ASHBY-DE-LA-ZOUCH, fourteen miles northwest of Leicester, takes its fanciful name from two sources – the town’s first Norman overlord was Alain de Parrhoet la Souche and the rest means “place by the ash trees”. Nowadays, Ashby is far from rustic, but it’s still an amiable little place with one main attraction, its castle.
Just a few miles away, Breedon-on-the-Hill is well worth a trip for its good walking and great views, and some fascinating Anglo-Saxon carvings at the Church of St Mary and St Hardulph.Read More
It’s five miles northeast from Ashby to the village of BREEDON-ON-THE-HILL, which sits in the shadow of the large, partly quarried hill from which it takes its name. A steep footpath and a winding, half-mile by-road lead up from the village to the summit, from where there are smashing views over the surrounding countryside.
Church of St Mary and St Hardulph
Breedon is also the site of the fascinating church of St Mary and St Hardulph, which occupies the site of an Iron Age hill fort and an eighth-century Anglo-Saxon monastery. Mostly dating from the thirteenth century, the church is kitted out with a Georgian pulpit and pews as well as a large and distinctly rickety box pew. Much more rare are a number of Anglo-Saxon carvings that include individual saints and prophets and wall friezes, where a dense foliage of vines is inhabited by a tangle of animals and humans. The friezes are quite extraordinary, and the fact that the figures look Byzantine rather than Anglo-Saxon has fuelled much academic debate.