Holy Trinity, Teigh, Rutland

This quiet little village inhabits the backwaters of the flat, farming landscape south-east of Melton Mowbray; sheep graze the churchyard around the little tower and nave. Next to the church is a fine Georgian Rectory used by the BBC as Mr Collins’ rectory in the 1994 version of Pride and Prejudice.

Today, of course, it is an Old Rectory. Go in through the tower, open the west door of the nave and you are confronted by seating facing north and south, college chapel style, and by the altar at the E end, flanked by Commandment boards, all a rebuild of 1782. Now, you’ve just seen the same thing at nearby Stapleford, rebuilt a year after Teigh, by the same Rector, Robert Sherard, the Fourth Earl of Harborough. ‘Where’s the pulpit?’ you cry; as in the best pantomimes, it’s behind you. For Teigh is unique in having a Gothic pulpit above the west entrance into the nave, flanked by clerk’s desk and reading desk; and that’s not all, for the surrounds of the pulpit have a painted window, complete with make-believe trees and sky.

It is so Strawberry Hill gothic that you feel there should be Ninian Comper strawberries there. No one knows if this singular layout was a device to make sure that the congregation sat at the front, but it reminds us that religion in the eighteenth century had its vitality in unexpected ways. Robert Sherard brought up his daughter, Lucy, in the old High Church tradition; she in turn passed it on to her second son, Edward Bouverie Pusey, and it was her exposition of the Catechism that taught him the doctrine of the Real Presence.

Pusey said: ‘Behind my mother, though of course I did not know it at the time, was the Catholic Church’ (Liddon’s Life of Edward Bouverie Pusey).

Map reference: SK 860160

Simon Cotton