An historic pilgrimage site is being revived as the Bishop of Leicester launches a new pilgrim route in rural Leicestershire.
Under the exact spot where the famous Hallaton Easter Monday Bottle Kicking event starts in rural East Leicestershire, a medieval Chapel remained hidden until it was excavated by local archaeologists working with the University of Leicester Archaeological Services in 2011.
This Chapel was built circa 1250 by Stephen Martival who was a Norman Lord, and became the destination of a huge number of pilgrims for about some three hundred years…until pilgrimage was outlawed by Henry VIII during the reformation.
Martival came from Angers, the capital city of Anjou, France and he dedicated the Chapel to his patron Saint, Morrell, who had been ordained as Bishop of Angers in AD423.
Next year sees the 1600th anniversary of that event. Residents of Hallaton have a number of activities on offer to tell and share the story of St Morrell, pilgrimage to Hallaton, and how it transformed a village into one of the busiest and most important towns in Leicestershire.
These include a 6m long St Morrell’s tapestry, a project to restore the church’s crypt and re-inter the skeletons of pilgrims found during the chapel excavation, and the new St Morrell’s Round - a circular pilgrimage walk of 28km (18miles) through High Leicestershire.
On Sunday 11 September Bishop Martyn will visit St Michaels and All Angels Church, Hallaton, to take a service for parishioners of the six Churches that the walk visits: Tugby, Loddington, Launde, Belton-in-Rutland, Allexton and Hallaton.
The service will include an insight into the pilgrimage, leading the congregation up Hare Pie bank to the site of the Chapel. Here, open air prayers will be said for past, present and future pilgrims. Upon returning to church, the Bishop will inaugurate the pilgrimage walk and declare it open to pilgrims to walk in 2023 and beyond.