Our District Churches No.17 – St Helen’s, Gumley

St Helen’s Church, Gumley

In the Domesday census of 1086, Gumley’s recorded population was 20. By 1821, this had risen to 289 before a gradual fall to 209 as shown in the 2011 census. The village is mentioned even earlier in year 749, when King Aethelbald of Mercia held a synod at Gumley under the instigation of Pope Boniface. Gumley must have been held in some importance as King Offa also visited Gumley in 772 and 779.

The village was originally sited around the church, on the hilltop, but now stands in isolation from the main street. The building of Gumley Hall (built 1764) probably resulted in some of the buildings around the church at that time being demolished.

A Pretty Little Church

The pretty little church of St Helen’s is sited on the side of a hill and consists of a west tower and spire, nave, chancel, south aisle, and porch. Like Foxton nearby, it was given to Daventry Priory by Robert, son of Vitalis. After 1266 this passed to the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln. The building is largely of the 14th century, although there would have been an earlier structure on the site. The south aisle is very narrow whilst the arcade of three bays leads through to the small nave.

The tower dates from the late-14th century and has a broached spire and crocketed heads. The north wall and windows date from the 16th century when some rebuilding took place. Until the 19th century there was also a north porch. The church underwent restoration work in the 19th century, the clerestory windows in their circular form date from this period. Also, the roof was redone and the chancel rebuilt in the restoration. Most if not all of the furniture is Victorian. There are a couple of nice wall plaques and monuments, and the font dates to the 19th century. The church is a good example of the Decorated style of architecture.

Stained glass window at St Helen's Church. Gumley, Leicestershire