Delight by the River

NORMANTON-ON-SOAR. It lines the bank of the Soar where it is for a long placid stretch the delight of river lovers. Some of the gardens run down to the water, and from the churchyard high above it is a fine peep into Leicestershire, with a little white windmill by Beacon Hill, and a lovely glimpse of the winding river through an archway of roses on the rectory lawn.

The Old Post Office in Normanton-on-Soar, c.1905.
Normanton-on-Soar church, c.1910.
Normanton-on-Soar church, c.1910.

The treasure of the village is the aisleless church, almost wholly 13th century, with one of the county's two central towers crowned with a spire. The spire springs from a corbel table of heads much worn by time, and is lofty and beautiful. The transept forming the north arm of the cross is 19th century; the timbered porch is made new, but it shelters a lovely 13th century doorway letting us in.

Among the charming old windows are many lancets, one with a hood of four-leaved flowers. The great west window is a group of five. The east window, with quatrefoils in the tracery, is 14th century. The font was cut from a single stone and richly carved 600 years ago. The old altar stone in the lady chapel has still five consecration crosses, but the epitaphs on three old gravestones are worn with the feet of many generations. The panelled roof of the chancel has carved medallions, and five old tie-beams in the nave roof have carved bosses. Seven splendid oak benches are over 400 years old, there is an old chest, and the arms of Charles the Second are handsomely fashioned in plaster.

For over 300 years three people have been kneeling at prayer on the chancel wall, William Willoughby and his wife Susannah, and Frances Walkden, who married first a Willoughby and then Peter Columbell of Darley Pale. She wears a ruff and a hooded mantle over her gown.