St Peter's church, c.1860.
St Peter's church, c.1860.

The tower has angle buttresses in five stages, and from the floor line of the nave rises 75ft. to the top of the embattled parapet. 75ft. is also the height of the weathercock from the leads round the top of the tower. The tower is about 22ft. 3in. square at the top, the south side being 9½in. wider than the north side. The walls are about 3½ft. thick at the ringing chamber level, and stones as large as 3ft. 8in. long and 12½in. high were used in their construction. The varying sizes of the buttress projections at the same stage level, and the varying angles between them and the faces of the tower are interesting as is also the entasis. The four pinnacles crowning the four angles of the tower evidently became badly decayed a long time ago and were restored, but these in turn became dangerous, and the remains were taken down and placed in the churchyard. The pinnacles that have now been placed in position follow the lines of the old ones and are 71/3ft. in height. A newel staircase in the south-west angle, 4¾ft. diameter with 6in. newel, leads to the top of the tower and the ends of some of the steps form part of the ashlar facing of the tower, the stonework being only 7in. thick at these points. The stone roof over the staircase head blocks up the way round the leads inside the parapet. One bell, the sermon bell, hangs in an opening in the base of the spire, about 4fft. above the leads on the east side, while in the belfry hangs a peal of eight bells, the tenor weighing 21½cwts.; these were all re-cast in 1771 and bear the following inscriptions:—

No. 1. I was given by the Society of Northern Youths in 1672, and re-cast by the Sherwood Youths in 1771.
No. 2. ditto ditto
No. 3. G. Mears of London, 1858.
No. 4. We celebrate the auspicious morn on which the son of God was born.
No. 5. To honour both God and King
Our voices shall in concert ring.
No. 6. The Bride and Groom we great, In Holy wedlock joined, Our sounds be emblems sweet, Of hearts in Love combined.
No. 7. I was given by Margery Doubleday, about the year 1544, and re-cast with the other bells in 1771.
No. 8. (Tenor) The fleeting hours I tell, I summon all to pray, I tell the funeral knell, I hail the festal day.

Pack & Chapman of London fecit, Saml. Martin, Rector. Jas. Alleyne and Frans. Jones, Churchwardens, 1771. "Pack & Chapman of London fecit" is on all the bells but Nos. 1, 2, & 3.

The inscriptions on the bells, according to Deering were as follows:—

1. In Perpetuam Memoriam Societatis Juvenum Borealium 1672.
2. ditto  ditto
3. God save the King. 1666.
4. God save His Church. 1635.
5. God save His Church, T. Hunt, J. Wilson, Wardens. 1685.
6. Jesus be our Speda.
7. Ave Maria of your charite for to pray for the soul of Magere dubbyseay.
8. Robert Sherwin, John Cawton, William Freeman, Willam Wellah, Aldermen.

In a letter to Mr. Evans, Mr. George Freeth recites a quotation from a document which he saw in 1877 of the date of Edward VI. (1547-1553), wherein is detailed that "five bells of one accord and a saunce (saints) bell and a clocke were handed over by the King's Commissioners to Nycholos Cooke, parson of the Parish Church of St. Peter's and the wardens, to be safely kept unspoylled, enembesilled and unsold until the Kings Majesties pleasure be further knowen thereyn."

For some years the clock has been regulated and kept in repair by the corporation for the benefit of the public generally. The four dials of cast iron are each 7ft. in diameter with well designed Roman figures. The canopy of the niche on the west face under the clock is not original, but a restoration; there is no record of a figure at any time occupying the niche. The large west window was found to have a false sill of cement between the mullions, no doubt placed there because of the bad state of repair of the original sill, which had gradually worn away and was only 3in. in depth. This false sill has been removed and a new sill inserted. The two lower niches on either side of the door head are also tenantless; the back of the easternmost is a mere shell fin. thick and splayed, to prevent it breaking through into the staircase.

In the tower there is a well-constructed groined ceiling. Over the opening in the centre is a covering on which is depicted the emblems of St. Peter, viz., the cross keys and the head of a pastoral staff.

The base mouldings of the tower had been made out, where perished, in a very hard brown Roman cement, which looked most unsightly, and has been removed, the mouldings being renewed where necessary with new stone. The south face of the tower was more badly weathered than the other faces, and the buttress weatherings had in some instances almost entirely disappeared. For some time the stonework will have a patchy appearance, but eventually the new stone will tone down to the colour of the old. Missing weatherings lead to a much more rapid decay of the stonework immediately under them. During this restoration, it has been difficult to decide how much of the old work, where defective, should be left, in order that on the one hand the work when finished should be sound and lasting, and on the other hand that the money subscribed should be spent on only absolutely necessary work, as so much remains to be done with the funds so far available.

The exteriors of both the north and south aisles shew considerable signs of vandalism, very little of the original work surviving.

It is hoped to restore the windows and external facings of the west ends of these aisles as soon as possible. If examined, the stonework of the present west windows shows that originally the arches were much more pointed. The north porch is quite a recent alteration and was given by Mr. Wm. Martin in 1889, who was churchwarden for many years.

The interior of the aisles reveals on the surface very little of their original interest, but reference to the various histories, guild book, Stretton manuscript, etc., helps us to find out something of their former use.

All the local histories agree as to chapels in both aisles, viz, that of Saint George in the north aisle, and Saint Mary in the south aisle. In the borough records reference is made in 1315 to a grant "by the service of keeping a lamp burning in the chapel of the Holy Cross before the altar of St. Lawrence in the Church of St. Peter's, Nottingham." There is also a reference to a "Chapel of All Saintes."

