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Imposing church built in 1653, with fine panelled interior

Staunton Harold Church rises above a lake whose tranquil waters reflect the beauty of north-west Leicestershire’s gently rolling hills. It is a picture of rural peace and contentment. But you need not look far to find a very different story from England’s most turbulent times.

Built in 1653 on the instructions of Sir Robert Shirley Fourth Baronet, this is a rare building of its time, an era known as the Commonwealth Period, when Oliver Cromwell was Lord Protector of England.

Building this chapel was Sir Robert’s way of standing up for ‘all thinges sacred’ as he saw it: the High Anglican Church and the God-given right of the monarch to rule.

Staunton Harold Church, or the Chapel of the Holy Trinity as it is also known, is a fine example of Gothic style, which continued into the middle of the seventeenth century. The oak box pews and wood panelling are made from local oak by the Melbourne joiner William Smith. William also created the pulpit, the Jacobean-style panelling in the chancel and the original chancel screen which now stands beneath the organ loft.