Hoby, All Saints
Hoby is a compact attractive linear village situated on a ridge affording splendid views over the Wreake valley. The village church of All Saints occupies an elevated position within the village and has a churchyard enclosed by a stone boundary wall, filled with gravestones, many from the local slate. The church yard is managed for wild flowers.
All Saints church is listed Grade I, the highest listing grade. Both the church and its churchyard are important elements in the Hoby Conservation Area. This ironstone church is largely medieval, with many elements typical of the years either side of 1300, including the window tracery and the columns of the nave arcades with their subtly varied forms. The tower has a C13th base, with the spire probably added in the C14th. The C13th font sits on a C16th tombstone. All Saints was restored in the 1860s by Ewan Christian, who largely rebuilt the chancel and stripped the plaster from the internal walls.
The church contains furnishings of high value which enhance the significance of the building. These include a collection of C15th timber benches with poppyhead ends in the nave. The Perpendicular-style rood screen forms part of a complete early C20th decorative scheme in the chancel commemorating the Beresford family, who were both rectors and patrons of the church for nearly a century.
All Saints is home to very long-established maternity colonies of several bat species, including common pipistrelles and Daubenton’s bats. During the summer months in particular droppings are scattered throughout the church and there is urine staining on organ pipes, memorials, brasses, woodwork and stonework. The church volunteers find the extra cleaning up after the bats particularly onerous.
Bats in Churches Class Licence surveys carried out in 2019 by a registered ecologist proved inconclusive, and so further surveys were being carried out in 2021 to identify options to reduce the smell, mess and nuisance inside the church without causing harm to the bat populations. The Bats in Churches project has provided support for cleaning, to reduce the burden on the volunteers during the summer months, until more sustainable and long-lasting solutions can be found.
The church ran a successful family bat event in July 2021 in conjunction with the Leicestershire and Rutland Bat Group and bat ecologist Dr Jon Russ. Further community events around the bats and wildlife in the churchyard are planned.
The church took part in the National Bat Monitoring Programme roost count in June 2022.