St. Paul's & Woodhouse Eaves History
The original church was built during the years 1836/37 but has undergone many changes since then. Designed by William Railton (who also designed Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square) it was formed in a rectangular shape with seating for 412 people, with a tower at the West end, through which one entered the church, a gallery over the pews at the West end of the main building and a small chancel at the East end.
The present, much enlarged, chancel was added in 1871, and this included the first of the stained glass windows, the large East window. The North and South transepts were added in 1880, thus giving St. Paul's its cruciform shape. At the same time the West gallery was removed and a vestry was built on the South side of the tower. Sir William Henry Salt donated the money for the South transept and he also gave the organ. (Sir William was the eldest son and heir of Sir Titus Salt, the founder of the model town of Saltaire in Yorkshire). In addition to the other work done, stained glass windows replaced four of the original plain glass windows. The church was reopened on October 3rd, 1880, following the completion of the restoration.
Gradually, over the ensuing years, more alterations and additions have been made, including an organ chamber, extra seating and the strengthening of the tower to house the six bells commemorating the life and reign of Queen Victoria. These bells were cast and installed in 1904 by John Taylor Bellfounders Ltd. of Loughborough - a firm which is still in existence today.
Heating and lighting have been updated and the two transepts have become two small chapels, one dedicated to St. George and the other to Our Lady.
The additions to the church reflect the changing needs of worshippers over the years, and one must always be grateful for the generosity of parishioners, past and present, who have donated so many items, including carpets, notice boards, prayer and hymn books, vestments, hangings, linen and kneelers. St. Paul's now has microphones and loud speakers, together with a deaf loop system to help the hard of hearing, again thanks to donations from parishioners. In 2006 further additions were undertaken in the shape of access for the disabled, toilet facilities and a place for refreshments. One half of the Lady Chapel has been partitioned off to form a new choir vestry as the old vestry in the tower was used to house the toilet facilities.
St. Paul's church is full of links with the past and with people and houses in and around the village as can be seen from the many plaques, memorial tablets and stained glass windows in the building. These links with the past, however, extend far beyond the boundaries of Woodhouse Eaves. One of the incumbents, the Rev.A.J.W. Hiley, who was Vicar here from 1898 until 1929, was the grandson of Dr. Thomas Arnold, the famous headmaster of Rugby School, immortalised in Tom Brown's Schooldays. Matthew Arnold, the poet, was the Rev. Hiley’s uncle.
Sir William Salt married Emma Harris in 1856 and her father was John Dove Harris, twice Mayor of Leicester and who later served as the Liberal Member of Parliament for the town. Sir William and Emma are buried in the churchyard, close to the South transept.
Each generation has made additions to St. Paul's which have reflected the needs, requirements and comfort of the people who have lived in the parish over the years, and in so doing have also added to our understanding of the changing needs and requirements of the Church.