Quaint carving on a capital.
But it is with the ancient church of St. Wilfrid that we are more concerned, and as newspapers columns are not elastic, however much we might care to dwell upon these new buildings, and the self-sacrificing efforts which have been made on their behalf, we must pass on to the subject more particularly before us. The associations which cling to the church are far more interesting than the building itself, for little of the old edifice remains. The oldest part of the fabric was the north nave arcade, built in the reign of Henry II., but this was not of the first church at Kirkby, for a fragment of still earlier Norman carving is built in the north wall inside the tower. The north arcade belongs to the Transitional period when architectural ideas were slowly making towards the Early English style with its rich moldings. There were four semi-circular arches with roll molding freely used upon them; the columns were circular, and the capitals ornamented with scallops, foliage, and volutes. The cap to the eastern column was peculiar. It was distinctly divided into two parts, the west half ornamented with volutes, and the east having a figure and conventional foliage, taking more after the Early English type as shown in the illustration. This latter half must have been worked at a considerably later date than the former, and suggests the theory that the church may have been lengthened since its original Norman state. The bases of the columns had a shallow mold with no hollow at all. Possibly the Norman church possessed only this north aisle, and the increased accommodation of a south aisle came in the Early English times about the reign of Richard I. To this period belonged the south door and south nave arcade. The door had a pointed head with an arch of a simple character, the chief feature being a large roll mold. There were two columns, the caps of which had been recarved, and the bases were of the usual Early English type. The hood mold was plainly chamfered, and stopped by two sprigs of foliage. The south arcade had four pointed arches, the one to the east being much narrower than the other three. The arches had plain chamfers upon them, and the hood molds were likewise chamfers stopped by carved heads of the type usually found in this district. The columns were octagonal, two being in their original state, and these had heads carved at the angles of their capitals. The bases followed the hood, and arch molds in being merely a plain chamfer. At the time this alteration took place the tower arch was built. The arch is supported by two columns with narrow fillets, their capitals vary, the south having a plain leaf ornament, and the north being decorated with heads. The bases have good moldings and the pointed bowtell is used on the mold of the arch. The chancel arch was slain and supported on two corbels which ad rather curious heads on their lower parts. Owing to the restorations Kirkby had undergone the succeeding alterations were difficult to trace, but probably the reign of Edward III. saw the chancel entirely rebuilt. A few scraps of this Decorated walling remained with a string course, a buttress, and a priest's door, the latter having a wave mold running round it. The fifteenth century saw the east window, which had been restored, inserted, and a niche on the east wall of the south aisle. The niche was shallow with an ogee arch ornamented with crocketts, and each side stopped by small crocketted pinnacles.
On entering the church the first thing that probably attracted the attention of the visitor was the east chancel window, which contained the arms of the Cavendish family in the centre panel, those of the Diocese and City of York, and of Oxford University; also those of the generous donor of the window, Richard Kaye, rector of Kirkby, and Dean of Lincoln. The glass was inserted three years after the Dowager Duchess of Portland had appointed the rev. gentleman to the living. Throsby gives the name of the rector as Sir Richard Key, Bart, but this is undoubtedly an error, for there is abundant testimony that the name was Kaye. The beautiful communion service, still in use in the church, was given by him. It consists of a handsome chalice and paten. On the cup is an inscription: "Ricardus Kaye, rector Preb. de York, Reg. Maj: A sacris and eleemosynis, 1770," and on the paten, which bears the date 1765, is the following: " D.D. Ricardus Kaye, L.L.B., Rector, Dom Joh Lister Kaye, Bar Frat Unic, 1765." It would appear therefore that the paten was given the year he was appointed to the living, the window three years after, and the chalice two years later. We looked in vain for the beautiful monument of William Coke, of Trusley, Derbyshire, and his two wives, which according to early writers stood in the chancel. In the register are drawings of two monumental stones, and a memorandum placed under them. They were exactly of a size, and the inscriptions round the sides were: " Here lieth the body of Wm. Coke, Esq., son and heir of Francis Cokej of Trusley, in the county of Darby, Knight, who married Maud, eldest daughter of Hen Beresford, of Alsop, by whom he had issue 4 sons and 4 daughters. He being of the age of 47 years, Mar. 27, anno Dom, 1641, Lived Godley and died Comfortably."
The other runs:—" Here lieth interred the body of Maud Coke, wife of Wm. Coke, of Kerkby Hall, in the county of Nottingham, Esq., daughter and co-heir of Henry Beresford, of Alsop, in the Dale, in the county of Darby, who lived religiously and died comfortably, 16th March, 1628.'"'
The memorandum informs us that at the feet of Mr. Coke and his wife lay the bodies of two of their eight children—Isabella and Henry. Isabella was buried June 16th, 1627, and Henry July 8th, the same year. These stones which may have been removed during one of the restorations were fixed in the chancel on the south side just below the steps of the altar near to the door.
