Egleton, St Edmund
A focal point in the Egleton Conservation Area, St Edmund’s is a Grade I listed building standing in the centre of a churchyard with C18th gravestones.
The tower and spire with its gilded weather cock rise above the trees as a prominent landmark.
Entry to the church is through a C14th porch with an ogee arch with carved heads. The C12th tympanum above the inner door is particularly fine and has intricately carved pillars supporting it.
The chancel was probably rebuilt in the C15th although the carved pillars of the chancel arch are C12th as is the font near the south door.
The rood screen itself survives although restored with reduced height and repositioned at the west end in front of the tower door.
Bats have used St Edmund's as a roosting site for many years, but numbers have risen in the last 8-9 years and there is now a very large (>1,000) soprano pipistrelle maternity colony roosting in the nave roof void. The colony is the largest monitored for the National Bat Monitoring Programme in England.
Holes and gaps in the nave ceiling meant the bats were able to get inside the church. During the summer the smell was overpowering, with droppings and urine scattered throughout the church. Some bats were unable to find their way out and sadly died inside the church.
Surveys carried out in 2021 identified the access points and recommended repairing holes in the nave ceiling where the bats were getting in. The church was given permission by Natural England to carry out this work in autumn 2022, supervised by a Volunteer Bat Roost Visitor from the local bat group.
Monitoring in early summer 2023 revealed an increase in bat numbers and no bats inside the church. However, in July 2023 bats were again seen flying inside the church. A one-off survey identified two new access points and these were blocked with Natural England permission in autumn 2023, once the maternity roost had dispersed.
The bat colony is monitored for the National Bat Monitoring Programme each year by the Leicestershire & Rutland Bat Group.
The church held dawn and dusk bat watching events in August 2021, and a community bat count in July 2023.
A bat rescue box is kept inside the church to save any bats that might need help.