Church of England and St George’s Church
Church of England
For centuries, Swannington and Thringstone were townships within the parish of Whitwick. Swannington residents were faced with a mile and a half walk from Main Street along Church Lane to St John the Baptist parish church in Whitwick. For many residents it was much further.
Francis Merewether, Rector of Coleorton and Vicar of Whitwick for more than 40 years, was the driving force behind the building of St George’s Church in Swannington (1825) and St Andrew’s Church in Thringstone (1863).
The poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850) was a regular guest of Sir George Howland Beaumont at Coleorton Hall. His son John became Curate at Whitwick. William corresponded with Sir George and wrote several poems featuring him and / or Coleorton Hall such as Inscriptions in the ground of Coleorton
Construction of St George’s Church
St George’s Church was built in 1825. The poet William Wordsworth’s diary records walking with his host, Sir George Howland Beaumont to choose the site of the church:
- During the month of December 1820, I accompanied a much-beloved and honoured Friend in a walk through different parts of his estate, with a view to fix upon the site of a new Church which he intended to erect.
Others claim that Lady Beaumont chose the site as it was a place where her husband liked to paint. It is likely that both claims as correct, as it would be natural for Sir George to take his guest to the place he liked to paint and suggest it as the site for the church.
The original name was St George’s Whitwick as both Swannington and Thringstone were part of the ecclesiastical parish of Whitwick. In 1875 St George’s became a parish in its own right. The ecclesiastical parish boundaries are somewhat different to the civil parish boundaries, as they included Peggs Green and Stordon Grange.
Development of the Church
- 1904 – New Chancel dedicated on St George’s Day.
- 1915 – Communion rail installed and Sanctuary tiled. New pulpit and lectern installed.
- 1933 – Oil lamp holders converted to provide electric lights.
- 1936 – Heating system installed, with boiler in the cellar.
- 1935 – East window repaired and rewired.
- 1951 – Manual pumped organ replaced by a new organ built by S Taylor & Co of Leicester.
- 1960s – Repairs due to subsidence, National Coal Board contributed.
- 1983 – Church became a listed building.
Vicars and Curates
- Henry Walford 1827 – Curate, conducted first baptisms and burials at Swannington
- Robert Drummond – officiated at many services during the Walford / Babington interregnum
- Matthew Drake Babington 1828 – Curate
- Thomas Hunt 1847 – Curate
- Samuel Smith 1851 – Curate
- John Hewett 1857 – Curate
- Frederick Thorpe Pearson 1866 – Curate, 1875 Vicar of Swannington after it became an independent parish, buried at Swannington
- John Barnes Brearley 1892 – Vicar of Swannington, responsible for building Swannington Infants School / Mission Hall 1894
- John Hooley Ella Bailey 1895 – Vicar of Swannington, physically built the new chancel 1904 with the help of Mee’s blacksmith’s apprentice
- Greenwood Robinson 1913 – Vicar of Swannington, previously a Baptist Minister, buried at Swannington. He visited Swannington people whether Anglicans or not. His strict views would not allow the school hall to be hired for a charity whist drive or dance.
- Lawrence Willy Wray 1932 – Vicar of Swannington, 1939-1945 Army Chaplain
- C W J Perry – Vicar of Osgathorpe, Acting Curate 1939-1945
- Robert Loxton Williams 1946 – Vicar
- Leonard David Barnes 1959 – Vicar of Swannington, collapsed and died in the churchyard 1971
- Phillip Edgar Hunt 1972 – Vicar of Swannington and Rector of Coleorton
- Raymond Parkinson 1979 – Vicar of Swannington and Coleorton
- Kerry Charles Emmet 1989 – Vicar of Swannington and Ravenstone
Life of St George’s Church
- 1852 – Two full services every week, instead of alternating between morning and afternoon.
- 1894 – Rev Brearley responsible for building infants school and mission hall in centre of village.
- 1932 – Rev Wray and Sunday School Superintendent Bill Smith started a boys club at the vicarage.
- 1933 – Electric lighting installed at the vicarage. Mothers’ Union started.
- 1975 – 150th anniversary celebrations.
- 1975 – Amalgamation of the benefices of Swannington and Coleorton
- 1983 – Flower festival celebrated 150th anniversary of the Leicester and Swannington Railway.
- 1986 – Title of the benefice changed from Whitwick St George to Swannington St George
- 1988 – United benefice of Swannington and Ravenstone, vicarage sold.
St George’s Church Graveyard
Nurse Walden of Swannington Isolation Hospital
Nurse Walden succeeded Annie Platts
- George Arthur Edward, Beloved Husband of, Eleanor Walden, Matron of Swannington Hospital, Died 10th June 1937, Aged 51 years
- Also, Eleanor Walden, Died 9th October 1970, Aged 86 years, Well Done Thou Good and Faithfull Servant
The Infants School / Mission Hall was built in 1894. This is the part of Swannington School closest to the road. The Infants School provided valuable new accommodation for the youngest children, reducing the overcrowding issues in the previous building.
The building doubled up as a Mission Hall where the Vicar could hold services on Sundays. This is why the roof has a cross at one end. For St George’s Church this was a valuable base in the centre of the village. It was far more convenient for many parishioners for whom the two Methodist Chapels must have been tempting on a cold and wet winter’s day.