The re-building of the outer walls of the two aisles took place at the beginning of the 19th century, and there is a record as to funds being raised for the organ in 1812, when it was built by Lincoln of London. The organ case is well worth study as a good specimen of Jacobean work, which has stood the wear and tear of over a hundred years, and has been moved from various places in the sacred edifice. In 1880 it was in the centre of the tower arch, where the choir in an elevated position dominated the services.

An inlaid wood tablet was taken out of the panelling in the tower gallery dated 1757, and removed in 1880, when the organ was placed in its present position.

It is proposed during the present restoration to remove the unsightly curtains from the east archway in the north aisle and fill in the opening with a suitable oak screen. On

the north side of the most easterly respond of the north arcade, an old tombstone had been fixed at sometime, possibly with the idea of strengthening the pier. According to the various histories and Stretton MSS. in which latter there is a plan shewing the arrangement of St. George's Chapel, oratory, and entrance to the Smith family vault, it was apparent that there was originally a piscina. The result of removing the tombstone and making good to the pier revealed a trefoiled head which evidently had been part of a piscina. Unfortunately no other remnants of interest were found; this has been re-fixed in the position in which it was found.

During the restoration of 1880 and the following years, it was necessary, owing to preparing for the foundations of the organ chamber, to investigate the vault of the Smith family under the north aisle. This was found in excellent condition and was, after consultation with some of the relatives, eventually sealed up.

According to Deering's History, this vault was made in the year 1739, by Mr. Abel Smith, banker, and in course of excavation for foundations an arch was found in the north wall below the floor level. A stone trough was found in this arch with the remains of a body (seen by Deering himself) and a red glazed tile with cross keys upon it.

It is clear from several records collected by the late Mr. George Freeth, the original senior partner of a leading firm of solicitors in this town and contained in letters to the late Mr. Robert Evans, that Cardinal Manning married a member of the Smith family, and his daughter was buried in this vault.

On the east wall of the north aisle are very indistinct remains of mediaeval lettering, not sufficient to obtain any information from. Mention must also be made of early colouring on the second arch from the west of the north arcade—in green and red colours of a zigzag pattern.

It is impossible in a paper of this nature to refer in length to the various interments in the church and graveyard, but a few deserve especial notice.

John de Plumtre, founder of the hospital on the bridge end, and Henry his brother, in 1408, in his will, ordered that his body should be buried in the "chappel of All Saintes in St. Peter's Church."

Alderman Thos. Trigge, 1705, who left £50 for a bread charity.

Wm. Ayscough, printer, 1719, who introduced printing into this town, 1710.

The epitaph of Vin Eyre, (Sept. 1727), the politician, is too well known to repeat, also that of John Grieves (1718).

The present chancel is, as will be seen, a modern restoration. The chancel of the old church was destroyed during the civil wars, at the time when Colonel Hutchinson was governor of Nottingham Castle. Another chancel was built soon after, the north and south walls projecting inwards and partly covering the piers of the great arch, and the ceiling coming nearly as low down as the pier caps; and when this building was removed the foundations of the original chancel were discovered and the present walls erected thereon.

Having considered the fabric as it now stands and having attempted to define from its appearance something of its history, we must for a few moments look at the written records we possess. Although they do not go back very far, they are of great interest and the guild book dated 1440 is certainly the oldest church document in the city.


"An Ancient Church Booke for the parrish of Saint Peeters in Nottingham made in the dayes of King Henry the 6th, John Hunt beeing then Alderman Anno Domini 1440."

Mr. Geo. Freeth translated some portions of this book in 1876, which shewed that it was in the main a statement of accounts of the guild, and eventually, probably in the reign of Henry VIII., resolved itself into a minute book of the annual parish meeting.

Various items of interest are recorded as follows:—

4/- paid to Henry Hobbs for the Harness of St. George (which clearly denotes a figure).
13½ paid for bread and ringing the bell at the Anniversary of the Brothers and Sisters.
20/- paid to Richard Mellors, Bell Founder and Mayor of Nottingham for 2nd Bell.
7/6 paid to John Sellock, Bell Pounder for making 1st Bell.

The registers are the oldest in the town and are as follows:—

Christenings—"Baptizings and Birthdays" from 1572 to 1661. Weddings 1572 to 1663. Burials 1570 to 1663.


1645. A childe of Lieut. Col. Hutchinson, Buried the 22nd December — the birth of this child is mentioned by Mrs. Hutchinson, as born in 1642 in Leicestershire.
1645. Mr. Roberts, a Cavalier Minister, was buried the 6th February.
1646. Thomas, a soldier of Sir Thos. Fairfax, was buried the 17th February.
1651. Jane, the daughter of Thos. Poulton, Gent, sometime Governor of the Castle, was buried 27th December.

There are many entries of soldiers' burials, parliamentary and royalist.


The list of these commences with the name of John de Nottingham 1241 and continues up to the present time without any break. There are several names of interest, such as Willoughby, Stapleton, Adam de Kyrkby—Willielmus de Whatton, Henricus de Keyworth, Willielmus Ilkeston 1499,

The history of the parish generally would require a long paper.

The  writer  has received a  long  letter from Mr. Wm. Stevenson, giving interesting  details  of boundaries  which will be of great use at some future date.

It is impossible in a paper of this nature to do justice to such an interesting subject as the Church and Parish of St. Peter's, Nottingham, but the writer hopes at some future date to publish further details of interest.