St Leonard’s – Hartley Mauditt
St Leonard’s Church is all that is left of a hamlet that once stood near the pond. The now peaceful area where the little norman Church stands beside the pond and cows graze in neighbouring fields once had a large manor house, probably situated behind the church. This area is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Listed Landscape.
The exact date of the building of the Church is not known but it was probably built by the de Mauditt family between 1100 and 1125. William de Mauditt [or de Maulduith] was granted the manor by William the Conqueror, as recorded in the Domesday Book, and the family held the manor for 200 years.
The little church is Norman and the horseshoe chancel arch is a fine and simple example of this period. There are two broad squat Norman windows remaining, one to the left of the pulpit and one to the left of the south door. Other features of interest include;
THE FONT is a beautiful example of 15th century rural craftsmanship. It was probably given when the Earls of Lancaster held the manor and the Lancastrian rose can be seen in the traceried panels. There is a horseshoe in one panel which is an unusual emblem for a font but gives it a nice rural touch.
THE PULPIT was carved in oak in the 18th century and it was moved to its present position during the Victorian restoration of the church. The bricked up entrance to the crypt is behind it. Several of the Stuart family are buried here.
THE LIST OF RECTORS with the Patrons of the Church dating from 1220 is unusually complete. Intriguingly it shows that the Rector was deprived of his living by Queen Mary [Bloody Mary] and it was not restored until Queen Elizabeth the First came to the throne.
MEMORIALS. There is a quaint tablet on the south wall of the Nave to Sir Nicholas Steward’s butler, Thomas Lightharness, who no doubt looked after his household and affairs. The Steward family later changed the spelling of their name to Stuart . On the left hand wall of the chancel there are brightly coloured memorials with the heraldic devices of members of the Stuart family. Opposite is the simple stone memorial to Sir Simeon Stuart the 7th Baronet, the last of the family to be buried here.
Services are still held in this peaceful little church during the summer months. Please check the Calendar for the dates and times of Services