The Cokes held a moiety of the manor of Trusley, Derbyshire, the Vernons holding the son writes, he found it in miserable disorder, the result of the Civil War. Several soldiers and officers in the Parliamentary army then lived in the town. In a few years the rev. gentleman wrought great reformation, and many who professed the greatest aversion to the Established Church became friends of it. In the last thirty years of his life he did not believe that he had three dissenters in the parish. Despite his long and honourable service it is singular to learn that he had not a friend in the village. The Archbishop of York made him prebendary of the Church of Southwell, and he was collated in 1693.
Mathew Brailsford, who was rector for many years early in the eighteenth century was also Dean of Wells, and he resided at Wells most of his time. The Rev. J. Butterwick states that this rector used to ride through from Wells to Kirkby and back on an old cob. John Brailsford, who followed him, was his nephew.
We have not space at our disposal to give many extracts from the registers and parish accounts, but there are several entries of interest which ought not to be overlooked or omitted. A member of the FitzRandolph family who died in 1636, is credited in the parish accounts with having given a sovereign, and Thomas Richardson, who passed away eighteen years later, was generous with a similar sum. Lawrence Newton, described as a gentleman, who built the manor house, and who died in June, 1657, gave £5. These parish accounts go back to 1656. In one of the registers are entered particulars of collections made for persons and town enumerated. We read that in the month of May, 1663, ye churchwardens collected towards ye inhabitants of Hexham—that interesting and ancient Northumberland town—the sum of seven shillings, signified in his Majesty's letters patent. Hexham's inhabitants had suffered loss by fire, and the collection was made to assist them to repair the loss. The entry is signed by the rector, William Ellis. Three months later the members of St. Wilfrid's congregation showed their practical sympathy with the parishioners of Heighmengeton—by virtue of his Majesty's letters patent—to the extent of 5s., and Grantham also in 1663, received 6s. from the same source. As the Wollen Act was passed to assist the Wool industry, it seemed that people engaged in the trade were helped by the church. At Kirkby, 5s. was collected on October 9th, 1662, to assist Harry Lisle, of Guisborough, in the north riding of Yorkshire. Lisle was a woollen draper. William Oakley, of Elsing, in the county of Norfolk, was not so fortunate as the Yorkshireman, for he had to be satisfied with half-a-crown. The churchwardens accounts for 1678-9, contain a number of references to burial in woollen, as certified. Several of these certificates, 'Buried in woollen only,' were signed by the vicar of Mansfield, the Rev. Mr. Firth, and the curates of Annesley and Sutton also signed them. The Sut-ton curate was John Newton. Vol. I. of the registers is a transcript in front of which is written "This register transcribed in the year of our Lord, 1771, by James Dowland," also "A true and faithful register of all baptisms, marriages and burials within the parish church of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, in the county of Nottinghamshire, from A.D., one thousand, seven hundred and twenty, time of Tobias Waterhouse, Doctor of Divinity." This date undoubtedly should be 1620. There are no marriages entered in the following years:—1620, 1634-5, 1638-9, 1641-4, 1648-9, and 1651-3. In 1656-7, there are several "intentions of marriage" entered, the first being 29th April, 1655, and the last 13th December, 1656. Whether the eight couples entered were ever married does not appear. Other years in which there are no entries, are 1660, 1670, 1682, 1686, 1691, 1700, 1722, 1736, and 1742. In 1670, is an entry of marriage between Thomas Eyre, "Faber ferrarius," and Catherine Saxton, 30th April.
The Torre list of rectors is as follows:—
1238. Will de Ekington.
1290. Tho de Perars.
1311. Joh de Hothom.
1316. Robt. de Kirkeby (resigned). Joh Swafeld (resigned).
1416. Ric de Bekyngham (resigned).
1430. Thos Baldying (resigned).
1432. Tho Prentoft (resigned).
1465. Cuthbert Lightfote (resigned).
1480. Geo. Robynson (resigned).
1482. John Topclyff (died).
1487. John Setyll (died).
1489. Xtper FitzRandolph (died).
1516. Fr. Robt. Thornton (abbot of Sorevalle) (died).
1534. Arth. Wykliff (died).
1581. Franciscus Chapman (resigned).
1592. Thos Hayes (resigned).
1608. Thos Hayes.
1603. John Hepbourn (died).
1616. Tobyas Waterhous.
1660. Oliv vel Clement Ellys.
The registers contains these additions:—
1620. Tobias Waterhouse.
1640. John Hoyland.
1660. Clement Ellis.
1700. John Thwaites.
1703. Math. Brailsford (Dean of Wells).
1734. John Brailsford.
1765. Richard Kaye (Dean of Lincoln).
1810. Brooke Boothby.
1829. John Venables Vernon.
1876. Thomas Woodman (1899).
There are three bells, the oldest being by H. Oldfield, and dated 1618.