St. Denys' Church
The beautiful parish church at the west end of the village is Grade I listed and is one of only 46 churches in the country dedicated to St. Denys (or Denis), first Bishop of Paris and patron saint of France. Little is known of his life, but a legend dating from around the 9th Century recounts that the saint was beheaded in Montmartre in 258 and his decapitated corpse carried his head to the area north east of Paris where the Benedictine Abbey of St. Denis was founded. Saint Denis is often portrayed in art as a decapitated (though evidently living) figure carrying his own mitred head.
There has been a church on the site in Goadby since at least the early 12th Century and some parts of the original building still survive today. With the exception of these few areas of Norman masonry, the oldest part of the church is the north aisle which contains three lancet windows and dates from the 13th Century, when the Quatremars family held the title of Lord of the Manor.
Sir Adam Quartremars, the last member of the family to hold the title, died in about 1235, and the estate passed to his brother-in-law (some sources state son-in-law), Sir Geoffrey Maureward. It was at this time that the suffix Maureward (later corrupted to Marwood) replaced Quatremars in the village name.
The Maurewards held the Manor of Goadby until the early 15th Century and made significant alterations to the church during their tenure, including the erection of the tower, the rebuilding of the nave and the south aisle, and the addition of a chapel in the north aisle. It was also during this period that the magnificent traceried windows were added. The Maureward arms can still be seen today in the repositioned stained-glass window.
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The final stage of the medieval building, the addition of a clerestory and a new roof to the nave, was completed in the second quarter of the 15th Century during the tenure of the Beaumont family.
The church underwent a series of minor alterations during the 18th Century when repairs were made to the tower and porch. In the early 1880s funds were raised by local parishioners for a significant programme of renovation which took place over a period of 18 months and included the addition of a vestry and organ chamber. The reopening of the church was reported in the Grantham Journal:
Sept 29th 1883 Goadby Marwood. Reopening of Church after Renovation.
During the last century the patronage fell to the Manners family who sold it to Geo. Bellairs Esq. whose nephew Rev. C. Bellairs is present Rector.
Restoration commenced March last (1882) and has now been completed for a little over £800. £750 has been obtained vis Duke of Rutland £100, Rev. C. Bellairs £100, Rev. H. Twells £75.
The old fashioned pews have been replaced by Pitch pine open seats slightly raised from the level of the floor.
New Flooring – the Nave of grey stone from the Robin Hood quarries, the Chancel encaustic tiles from Coalville. Two arches have supplanted the old wall on the north side of the Chancel and a new aisle built to serve as vestry and organ chamber the cost of which was borne chiefly by the Rev. H. Twells, Waltham.
The founders tomb is restored. A coffin with his remains was found inside the church a month ago.
The Pulpit and reading desks are entirely new of plain oak, supplied by Mr. Brutnell of Goadby Marwood.
The building work was by Mr. Chester of Waltham.
This Victorian renovation, whilst no doubt improving the comfort of the congregation, unfortunately resulted in many ancient memorials being lost or covered over, including the likely resting place of Sir Thomas, last of the Goadby Maurewards, who died in 1424.
Today, local residents and the congregations of the Ironstone Benefice of Churches continue to maintain the fabric of the building, with fundraising an ongoing exercise. By 2018, after many years of fundraising efforts, sufficient funds had been amassed to repair and reinforce the roof. The work was carried out in October of that year. Just four months later, on February 24th, 2019, thieves struck at night stripping the lead from the entire roof.
Following this devastating theft, villagers have redoubled their fundraising efforts with work on the new roof commencing in February 2020. Leicester Diocese has given approval for the roof to be covered with stainless steel rather than lead, at a much lower estimated cost of £65,000, however, there is still a long way to go before restoration work on the roof can be fully completed.
In the late 1990s, Leicestershire historian and writer, Raymond Taylor, carried out extensive research into the history and architecture of St. Denys’ Church and published his findings in a 50-page booklet, St. Denys Church Goadby Marwood, A History and Guide.
Copies can be purchased at a cost of £3 each plus p&p. Contact Us
Newspaper cutting - St. Denys' Church c. mid-20th Century