HISTORY & FOUNDATION
After ownership by Launde Abbey, the Knights Templar (from 1231 to 1308) and the Knights Hospitaller (1313 – 1540), the parish passed into secular ownership following the suppression of the monasteries. The Templars and the Hospitallers owned Rothley Temple (Rothley Preceptory) and it was to the owners of Rothley that the parish of Grimston, and other local parishes, was passed.
The Babington family owned the estates from 1565 to 1845; Babingtons had been preceptors in the mid-16th century. Thomas Babington (1758-1837) was prominent in the abolition of slavery; he was a friend of William Wilberforce, and met with Wilberforce at Rothley while drafting the anti-slavery bill. Thomas Babington was later a Member of Parliament for Leicester and High Sheriff of Leicestershire.
Until recently patronage passed with the ownership of property and in 1865 the patronage passed from the Babington family to Francis Reckitt, of the starch and dye firm.
In due course the patronage of the church passed to the Wrights of Saxelbye. However, in recognition of the long-standing interest of the Rothley Preceptory, the incumbent of the benefice of Rothley remained a patron, and does so to this day. There are therefore two patrons, who play an important role in the life of the church through the right to present to the Bishop candidates for appointment to the living when a vacancy arises. After the introduction of the Patronage (Benefices) Measure in 1986 the Martyrs Memorial and Church of England Trust have also had the right of presentation to the benefice.