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24 September 2014
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Hallelujah

The first-ever performance of Handel's `Messiah' in an English church took place at Church Langton in Leicestershire.

G.F. Handel line
George Frederick Handel  

Before the performance, there were traffic jams all along the London Road from Market Harborough, and every inn in the area was fully booked!

Hanbury Centre
 
The Hanbury Centre

It was the idea of the Revd William Hanbury, rector of Church Langton at that time.

As well as his religious activities, the Revd Hanbury was a botanist. He imported trees and shrubs from abroad and grew them at nurseries near Church Langton.

He had many grand ideas, including that of turning the village into a major centre of learning with a vast minster church on a par with Oxford and Cambridge! The historic performance of Messiah was part of an ambitious music festival designed to raise funds for his project.

The project was never realised, but the money Hanbury raised was put to good use. Today, local children go to school in buildings put up with money from the Hanbury Trust, and local students can still apply for grant aid from the fund.

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