St Michael and All Angels Church, Brooksby

The Church is built in the Perpendicular style. The outside is decorated with battlements embellished with shields, quatrefoils pilasters. The base of the tower is early 14th century whereas the east of the tower is late 15th Century. The tower was extended and restored in 1620. The Gothic windows in the tower are different due to the restorations. The upper windows are 15th century and the lower windows are early 14th century.

The spire is small and well crocketted. The crockettes on the spire are late 19th century, although they are well weathered. Below the upper windows of the tower and on each of the four corners are gargoyles. These are grotesquely carved figures with pipes emerging from their mouths with a dual purpose of keeping the rainwater off the stonework while “warding off evil spirits”.
At the east end of the church above the battlements is a coat of arms of a shield with a raven and shells. The shells denote protector of providence and were part of the Villiers arms. The raven denotes divine providence and is thought to represent the Wright family connections. There is a similar coat of arms in the East window. This continues the Viking element in its History. Odin, the Norse God, was, according to mythology, accompanied by two Ravens.

An unusual feature of the church is the presence of two doors, a South door and a North door. The South door is the original entrance and was built to face the village. The door is of Gothic origin and the present door may be the original. Of solid oak, it dates back at least 500 years. This door is one of the finest of its age in the county. After the village of Brooksby disappeared as a result of the enclosure of the land for sheep grazing by Sir John Villiers in the late 15th century, the Lords of the Manor decided they did not want to walk from the hall to the rear door, so a smaller door was built on the North Side facing the Hall.

The inside of the church consists of a chancel, a nave and a vestry at the back.


The windows of the nave are of the Tudor period but are of a much simpler design than the windows in the tower. The small window to the right of the south door was donated by Joseph Grout Williams to commemorate the Coronation of George V and Mary in 1911.
The East window and the South window are decorated with shields showing the alliances of the Villiers’ family. All of these represent the family of George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham., born at Brooksby in 1592. There are 16 shields in the windows today, (12 in the East and four in the South); although John Nichols states that there were 24 in his “History of Leicestershire” published in 1795. The East window was restored in 2019.

Nichols also states that there was a very fine gothic doorway at the west to the vestry and in it a fine window. The archway remains, but there is no door. This was probably destroyed in the late 19th century when the church was struck by lightning.
There is a plain stone font at the back of the church. It is octagon shaped and has an old wooden cover mounted with a cross.

It is written that before the church was struck by lightning in 1874, the church was in a barn-like condition with plain open seats on each side. There were great improvements after this lightning strike. Ernest Chaplin lived at Brooksby from 1865 until 1890 and was largely responsible for organising (and no doubt raising much of) the money required for the major repairs after the storm. He worked hard for the church and his wife Sophie, played the organ.  Around £800 was raised for the restoration which included £300 from a bazaar held at the Hall selling donated goods from local inhabitants and tradesmen. The restoration included a pitch pine roof and seating for 100 people.

The oak pulpit was donated by Lady Cardigan who had it carved under her own supervision. Mr Winter Johnson, the architect, presented the reading desk and the lectern was given by Mr Gregg.
Mary Gregg and her sister Elizabeth had raised the money to pay for Mr Gregg’s incumbency. Mary & Elizabeth, under their maiden name of Kirby, wrote a few books of poems, essays and natural history books together, but they were better known for the moral stories they wrote for children. These 3 kind people are buried in the churchyard at the East end of the church. Their books can still be found in antiquarian bookshops.
Rev Arthur Carter raised the money for the altar as a thanksgiving for Peace after the First World War.

On the south side of the chancel is a marble plaque to Arthur Carter, who was rector of the church from 1887 to 1923. Arthur Carter is buried in the churchyard.
The Church plate dates from 1624 and consists of a chalice (communion cup) and a paten (plate for holding the host ‘bread’). A bell was hung in the tower in 1749 and there has been a church register since 1620.
Captain Stanley Williams, was the tenant of his eldest brother Joseph Grout Williams of Pendley Manor, Hertfordshire, who bought the Hall in 1890 and extended it in 1891 to the building we see today. The captain was resident with his wife and 5 children at Brooksby until a tragic hunting accident in 1897. Stanley was the grandfather of Dorian Williams and great grandfather to Robin Knox-Johnson who circumnavigated the world single-handed in 1969. There are two bibles in the church, one a gift from Joseph Grout Williams, and another to the memory of George G.A. Williams, the Captain’s third son who died in 1936?
The Hassocks were given in memory of a William Wilkinson, a well respected rural crafts instructor at Brooksby Farm Institute. He was affectionately known as “The Mole” and died in 1970.

The 20th Century

For most of the 20th century, Brooksby was closely linked with Thrussington. For 33 years the Rev HST Gahan was rector. He was, incidentally, the minister who administered the holy sacrament to Edith Cavell before she was executed during the First World War. On his death in 1956, Brooksby joined the parish of Hoby, Rotherby and Ragdale. The subsequent vicars were Rev TH Evans 1956 -58 and Rev DVS Asher 1958 -75. During the incumbency of Richard Chatham (1975-1985) Thrussington was joined with the parish until 1991. Then Thrussington went its own way and the Parish of the Upper Wreake was formed uniting Hoby, Rotherby, Brooksby and Ragdale with Frisby on the Wreake and Kirby Bellars. An informal service to launch the new Parish was held at Brooksby on 5th May 1991.

More recent changes and developments

A major restoration of the Church took place in 2007 when repairs to the spire and steeple were carried out as well as other general work to the rainwater goods and stonework under the guidance of English Heritage. This was generously supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Landfill Communities Fund, Leicestershire Historic Churches Trust, FLAG, the Headley Trust and Allchurches Trust.

In 2008 a further merger took place to form the South West Framland Group of Parishes. This consists of the Upper Wreake villages, the South Croxton Group (South Croxton, Gaddesby, Ashby Folville, Thorpe Satchville and Twyford) and the Burrough Hill Parishes (Somerby, Burrough on the Hill, Pickwell, Great Dalby and Little Dalby).

Most of the windows have been renovated by Lincolnshire Stained Glass Studio and a digital Viscount Envoy organ replaced the old second-hand pipe organ in 2013.

Significant stonework repairs, the restoration of the 18th century bell and installation of louvres in the spire have been completed 2020-2023.