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St Michael and All Angels, Hallaton, Leicestershire

(52°33′38″N, 0°50′31″W)
SP 786 965
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Leicestershire
now Leicestershire
medieval Lincoln
now Leicester
  • Richard Jewell
22 Oct 1989

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=6240.

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Feature Sets

The village of Hallaton, eight miles north-east of Market Harborough, occupies a sloping site with a stream to the south and to the west what may have been a 12thc motte and bailey castle built to protect iron works (VCH, V, 121-33; Pevsner and Williamson, 1984, 171-72). The imposing church of St Michael lies on the south-west side of the village, half a mile below the castle site. Although the exterior of the church, including the dominant W tower, is largely 13thc and 14thc, Romanesque elements are preserved in the aisled interior. Notably part of the N arcade is late 12thc; otherwise it was extended in the 13thc when a new chancel was built. Most importantly for this Corpus a sculpted tympanum detached from its original doorway is now reset in the N porch. For Pevsner, this tympanum depicting St Michael fighting the Dragon was 'the best Norman tympanum in the county' (Pevsner and Williamson, 1984, 171-72).


According to The Domesday Survey, Hallaton with 6 carucates, had belonged to the Saxon Tochi, but by 1086 it was held by a Norman under-tenant from Geoffrey Alselin. The demense encompassed 2 ploughs and 2 serfs, 19 villeins, a socman, a freeman, and 2 bordars with 6 ploughs. Although no church is mentioned in The Domesday Survey, the parish was associated with Leeds Priory early in the 12thc. when Daniel Crevequer of Leeds (c. 1130-1177) granted the advowson of half the rectory to that Priory, which had been founded by his father Robert in 1119 (VCH, V, 1964, 121-33). The Priory appointed one rector who divided the income equally with the second rector.

The lands reverted to the king in 1155, and in 1171 King Henry II granted them to Thomas Bardolf on his marriage to Rose, the heir of Ralph Hanselin; she was probably a descendant of the family who had held Hallaton at the time of The Domesday Survey. Their son married Beatrice, the heir of William de Warenne of Wormegay. (VCH, V, 1964, 121-33)


Interior Features



Interior Decoration


All the sculpture is carved from the local white or yellowish oolitic limestone. The tympanum, the finest in Leicestershire, dates from the second quarter of the 12thc and has survived both a Late Norman and a 14thc enlargement of the church. The N arcade capitals date from the third quarter of the 12thc. (Fieldworker)

For comparators for the tympanum, see the CRSBI entry for St Stephen, Moreton Valence, Gloucestershire.


C. E. Keyser, A list of Norman tympana and lintels: with figure or symbolical sculpture still or till recently existing in the churches of Great Britain, London, 1904, VIII, LXXI, 18, fig. 141.

J. Nichols, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, II part 2, facsimile of 1815 edition, reprinted with an introduction by Jack Simmons, Wakefield, 1971, 603, pl. c111.

N. Pevsner, G. K. Brandwood, E. Williamson, Leicestershire and Rutland, London, 1984, 171-72.

Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological Society, XIII, Part 1 (1923), ff.138.

Victoria County History: J. M. Lee and R. A. McKinley, 'Hallaton', in A History of the County of Leicestershire, V, Gartree Hundred, London, 1964, 121-133. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/leics/vol5/pp121-133 [accessed 13 November 2016].

G. Zarnecki, English Romanesque Sculpture, 1066-1140, London, 1951.