Monday, April 04, 2011

St Peter's, Belgrave, for sale

St Peter's church lies at the far end of a cul-de-sac leading off Thurcaston Road. It is a delightful backwater and makes one forget Leicester and the nearby traffic. On the E is Belgrave Hall, on their W is Belgrave House, their former gardens (now public) leading down to the little river with to the NW its packhorse bridge (mentioned by Leland) of seven arches...
says my Leicestershire Pevsner.

Belgrave Hall, once the home of the 19th century Liberal MP John Ellis, is now a museum. It was recently threatened with closure, but that plan has now been dropped. Belgrave House and its stables are empty and up for sale.

And so is St Peter's.

Pevsner promises a Norman porch and other sources suggest you can find one of those mysterious Medieval carvings of a green man inside. But on Saturday morning everything was locked and a "For Sale" sign was standing in the churchyard.

In a 1955 essay W.H. Auden describes his reaction during the Spanish Civil War upon the churches closed with no priests to be seen:
To my astonishment, this discovery left me profoundly shocked and disturbed. The feeling was far too intense to be the result of a mere liberal dislike of intolerance, the notion that it was wrong to stop people from doing what they like, even it it is something silly like going to church. I could not escape acknowledging that, however I had consciously ignored and rejected the Church for sixteen years, the existence of churches and what went on in them had all the time been very important to me.
I don't believe in God and there are plenty of temples to other gods in the streets around Belgrave if you have a taste for worship. But Auden's was a stronger version of my own reaction upon finding an ancient church like St Peter's boarded up and for sale.

Later. If you fancy buying St Peter's yourself you may wish to read the estate agent's prospectus.


Louise said...

I was shocked to see it up for sale but maybe that will save it from being vandalised

Wanderer said...

The church used to distribute a newsletter to homes in the parish, a small booklet printed on expensive glossy paper. As a precocious eight-year old, I read of the vicar's dismay at a recent novel, not named to protect the prurient from themselves, freely available in the local library. To my surprise I realised that the novel I was furtively reading three years later in another library on the other side of the county was the very same as that which had so upset the vicar in 1970: Brian Aldiss' 'The Hand-Reared Boy'.