THE small 12th-century church at
Welby, in Leicester diocese, sits alone, its
village and community lost long ago, probably victims of the Great
Plague, together with all memory of its original dedication. But it
has a modern and hard-working congregation that is busily restoring
it to make it fit for the 21st century.
For some years, it has been known as
St Bartholomew's, and now it is properly so, because the Bishop of
Leicester, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, came to rededicate it to that
saint. And, on the same day, travelling by decorated shooting wagon
(above), he also dedicated another ancient parish church,
at Sysonby, down a country lane not far from Melton.
It was always a chapelry of St Mary's,
in Melton Mowbray, and was restored many years ago. It has been
used perhaps half a dozen times a year. Recently, it has been
updated with new lighting and heating, and members of its
congregation are working towards more regular services: they hope
that they can soon become monthly.
On its single bell, until it was
recast in Victorian times, it bore a dedication to St Leonard, and
so that is the new dedication. Afterwards, there was general
rejoicing in the team parish of Melton Mowbray, to which these two
churches belong, and a joint party was held in a hotel.