15th century Rood Screen and pews,17th century three decker pulpit, 18th century box pews. The stained glass dates from the mid 19th century and is Ward & Nixon & J.Powell & sons. Only a fragment of the 14th and 15th century glass remains in the north and south aisles. The wall paintings discovered in 1929 date from the 14th to the early 16th century. Fine monuments including those to the Catesby family and later to the Ashleys attributed to Hedges and John Bacon. In church yard memorials to Lord Wimborne by Lutyens who also worked on the adjacent manor house and more generally buildings in the village. The earliest monuments in the church are to the Catesby family, brasses to Sir William Catesby (d. 1472) and his wife on the floor of the chancel, Richard Catesby (d. 1485) together with his wife, their two sons and two daughters near the altar. This is the Richard Catesby who was beheaded after the Battle of Bosworth Field: the “cat” in Shakespeare’s Richard III. Lastly that to George Catesby (d.1505) in the South aisle. Nearby is another brass memorial, the earliest in the Church, to Thomas Stokes (d. 1416) his wife, four sons, and twelve daughters. The arrival of a new style of monument dating from the late Elizabethan/early Jacobean period, can be seen in that to Brian Jansen and his wife which is on the wall, left of the altar. Here Mr & Mrs Jansen are shown kneeling on either side of a prayer desk, their progeny, five sons and four daughters ranged below. This is a memorial to a self made man: Alderman of London, High Sherriff of Buckinghamshire, who bought these estates late in life to set up his family as gentry. One can see what happened in the memorial opposite showing their eldest son John Jansen (d. 1663). Here is a sophisticated artistic memorial showing the deceased as a three quarter length turned statue in relief in a large oval medallion, pleasantly garlanded with swags. This is now attributed to Caius Gabriel Cibber. (1630-1700) Cibber was born at Flensbourg in Denmark and travelled in Italy and then to the Netherlands arriving here in the late 1650s. This tomb reveals the impact of Italian work of the period. You only have to think of side chapels in Roman churches to recall “opera box” figures like this, in their case looking towards the altar. Interestingly it is made of alabaster, a comparatively late use of the material that is until it was revived in the late 19th/early 20th century. The remaining tombs in the chancel are to the Ashley family. The two nearest the altar are Joseph Ashley (d. 1738) and Moses Ashley (d.1740). They are both by Nathaniel Hedges. He was mason to the Stationer’s Company from 1738 to 1784 and also worked at Hoare’s Bank and for Henry Hoare at Stourhead – chimney pieces. His memorial to Moses Ashley is probably his finest but there is also a fine portrait bust to Sir Thomas Denison at Harwood in Yorkshire. Adjacent is a fine work by John Bacon, RA, the subject of the talk at Cottesbrooke by Sir Timothy Clifford. It is to John Bentley Ashley (d. 1784) and his wife Jane. This large wall monument has a black marble obelisk topped with a cornucopia beneath which a flaming lamp stands on a classical sarcophagus in white marble. At this level stand figures of Justice and Piety flanking a central laudatory tablet. Note the original wrought iron balustrade to protect the investment. Opposite is the memorial to their son James Ashley (d. 1798) a simpler and smaller affair signed Henshall of London. This is the only known work by William Henshall. As you leave the church you enter a churchyard bereft of tombs except that to Lutyens’ patron the 2nd Lord Wimbourne (d. 1939) and his wife, Lady Alice Grosvenor (d. 1948). The former a tall tapering abstracted cross, emphasised by the use of steps dropping down to it. Equally abstracted, is the altar/sarcophagus standing adjacent to it. Fine late works by Sir Edwin.

Please refer to the Glossary for any terms in the text that you are unfamiliar with.

Contact & Opening Times

St Leodegarius, Main Street, Ashby St Ledger, Rugby, CV23 8UN|
[email protected]|

Opening Times

Church open during daylight hours


Contact Details

Please contact Mrs Janet Weaver 01327 312045

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Click the pins on the map to see other attractions nearby

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