Walesby welcomes some very special guests

Village historian Peter Starling and present day owner of Walesby Hall Anouska Peckett each received a painting from the Laurence family collection.
Village historian Peter Starling and present day owner of Walesby Hall Anouska Peckett each received a painting from the Laurence family collection.

Walesby’s ‘second’ church - St Mary’s - celebrated the centenary of its foundation with some very special guests.

Descendents of the Rev Perceval Laurence, who instigated the building of St Mary’s, travelled from near and far to join in the occasion, including Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, husband of Princess Anne.

Members of the Laurence family gather outside St Mary's with current Rector, the Rev John Carr

Members of the Laurence family gather outside St Mary's with current Rector, the Rev John Carr

The great-grandson of Perceval, Sir Tim has always been aware of the Walesby connection, but had only visited the village once before. However, his father spent his school holidays at Walesby Hall, which served as the Rectory until the mid-1920s.

The day’s celebrations began with a short service in St Mary’s, where the current Rector, the Rev John Carr praised the foresight of his predecessor.

“How blest am I and how blest are we all to have this magnificent building to look after,” he said.

Within two years of taking on the Walesby living, Perceval Laurence had put up a temporary tin church at the base of the hill to All Saints’ Church at the top of the hill.

The village's most senior residents - Artie and Mary Hawbrook - cut the celebration cake with Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence

The village's most senior residents - Artie and Mary Hawbrook - cut the celebration cake with Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence

He was then on a mission to build a new church in the heart of the village. But sadly, Perceval never saw the finished building; he died on June 6 1913 the very day work began, but his legacy is there 100 years later for all to see.

“We have a picture of Perceval in front of the Rectory in our home, so it is amazing to come here to Walesby and connect with family for the first time,” said Rick Laurence, one of six to travel from the USA for the occasion.

The day was also used to officially launch the Walesby history book, written by local historian Peter Starling.

In launching the book, Sir Tim said: “The book has been beautifully written and gives a good history of the village and it is a great tribute to him.”

In appreciation, Sir Tim presented Peter with a painting of Walesby, featuring the old and new churches, which had been in the Laurence family for some time. A second painting was presented to Anouska Peckett, the current owner of Walesby Hall.

Copies of Peter’s book - Walesby, A Lincolnshire Village History - are available from Peter direct on 01673 838620, priced £15.