As you will have seen from the previous pages about the Magna Carta the fortress of Belvoir Castle was committed to the custody of Geoffrey and Oliver de Buteville in 1216. Not much is known about the period immediately following this and in fact we’re not sure how significant was the impact that Geoffrey & Oliver had on the castle. However some interesting information has come to light that leads in a new direction of research.
Bottesford is between Grantham & Leicester. The Domesday book recorded the presence of a Saxon church and the site of a water mill in the area. At this time the land was owned by Gocelin, son of Lanbert, and the King had lands there. It is said that the church began with the coming of a monk from Selby Abbey. The church at that time was probably of wooden construction.
At the time of the Norman conquest, certain properties, including the church and a mill were given by King William to Gocelin Fitzlambert. Templar lands eventually became owned by the King and were sold in 1545, following which the manor had many owners. Records show rectors and vicars from 1218, which indicated a Norman church. The present church is early 13th century. It is built from local limestone. It is about the same age as Lincoln Cathedral and some of the cathedral craftsmen are thought to have worked on it.
The Chancel of the church at Bottesford is the only area not updated from it's original furbishings. This is the main church located next to Belvoir Castle. As Hugh Jones mentions, “Castles may change but people generally leave churches alone, neither do they burn them out.”
The current church was built at the time that Geoffrey and Oliver where Governors at Belvoir. The Earl of Arundel and his family were financially destitute from the time of King Johns until Edward 1st due to the fining of William Albini. Therefore its likely that the construction of this Church was beyond the finances of the Earl and not within his economic imperatives. The implication being that Geoffrey & Oliver had something to do with the financing of this. The Duke of Rutland’s family has over the years has spent money updating internal furbishings, this would indicate to us a relationship and an importance of this church to Belvoir.
This is speculation of course, but is another line of enquiry that may produce some interesting information in due course.