The round is inspired by the medieval pilgrimages made to St Morrell’s Chapel on the hillside near Hallaton. Morrel who died in AD453 was Bishop of Angers in NW France. He went into self-imposed exile overseas before returning to be beatified for performing the miracle of Renatus which is shown on a mural in Anger cathedral. Some eight hundred years later a Norman overlord built a chapel in Hallaton and dedicated it to St Morrell. This is the only church in Britain mentioning Morrell and so it might have been believed that Morrell’s exile was in Hallaton. We know that pilgrimages were made for at least the next three hundred years. The chapel was rediscovered in 2014 at the top of the “Bottle Kicking” field by the Hallaton Fieldwork Group working with ULAS following research by John Morison and work is ongoing to restore the crypt of St Michael’s Church Hallaton to re-inter the remains found in the Chapel.
The round visits places where contemporary travellers can see evidence of the medieval history of the area including five beautiful churches built from the local ironstone, all of which were open when the medieval pilgrims were passing. The route leaves Hallaton on a medieval road passing its Motte and Bailey Castle which was also built by the Norman overlords. The far point of the route is Launde Abbey originally built in 1099 as an Augustine Priory and later taken by Thomas Cromwell. As the route crosses the ridges of high Leicestershire it passes fragments of the ancient Leighfield Forest including the Launde Big Wood which is conserved and shows exactly the kind of woodland that pilgrims walked through on their way to Hallaton.