Withcote Chapel, Leics

East of Leicester and to the north of the A47, much of High Leicestershire is a place of undulating landscape and delectable emptiness, with satisfying vistas in a minor key. Opposite Withcote Hall, the chapel is a simple rectangular box with Tudor windows, begun c.1500 by Catherine Smith and her first husband William, topped by battlements and pinnacles of 1744.

The interior was refitted in 1744 too; the altarpiece (bearing a copy of Murillo’s Two Trinities) is flanked by two 18th c. monuments. A good deal of original glazing remains, by Galyon Hone, the immigrant Fleming who became King’s Glazier to Henry VIII; here the glass is more viewable than his work at King’s College Chapel, if less complete. Most of the 12 Apostles (N side) and Prophets (S side, plus one on the N) survive, and there are several small figures lower down, including Christ and the two thieves, and Our Lady.

Armorial glass includes the arms of Roger and Catherine Ratcliffe, patrons of the glazing, and the phoenix of Jane Seymour, Henry’s queen for eighteen months, suggesting a date of 1536–7. Hone’s Apostles are recognisable by their emblems, whilst his richly-garbed, rather fleshy and prosperous Prophets on the south side bring to mind Fr Stanton’s remark, ‘Who ever heard of an established stranger, or an endowed pilgrim?’

Recall Exodus 2.22. ‘And Zipporah bare Moses a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.’ Pray that we may be hospitable to the stranger at our gates. Give thanks for immigrants who have enriched our nation and its culture.

Map Ref: SK 796 058

Simon Cotton