With thanks to the Historic England Angel Awards
On the side of the angels...
Renovations after arson, lead theft and a major flood lead to a national award
In 2014 we were absolutely delighted when Brian Cooke, Churchwarden, won a prestigious Historic England Angel Award in the category 'Best Rescue or Repair of a Historic Place of Worship' for his work on restoring the church after disaster struck twice in quick succession.
The Historic England Angel Awards, founded by Andrew Lloyd Weber, are a celebration of people taking action to champion their local heritage. Watch the video to find out more.
All Saints Parish Church in Leamington Hastings has a long and interesting history. Going back to the earliest days, the remains of a Norman arch lie under the floor of the south aisle, perhaps from a church built here by William the Conqueror's baron, Hasculf Musard.
In 1122 Aintrop de Hastang, then the Lord of the Manor, helped endow the Augustinian Priory of St Oswald's near Pontefract. Among his gifts was Leamington Hastings church, with its glebe land and income from tithe. The Canons therefore became responsible for the pastoral care of the parish and maintenance of the church.
Extensive work was carried out in the church in the second half of the thirteenth century by the de Hastang family. The bay in the North Aisle was opened up to create a small chapel. This opening (behind the pulpit) and some traces on the outer wall are all that remain of a spiral staircase leading to a rood loft over a rood screen. There would have been a crucifix (rood) above the screen and the loft would have been used in services by musicians. Wood from the screen has been incorporated in the present pulpit and prayer desk.
In 1375 the male line of de Hastangs died out and Maud de Hastang and her husband Ralph Stafford, inherited Leamington Hastings. The extension of the north aisle, the stone tracery of its window, the fine though badly worn north porch and the tower all date form this period.
Sir Humphrey Stafford, a soldier who had fought at the battle of Agincourt under Henry V, was killed in 1450. The font which dates from this time may well have been given in memory of him.
On the left of the main altar is a monument to Sir Thomas Trevor, who in 1630 bought Leamington Hastings from the Stafford family. The Trevor coat of arms can been seen in the west window under the tower.
In 1703 the south aisle, including the arcade of pillars, was taken down to its foundations and rebuilt by the Wheeler family. The south porch was enlarged following hurricane damage to the roof; the wind had blown lead off the roof into a tree on the north side!
1879-1887 saw major restoration of the church under Sir Gilbert Scott. Plaster was stripped from walls and pillars, the nave floor was lowered, the nave roof panelled, and the tower opened up and restored. The chancel roof was reconstructed and new seating provided.
New choir stalls were given in 1913 in memory of Canon Sitwell, Vicar 1863-1909. The side aisle roofs were panelled, and north and south door ways were plastered in imitation of Early English style. The altar and sanctuary panelling were given in memory of Mary Ismene Wigram, wife of Gerard Wigram vicar from 1928.
On 30th November 2009, an act of arson in the new kitchen area destroyed the kitchen, the south aisle roof and the display cabinet containing the church's historic books, causing widespread smoke damage throughout the church. The church was unusable for a year while the south aisle roof, kitchen and other areas were reconstructed, repaired and the whole church cleaned. A subsequent lead theft and consequent flood caused further damage. The renovation work, headed by Brian Cooke, won a prestigious Historic England Angel Award.
Today, the church is a wonderful haven of peace and tranquillity from the hectic pace of modern life.