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St Thomas Becket, Tugby, Leicestershire

(52°36′5″N, 0°52′40″W)
SK 761 010
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Leicestershire
now Leicestershire
  • Richard Jewell
  • Ron Baxter
  • Jennifer Alexander
  • Ron Baxter
22 Oct 1989 (RJ), 2 September 2014 (JA), 2 March 2023 (RB)

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Feature Sets

Tugby is a village in the Harborough district of E Leicestershire, 12 miles E of Leicester and 11 miles S of Melton Mowbray. The church is built of ironstone rubble with limestone dressings, and consists of a 4-stage tower, a nave with S aisle, S porch and clerestorey and a chancel with a S chapel. The tower is Romanesque in its entirety but includes work of two periods. The narrow W doorway and window above it belong to the original campaign, but the buttresses and associated stringcourse, the rendered top storey with its bell-openings and corbel table as well as a reset window in the S wall of the 2nd storey belong to a later modification. The S doorway is of the later 12thc and its porch was added in a Romanesque style in 1873, re-using some Romanesque material. The chancel chapel has a S doorway of the late 12thc reset in 1857-58 when the church was restored and the chancel largely rebuilt. This restoration also involved the rebuilding of the early 14thc nave arcade.


Tugby was held by the king in 1086 and was assessed at 8 carucates of land with 10 acres of meadow and woodland 2 furlongs by 1. The Verdun family acquired the fee to Tugby soon after the Norman Conquest, and in the reign of Henry II Bertram de Verdun gave the church and all his demesne lands here to the abbey of Croxden in Staffs, which he had founded. The church remained the property of the Abbot of Croxden throughout the medieval period.


Exterior Features



Exterior Decoration

String courses
Corbel tables, corbels

Most of the Romanesque work is in the W tower, but it is clearly of two periods. The earliest of the windows, on the 1st storeys of the W and S walls, have very crude labels which suggest an early date. Whether this is before or after the Conquest is hard to say. The List Description suggests that the three lowest stages of the tower may be Anglo-Saxon, but Pevsner disagrees. At some stage towards the end of the 12thc the top storey was added along with shallow angle buttresses on all four corners, rising to the top of the second storey. Presumably it was thought that the lower stages would not take the extra weight without support. In the second stage of the W wall an elaborate double window with a polygonal chevron-decorated shaft has been inserted. There is no obvious place in the church it could have come from and David Parsons has suggested that it is possibly of domestic origin, as subdivided windows are normally found only in belfry stages (Pevsner, 412 note). The eroded corbel table is worth close study. Most of the corbels show male heads, there are a few beasts and a simple roll (W4). Some of the heads are extremely expressive, and there is a definite emphasis on the corbels of the S wall; the main approach to the church for both laity and clergy. Both of the western angles have corbels with pairs of heads. On the less visible N face the corbels are more repetitive, except for what appears to be a female exhibitionist (N1) The S nave doorway, curiously not noticed by Pevsner but described in the List Description is late 12thc, perhaps 1180-90. The porch entrance is substantially of 1873 but does re-use some 12thc material.

The dedication to St Thomas Becket is taken from the church signboard, although the benefice website prefers St Thomas a Becket as do Pevsner and the Leicester Diocese. The Church of England website A church near you uses both forms on different pages of the entry. More worrying is the assignation to St Thomas a Becket as the pre-Reformation dedication by Arnold-Forster. The preferred medieval form of this saint's name was St Thomas of Canterbury, and St Thomas a Becket is considered to be a post-Reformation invention (Barlow, 11-12).

  1. F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications or England’s Patron Saints, 3 vols, London 1899, 287.

F. Barlow, Thomas Becket, Berkeley (CA), 1986.

Historic England Listed Building, English Heritage Legacy ID:190889

J. Nichols, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, 4 vols, London 1795 – 1810-11, vol. 3, pt 1, 481, 483.

  1. N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, The Buildings of England: Leicestershire and Rutland, New Haven and London 2003, 412.