When we first began researching the history of the village, we were told by the then curator of Rutland County Museum that Langham was a poor village with no history. Having proved him to be very wrong on both counts we take pleasure in reminding him of his comments whenever the opportunity arises. The vast amount of information now in our archive became very apparent when we were asked to provide a ‘brief history’ of the village as part of the Langham Neighbourhood Plan. Our original draft, which by no means told the whole story, had to be severely summarised.
On 7th September, twelve members of the History Group visited Westminster Abbey. After lunch in the Abbey restaurant we were shown around the library, which holds a great deal of historical information relating to Langham and Oakham in its archive. Following a tour of the Abbey itself, which included, the Shrine of Edward the Confessor, we had tea in the Deanery where the Dean, Dr John Hall, told us about his predecessors, whose portraits adorn the walls of the drawing room and long gallery. The Dean then accompanied us to the tomb of Simon de Langham in St Benedict’s chapel for a short act of commemoration and where we were able to lay flowers in honour of Simon’s birth in our village around 700 years ago. We ended our day by attending Evensong and, as guests of the Dean, were privileged to be seated in the “quire”.
Brenda Tew, a former Langham resident, whose husband David was churchwarden here, spent many years researching the life of Simon de Langham. He left his native village to become Monk, Prior and Abbot of Westminster Abbey before rising to further prominence as Bishop of Ely and Chancellor of all England, Archbishop of Canterbury and finally a Cardinal at Avignon. He died in 1376 and though originally buried in Avignon his body was returned to Westminster in 1379. Westminster Abbey was the chief beneficiary of Simon’s Will but he also remembered the village of his birth by leaving vestments and altar hangings to Langham church.
There are now six tribute cards to the fallen of World War I on display in the church. A card is added on the centenary of each man’s death and by 1919 twenty-seven cards will be displayed. Building on the theme of our entry in last year’s Christmas Tree Festival, we shall be providing a display at Rutland County Museum next year on the Home Front. [in reserve]