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St Bartholomew, Quorn, Leicestershire

16/03/2017 and 31/05/2017: (Open). Quorn is only about three miles from Swithland, the origin of the well known Swithland slate and the headstone industry which grew up in the area around the village. Leicester University hosts a page with a lot of background detail on Swithland headstones with images and links to further reading. St Leonard's church in Swithland has a good collection of early Swithland slate headstones.

St Leonard's churchyard has Swithland headstones (and others) from a wide range of dates, from the very early to the very late. The church was open, the people friendly and I chatted to people from the church on both visits. On the second visit, having a cup of tea inside with a church warden, we heard a deep, loud and worryingly close explosion. It felt like the entire church was jolted. I certainly felt the thump through the floor. The church warden didn't register the bang but I must have looked alarmed. He explained that Mountsorrel quarry, just over a mile away, blasts granite at lunch time. It is only reasonable that the church is faced with the hard, pink granite from Mountsorrel.

To the south side of the church is the Farnham chapel, built, owned and still the private preserve of the Farnham family. I couldn't get access to the chapel, that is only possible with the permission of the trustees. This site has a few good photos of the inside of the chapel with its impressive collection of family monuments.

For some reason I failed to take a picture of the outside of the church on both visits.

This trio shows the Swithland headstone style where the quality and decoration of the lettering had developed somewhat, while the shape of the stones is still rectangular, having no figurative or decorative carving (173? to 1748).

However, as an illustration that decorated and non-decorated headstones were being produced by possibly the same hand at about the same date, consider this pair of stones. Dated two years apart, one a plain slab and the other carrying a well developed Belvoir angel. The shape of the letters is so similar I would expect the same craftsman cut both inscriptions. The angel may have been cut by someone else:

The last stone above is later than the others here. Dated 1775 and 1780 the top of the stone has a profile typical of those dates, but has no decoration or figurative carving. It does however have a beautiful italic inscription, MORS JANUA VITAE, (Death, the Door to Life), refering to the eternal life after death. The italic runs in a half circle, leaning to the right at the start and to the left at the end. Someone with a real talent for lettering designed that layout.

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