The Reredos

The reredos is the decorated wall area beneath the East Window and behind the High Altar. In St Peter’s Church, this takes the form of alabaster with numerous carvings relating to the Holy Sacraments and celebration of Holy Communion.

There are plaques with ears of wheat and grapes, the source of bread and wine, and a pelican nursing her chicks. The pelican is a bird in myth also associated with sacrifice in blood of a mother for her children – as Christ for His people.

The highlight of the reredos is another large alabaster, carved by J Reid. It depicts, in relief, the painting of ‘The Last Supper’ by Leonado da Vinci.

It is a tour-de-force, with close attention to the detail and composition of the original, with life and movement in every character, with the exception of Christ alone, silently waiting.

St Peter’s Church, Reredos: Last Supper, J Reid, after Leonardo Da Vinci
St Peter's Church Langton: East Window and High Altar with reredos
St Peter’s Church Langton: East Window and High Altar with reredos

The Building

St Peter’s tall 14th Century tower is an imposing landmark. It stands in its churchyard completely encircled by redbrick walls as part of the small Church Langton village.

The church is large and very tall.  It consists of a nave (the main body) with north and south aisles, south porch, west tower, chancel to which is attached on the north  a Victorian vestry and organ chamber. 

St Peter's Nave - Celestry
St Peter’s Nave – Celestry

It is mainly of ashlar (smooth sawn) white limestone but has some brown ironstone rubble (rough stone) in the aisles.

This is perpendicular, early 15thC, as is the bell tower with its clasped buttresses and tall louvered windows. Both clerestory and tower are battlemented.

St Peter's Church Langton, Tower in Autumn 2020
St Peter’s Church Langton, Tower in Autumn 2020

This was a great rebuilding, but some earlier features remain, in the windows, notably  in the south aisle, in the two canopied recessed tombs and the sedilia and piscina in the chancel. There is a variety of windows in the aisles from the 13th to 15th centuries.

Inside the impression is of a 19th century interior imposed on a soaring mediaeval building. The tall 15thC  4-bay arcade, worthy of East Anglian great churches, is notable with its slender composite piers of continuous moulding and small semi-round columns with moulded capitals (tops). This with, the very tall chancel and tower arches, tower and clerestory (uppers walls and windows) dates from the  15thC perpendicular rebuilding. 

St Peter's: View to the High Altar
St Peter’s: View to the High Altar

In the mid 1860s in there was a major re-ordering to create a church interior in line with 19thC thinking.  The architect was Henry Goddard of Leicester under The Revd Thomas Hanbury and cost  £3199. (A very great sum then) The walls were scraped of their plaster to leave rough stone exposed, there was a new timber roof, William Hanbury’s great organ of 1759 was moved from the tower to the chancel which necessitated building a new organ chamber; this was attached to a new vestry. There were new pews, pulpit, lectern and altar, new altar rails, and new encaustic tiles in the Chancel. The mediaeval font – adapted in 1662 with a date – and the pulleyed wooden font cover were reset on 19th coloured tiles.

National Trust Heritage Open Days

St. Peter’s, Church Langton

Stonton Road, Church Langton, Market Harborough, Leicestershire LE16 7SZ

Join our guided tour of the church, highlighting the architectural and historical features. St. Peter’s hosted the first performance of Handel’s Messiah in a parish church. 

St. Peter’s is the Mother Church of The Langtons, dating back to Norman times and was possibly an Anglo Saxon minster. This medieval church, of amazing proportions has so much heritage of interest dating from the late 13th and early 14th centuries with the tower, clerestory and nave arcades, the work of the 15th century.

Rector William Hanbury organised the first performance of Handel’s Messiah in a Parish Church in England in St Peter’s on 27th September 1759.

Victorian renovations resulted in the elaborate carvings on the pews and pulpit and a reredos in the chancel which is an alabaster representation of the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.

Opening Times                                                                                              

Sunday 13th September: 14.00 Please note this has been cancelled 😦

Wednesday 16th September: 14.00 – There are a few places left, so book now 🙂

Booking Details

Numbers limited to 15, booking required.                                                           
Contact: Roz Folwell 01858 545160 r.folwell@btinternet.com or Maxine Johnson 01858 545745 maxinejohnson.1@btinternet.com

Access

No wheelchair access, uneven ground in churchyard.

COVID-19 Considerations

This event will run in line with local & national government guidelines at the time of the festival. Please WEAR MASKS and be aware of social distancingThere are no hand washing facilities but sanitising gel will be provided. Please do not attend if anyone in your family is exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms.

Additional Information

No toilet facilities.
Printed Guide available for £1. Please bring correct money.                    
Maximum 15 people per tour. Tour lasts 95 minutes

Heritage open days