St Mary the Virgin Church, Ayston, Rutland

Address:
Church of St Mary the Virgin, Ayston, Rutland, LE15 9AE
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The church is opened daily by a local keyholder
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Where the bells hail England's original patron saint King Edmund

The Church of St Mary the Virgin is set within the ancient hamlet of Ayston, and dates from the twelfth century, though much of the surviving fabric is from the thirteenth century.

Some fragments of early fifteenth-century stained glass can be found in the windows of the south aisle depicting the remains of a crucifixion scene, a crowned Virgin and Child and two bishops' heads. In the north aisle is a medieval monument, which is now very worn, of a Knight and his Lady lying on pillows resting in the serene atmosphere of the church.

The church has four bells the oldest of which are inscribed ‘Ambrose'; and the other ‘Ave Rex Gentis Anglorum', which loosely translated means ‘Hail King of the English people', a reference to St Edmund, King of East Anglia, who was killed by the Danes for refusing to give up his Christian faith circa 869. Legend has it that when the king's supporters went to find his body his head was missing, though it was soon found as the wolf protecting it called out in a human voice ‘here, here'. St. Edmund was the patron saint of England until Edward III (1312-1377) replaced Edmund by associating Saint George with the Order of the Garter.

The south aisle and tower were added in the fourteenth century, and the chancel and south porch in fifteenth century. The box pews date from around 1800.

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