St Wilfrid's Church, Kibworth in the Diocese of Leicester

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Extract from THE GENTLEMAN’S MAGAZINE, August 1825

Kibworth Rectory - 27July, 1825

The awful event which has recently taken place at Kibworth, Co. Leicester, together with the causes that led to it, having been previously represented, I deem it proper to request your insertion of the following particulars authenticated by my own personal observation.

At 9.0 o’clock in the forenoon of Saturday last (Ed. 23rd July, 1825), the ancient and venerable tower and spire of Kibworth Church fell to the ground. Various symptoms of decay, about the lower part of the S.W. angle, had been discovered, and partially remedied, above 2 years ago. The originally defective materials having, since that period, more visibly yielded to the pressure of the superincumbent mass, Mr. Wm. Parsons, of Leicester, was called in about a month ago to inspect the state of the tower, and, under his direction, the masons had made considerable progress in the work of reparation. On Thursday last, however, the fissures and which had appeared in numerous places - were found to have increased in so alarming a degree, that Mr. Parsons was again summoned without loss of time. On his arrival on Friday morning, he ordered that the tower should be propped with inclining beams, till permanent support could be given, by removing all the decayed parts and supplying their place with strong masonry. The carpenters began their operations on Saturday morning, but were almost immediately compelled to desist. Violent disruptions in various places, accompanied by threatening sounds were now incessantly going on, and the site was left to its inevitable fate.

A short time before the final event, I had been informed at the Rectory that Mr. Oldfield, who had just arrived from Leicester, for the purpose of beginning to paint the pews, desired to see me at the Church. Unacquainted as yet with the imminent danger, of which Mr. Oldfield had been equally ignorant, I immediately went to Church, entered at the Chancel door, advanced towards the West end where the mischief was gathering, heard the noises before mentioned, suddenly retired by the same door, proceeded round the East end towards the North gate of the Church yard and there found the different workmen with a few other persons intensely watching the steeple, and, as they told me, every moment expecting its fall. I took my station among them, and in less than a minute after several premonitory crashings, the whole fabric bowed from the summit over the base, paused for a few seconds, and then, as with one collective effort, came down in a thundering cataract of ruins. A thousand years could not efface the impression made upon soul and my senses by the grand, the astounding catastrophe.

Through the immediate and most merciful interposition of God’s providence not a life was lost, not the slightest bodily injury sustained by human being.

Praise be to His Holy Name!

James Beresford, Rector of Kibworth, 1812-1841

The church and spire from the north-east, 1791.

Immediately following the disaster in July, 1825.

Pinnacle problems in Autumn 2008

Clock Wise Professional (1997)

When Richard White (of Smeeton Westerby) first asked Steven Lee (Rector 1995 to 2006) in early 1997 if he could create the third clock face on the west side of St. Wilfrid's Church tower, little did he think this would lead to a co-operative venture that culminated in the unveiling of the new clock face in late October.

Richard White set himself the challenge to complete the job that John Hanbury started in 1836 when the other two clock faces were installed after the re-construction of the tower. The Friends of St Wilfrid's offered to underwrite the costs and Richard called upon the help of various others - Alf Herbert, of Market Harborough, who gold leafed the numerals on the clock face; Jim Watts, of Market Harborough, gilded the new clock face; David Illson, of Gumley, produced photographs for scale reproductions of the new hands; John Burbidge, of Kibworth, boxed the new drive mechanism; and Colin Kilbourn, of Lubbenham, loaned and erected the scaffolding.

Richard met with the Diocesan clock expert on 8th April 1997 and the project was agreed.  The clock mechanism had to power three sets of hands instead of the original two sets.  By October, Richard and his helpers had completed a magnificent project and the three clock faces have worked in unison ever since.  Thank you Richard for your expertise, patience and the time to undertake this restoration.

Richard Darke

St Wilfrid’s Church Tower News - 2008/9

Following detailed discussions with the architect, the PCC, on 11th November, approved the award of the contract to Jamie Witcombe. He immediately started work on 12th November with the scaffolding being erected up the west side of the tower, and the two levels of boarding cantilevered around all sides.

As you will be aware our beautiful ancient church has its tower now shrouded in scaffolding.  WHY?  The pinnacles on the top corners of the tower are suffering due to both age and the British weather!  Water has seeped between the individual stone sections of each pinnacle and corroded the supporting metal rods within.  Mortar has been washed and blown out resulting in the fact that some of the stone sections have moved and were in danger of falling! The roof of the tower is covered in roofing felt NOT lead as the rest of the church roof.  This felt has worn away in parts and water has caused some damage to the timbers.

Our architect has advised that to remove stone sections of the pinnacles would cause even more damage to the stone.  As a result slate wedges will be used to level the stone sections and a plasticised mortar injected to secure the stone and then lime mortar will be used to point the joints and stop water entering.  The roof will be re-felted after any damaged timbers are replaced.

It is hoped that the work will be completed before Christmas.  The total cost of the repairs is estimated to be £30,000. While we are contacting charities and organizations that offer financial support for repairs to ancient buildings, there is NO guarantee that any monies will be forthcoming.  The PCC has a duty to look after this wonderful building on behalf of our whole community and future generations. They would welcome your support in this by any donation, no matter how small, to help cover the cost of the repairs.  If you feel you could help please give/send your donation to Michael Pearce or one of the Church Wardens.  Cheques should be made payable to “Kibworth PCC”.

Michael Pearce  

On Thursday 27th November, 2008, we received the good news that the work to the pinnacles is now complete, and Jamie has arranged to have the upper level of the scaffolding removed on 1st December so that work on the roof repairs can proceed.  

The 170 year old pinnacles on the tower have been mended. Jamie Witcombe did a fantastically quick job, meeting the architect's specifications, and delighting villagers by leaving a cross shape in Christmas lighting on the scaffolding until after Christmas.

There are some minor repairs needed internally now and we still have some funds to raise, but all in all, a job well done. Unfortunately the flag could not be raised on St George's Day (23rd April) because the internal ladder has been declared unsafe.



 Last updated on Sunday, 31 October 2010 by Kevin Feltham (Webmaster)

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