The Churches of Stoke Golding
The Church has evidence of its early 13th Century origins. It underwent extensive enlargement between 1290 and 1340 when the south aisle and Lady Chapel and the tower and spire were added. The chancel was widened in the 14th Century, and was rebuilt in 1882 when it acquired the quaint pitched roof. The high pitched roofs of the 15th Century were replaced by the lead covered roofs.
Described by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner as 'One of the most beautiful churches in Leicestershire' it stands at the head of Crown Hill,
The beautiful open-work quatrefoil parapet of the south wall is worth noting. This is matched by the parapet at the top of the tower with the heads of King Edward III and Queen Philippa on the south face.
The tower is a landmark of the surrounding area. It was taken down during the last war because of flights to and from nearby Lindley aerodrome, the numbered stones being carefully rebuilt afterwards.
Internally, the outstanding feature is the arcade between nave and aisle, of the early 14th century with shafted and filleted piers, moulded arches and carved capitals with foliage and heads, ladies with wimples, a youth with toothache and two 'green men'.
In the south wall is a tomb recess with an incised slab featuring a sword. The slab is c1275 and may cover the resting place of the person who was responsible for the enlarged and rebuilt church.
The south aisle and chapel contain two piscinae and the wall shows remnants of 14th Century wall paintings, one of which is thought to portray the Annunciation. The octagonal font dates from about 1330 and shows carved representations of Saints Nicholas, Margaret and Katharine and also heraldic panels.
Note the old Church chest, which shows the carved initials of churchwardens and the date 1636 although it is thought to be older. Two interesting paintings are dated 1824 and 1920.
Monuments include a large wall memorial in the lady chapel to Sir Henry Firebrace, and a 17th century brass almost hidden by the organ casing.
The Church has a fine ring of six bells, two of which date from the 17th Century. Its churchyard was closed for burials in 1883 when the Hinckley Road Cemetery opened.
The first Methodist Church was opened in Station Road in 1857, being a branch of the Primitive Methodist Church and part of the Nuneaton Queens Road Circuit.
It soon became too small for its members and by the turn of the century other premises were needed. The building was sold and a new one, erected at the back of the present Church on Main Street, was opened in October 1905. As it acted as a Sunday school as well as a church efforts continued to expand again, but not until 1933 was the present church building opened in front of the 1905 schoolroom. The church is now part of the Hinckley Circuit.
Oil lamps lit the Station Road building and the 1905 church, because electricity did not come to the village until the early 1920's. Heating was by coal or coke fires, the members attending church very early to 'stoke up'.
After the sale of the Station Road building many uses were made of it. Ladies met during the First World War years to knit comforts for the troops, and it became known as the Womens Hall. That faded name can still be seen today on its wall. Latterly it was used by the Gardening and Allotments Society as a store before being sold.
In 1932 the three main sections of the church The Primitives, the Wesleyans and the United Churches became one, The Methodist Church.
On 23rd July 1932 a turf cutting ceremony was held, this heralding the beginning of the construction of the new building. The next 'red letter day' was on 3rd September 1932 when a stone laying ceremony was held. One of the stones laid was by the MP for the area Sir William Edge, himself a Methodist. He placed in a cavity a sealed bottle containing the current preaching plan, an issue of the Hinckley Times (and Guardian) and other documents.
So, with great ceremony the New Church was opened to the public on 18th March 1933.
A General Baptist Chapel existed in the village in 1840, two of its members being Mary Brotherhood and William Princep.
Finding that the local teachings did not satisfy them they left to attend a Hinckley Chapel and because of their non attendance at the village chapel they were soon expelled. This caused other chapel members to resign and it was not long before they were all meeting in Mary's cottage for public worship, with William preaching The Word.
In 1852 Mary was left a legacy of £300 and although she was extremely poor, she purchased land next to her cottage for the building of a Particular Baptist Chapel devoting the whole sum to her project and the chapel was opened on 6th July 1853. Not content with this generous gift, she executed a Deed of Gift and the chapel and three or four adjoining cottages were conveyed to the Church Trustees.
The Church was formed with eight members with Princep as Pastor in 1855. Mary Brotherhood died aged 67 in 1870 and her cottage was bought by George Shilton, which, together with six other cottages he presented to the church.
Another benefactress Mrs Rubly of Dadlington, joined the church soon after Mary's death and in 1875 she paid £453 to enlarge the chapel and build a schoolroom, and new seats, a new pulpit and baptistry were provided. She too, willed a house and six cottages to support the church.
Congregations at the Chapel have never been large but the cause has continued to this day.
The Chapel is owned by the Dominican Sisters of St Catherine of Siena based in King Williams's Town, South Africa. Their order was founded in 1877 by a group of women from Augsburg Germany.
The Chapel is dedicated to the Holy Spirit and St Martin, a Dominican Saint of Porres in Lima, Peru. He had a knowledge of medicine and was made a Saint through his great devotion to The Lord and charitable acts to the sick and poor.
The Sisters bought the land and Stoke Lodge in 1948 and their Chapel began in a small room in the Lodge. Members of the public were allowed to attend their daily mass. At that time St Martin's was a private boarding school for girls of any denomination aged 11 to 18. They too attended worship.
In 1962/63 the school was greatly enlarged and became voluntary aided for boys and girls, Sister Louis Bertrand serving as headmistress for 26 years. At the same time the Convent was enlarged to include the new distinctive triangular shaped, copper roofed Chapel. This was opened on the first of January 1964.
The sisters still chant the prayer of the Church daily and have hosted The Women's Day of Prayer, and retreat groups of various denominations use the Chapel too.
Local people regularly attend the Tuesday or Sunday Mass in this peaceful and beautiful Chapel of St Martin de Porres.