The Building

The church, and the land upon which it stands, was given by Joseph Harris. The church architect was Ewan Christian. It is of red brick with a tall south east tower topped by a plain square pyramidal spire covered, as are the steeply pitched roofs, with attractive green Westmorland slates. As originally planned the church was to have a north and south aisle, but the north aisle was never constructed, and the north side still has “temporary” timber-framed windows.

There is a keeled bordered timber roof with a dormer window. An imposing apse to the chancel has five lancet windows with somewhat nondescript stained glass, beneath which were placed, after the First World War, four Sicilian marble tablets inscribed with the Creed, the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer and a painted frieze with the words “Be Thou Faithful Unto Death and I will give thee a Crown of Life”.

The Baptistery at the west end is also in the form of an apse, now with five small stained glass windows portraying the Scout and Guide movements in honour of those members who served in the Second World War. Of the six windows on the south side, five contain mid 20th century stained glass and depict, William Tyndale, Elizabeth Fry, David Livingstone, St. George and William Wilberforce (the latter two were designed by Donald B Taunton NRD MGP, and made by John Hardman Studios, Birmingham).

Trollope records as an addendum to his Inventory of the Church Plate of Leicestershire, which was published in 1890, that the Church of The Martyrs was consecrated on 17th July 1890 (in fact the 10th July) and that the Communion Plate which comprises two silver cups, two silver patens and a silver flagon were the gift of Mr William Harris of Sykefield, Leicester, the brother of the founder. All five pieces are inscribed “'This Do in Remembrance of Me' Luke XXII 19, 1 Cor. Romans XI 211, 25” and “Church of The Martyrs, Leicester, Consecrated 1890”.

After the First World War the reredos and the oak panelling round the apse was placed in the church as a memorial to those members of the congregation who had died in the war. Their names are engraved on brass tablets adjoining the oak panelling.

The subject of the reredos is sacrifice. The kneeling figure of the knight represents the men who died, that of the kneeling woman, the mothers, wives, sisters and girlfriends who lost loved ones, and the child represents the little ones who lost fathers or brothers. The central figure of course is that of the Saviour holding the cup of sacrifice in his hands. He is seated upon the rock from which the “living waters” flow. The words “This Do in Remembrance of Me” give us the motive for all true sacrifice, and the text above promises the reward for a life of sacrifice for Christ’s sake. The small shields represent the symbols of the Passion. The cost of the reredos was about £500 and was subscribed by members of the congregation and friends in the Parish.

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