History of St Peter's, Gaulby

These four Guides have been assembled and edited by Canon Brian Davis, Priest in Charge of the Gaulby Group since October 2013 - please contact him if you find any mistakes or inaccuracies  (revbdavis@aol.com)





The village of Gaulby (which was also spelt as Galby) is just over seven miles east of Leicester and according to the 2001 census the population was 131. In 1086 the manor (called Galbi) was held by a Hugh de Grentesmesnil, who was born in Normandy in 1030 and died in Leicestershire in 1094. He came over with William the Conqueror in 1066 and as a reward during the Conquest was given much land in Leicestershire and further afield.


During the time of Henry II the income of the church in Gaulby was given to the leper colony hospital at Burton Lazars. In the 12th and 13th centuries the manor was held by the Earls of Leicester and then passed through various families until 1610 when it was bought by William Whalley, Lord of the Manor of nearby Kings Norton. It then passed to William Fortrey (his mother was a Whalley) who redesigned the church, building much of what you see today (externally), he also erected the beautiful nearby church at Kings Norton.There are records of an earlier church at Gaulby in the 12th century, but no trace of this exists in the current structure.


The church consists of a western tower, nave, chancel and south porch. The major rebuilding in 1741 caused friction between the rector at the time and William Fortrey and so the chancel (which dates from 16th Century) was left untouched (The chancel was always the property of the rector. Clergy were often buried there). The architect was Mr Wing from Leicester, whose son would go on to rebuild Kings Norton church for Fortrey. The brown ironstone comes from Billesdon Coplow and the cream stone probably from Stamford or Ketton in Rutland.


The major addition was the tower with its elaborate decorated pinnacles which look overlarge but are an interesting feature. Pevsner in his 'The Buildings of England: Leicestershire and Rutland' describes  the tower as having: 'Two stages with an antique band running between. Round-arched bell-openings, parapet, and a display of the craziest pinnacles: four small obelisks and four large encrusted pagoda-like objects.'


The interior is very plain. The most striking feature is the East Window of five lights.  The glass is very fine, and  depicts the resurrection and ascension of our Lord.   The inscription at the bottom of the window reads: 'In memory of The Reverend Thomas Charles Ord, Rector of Galby' (note the old spelling) 'Vicar of Kings Norton and Stretton Parva from 1828 to 1844'.  In 1960 the boxed pews were removed, and the present pews were imported from another church.  The pulpit was donated by Sir Charles Keene, who lived in the village.


In the tower are six bells cast for William Fortrey by Thomas Eayre of Kettering.

The church plate includes a silver flagon of 1701 given by 'Isabel Goosey virgin' and a silver cup of 1717. The church registers begin in 1738 and are complete.

The church is normally open, and teas served every Saturday (2.30 - 4.30pm)  during the months of May to August. There is also a toilet for the disabled in the church.

INTERESTING  MEMORIAL SLAB on the South side of the chancel floor. In the book ‘The incised slabs of Leicestershire and Rutland’ – the full inscription is given: “Here lies Martha, daughter of John Cholmly, esquire, wife of Thomas Toky, a woman most distinguished by her piety to God, her healing qualities of hand and mind in succouring the distressed and her charity to all; anointed with virtue in every part, she lived as one desirous of death above all things. She departed and was at peace on the 6th of February 1613". The stone has the faint remains of a shield whose charges are effaced (too worn to see what the detail was) surmounted by a crest, a cubit arm erect, the hand grasping a garb. Although this crest is found on no other surviving stone the article tells us that a garb features prominently in the heraldry of the Cholmeleys, and an example is on the crest of Cholmley of Easton Hall, Lincs. It suggests that the cubit arm grasping the garb rather than the garb being on a helmet was probably an earlier crest.

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