What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
THE HOME OF JOHN WYCLIFF
=How to get there.=–Train from Marylebone. Great Central Railway. =Nearest Station.=–Lutterworth. =Distance from London.=–90 miles. =Average Time.=–Varies between 2-1/4 to 3 hours.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 12s. 4d. ... 7s. 0d. Return 24s. 0d. ... 14s. 0d.
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–"Hind Hotel,” “Denbigh Arms," “Fox,” etc.
Situated in typical English midland scenery, the quiet little country town of Lutterworth rises from the surrounding undulating pasture-land. Here, in the beginning of the fourteenth century, when it was probably merely a fair-sized village, John Wycliff, the “Morning Star of the Reformation,” and founder of the Lollards, was born. The main street slopes down the hill, beyond the houses, till it reaches the river side, where it is carried over the little river Swift on a small bridge.
A good proportion of the church, which is so closely associated with Wycliff, dates from the fourteenth century. It is a large building, with a tower and belfry stage, and four crocketed pinnacles. The tower was formerly surmounted by a wooden belfry, but this was destroyed by the great gale of 1703. The nave is lighted by a clerestory, and the aisles are divided by high arches. The church is built in Early Perpendicular style, but there is a good decorated window at the eastern end of the south aisle, where there used to be a Lady Chapel. The lower portions of the walls date from before the time of Wycliff. At the eastern end of the chancel are an aumbry and piscina. About thirty years ago the church was restored by Sir Gilbert Scott, when much new stone was inserted.
There are three interesting frescoes in the interior: one is believed to represent Queen Philippa asking Edward III. to give the living of Lutterworth to Wycliff. The roof of the nave is formed of fine woodwork of the Perpendicular period, but the pulpit, a splendid piece of fourteenth-century oak carving, claims the chief interest, being the same from which the great reformer preached. The base has been renewed, and the rest has been much repaired, but the same pulpit has been in use for more than 500 years. A fragment of Wycliff’s cope or chasuble is preserved in a glass case in the vestry, but some doubt attaches to the origin of “Wycliff’s chair,” which seems of considerably later date.
[Illustration: WYCLIFF’S PULPIT IN LUTTERWORTH CHURCH.
It is a fine piece of fourteenth-century oak carving.]