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Two at once

06 July 2012

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.

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