Ss Mary and Hardulph, Breedon on the Hill

If you travel southwest from Nottingham on the A42, you espy Breedon on the Hill church from miles off, alone on its hilltop. It really does mean what it says on the tin, though quarrying has enhanced the effect. What you see today is the chancel of a 7th c. monastic foundation, along with the surviving crossing tower – the nave was demolished after the suppression of the monastery under Henry VIII.

The chancel is impressive enough, with triple lancets at the E end and a Perp. clerestory above. Once inside, your attention is grabbed by a massive enclosed Shirley family pew of 1627 in the N aisle, which would have ensured some degree of privacy, while most of the other woodwork is late 18th c. The Shirleys have their late 16th c. monuments at the end of the N aisle.

More significantly, the walls bear several sections of 8th c. Saxon carvings, which show how important this place was over a thousand years ago. The finest Saxon carving is out of sight up in the bell ringing chamber of the tower, but an exact replica was made in 2001 and placed at the west end of the N aisle, to be the culmination of your visit. It depicts an archangel, shown by the lily to be Gabriel; the artist is thought to have been inspired by Byzantine influences.

Pray: We beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts; that as we have known the Incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, so by his cross and passion, we may be brought to the glory of his resurrection.

Map reference SK406233

Simon Cotton