St. Mary's Church, Freeby, Leicestershire

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St. Mary's Church, Freeby
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A Medieval church in a Danelaw village

Freeby village, though very small, has a long and ancient history reaching back to the ninth-century Danelaw, when Danish Vikings invaded a large swathe of Eastern England. This portion of the country ruled by the Danes became known as the Danelaw. Many of those Vikings who came and settled left their mark on the landscape in form of place names. Freeby is derived from the Fraethi’s Farm the ‘by’ element means farm or settlement in Old Norse.

The present church of St Mary sits in this rural farming landscape on a rise in the village. It is constructed from ironstone and limestone. Much of the building dates from the fourteenth and fifteenth century and is in the Early English Style. The tower is early fourteenth century and the clerestory along with the raising of the chancel dates to the 15th century, though the aisles were rebuilt during a phase of restoration in 1893. However, the font is thirteenth century indicating the earlier foundation of the church. 

A former Freeby inhabitant of note was Isaac Watts (1674 -1748)  the writer of many well know hymns such as “O God our help in ages past” and “When I survey the Wondrous Cross”. He lived in the village as chaplain to the Lord of the Manor and tutored his children.

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