Mansfield (continued)

"Mrs. Lucia Molyneux, aged 78, was buried on May 16th, 1754," and in connection with her death and burial, the following letter to the Countess of Oxford, has been found amongst the Welbeck MSS.: "It has pleased God to take to Himself my dear sister this morning, I hereby take the liberty of begging your ladyship's permission to give her a place amongst her relations in your Ladyship's chancel of the church at Mansfield, which will be esteemed a great favour by Madam, your Ladyship's most humble and obedient servant, Mary Molyneux."

In reply to this communication the following letter was received: "Madam, I received yours, and I am very willing to grant your request, so far as lieth in my power in respect of bringing your sister in Mansfield chancel. My bad state of health, I hope, will excuse me writing to you yourself, H.C.H.O."

The churchyard was enlarged in 1762. In 1795 the "Gentleman's Magazine" had a drawing shewing the south side of S. Peter's. In this the Vestry is in ruins. It had fallen into this state during the last eight years, for it was in full repair in 1787. Although the vestry had fallen into disrepair in 1795, money was raised for other purposes. For instance the parishioners procured permission from the Archbishop to erect an organ in the gallery at the west end of the church, to build a gallery over the south aisle, to remove the pulpit, and to convert a pew in the middle aisle on the north side into a churching pew. The cost of all this was to be £15 16s. 3d. Two hundred guineas, however, was the cost of the organ, and every subscriber or his heir of one guinea or more, was given the right to vote at the election of an organist, who was to be removable by the majority of the subscribers and trustees. The organ formerly used in York Minster was publicly opened on Saturday, the 11th of July, 1792.

In 1814 the intelligence of the dethronement of Buonaparte was received with the utmost satisfaction, and on the ratification of a definite treaty of peace illuminations on a most brilliant and extensive scale took place in Nottingham and other parts of the county. Mansfield joined in these jubiliations, and William Coop, of Ratcliffe-gate, as the Church registers show, lost his life by the mail coach running over him when being drawn out of the Swan yard by men to testify their exultation at the news of the recovery of Europe from the tyranny of Buonarparte. We get some information regarding the vicar's small tithes from an old terrier, dated 1817. It mentions the fact that there was a stable in the churchyard adjoining the Free Grammar School, and many people living to-day remember that. There was a close called Vicar's Close, about four acres, but as this field paid yearly to the vicar and churchwardens (governors of church and school) the sum of 22s., it appeared from ancient records that only a part of it was vicarial possession. The vicar received only the tithes of "piggs, eggs, and a moiety of potatoes; Easter offerings; 5d. in the £ on servants' wages; 2d. each communicant; 31/2d. each house. The vicar and churchwardens allowed £28 out of their estates for the necessary uses of the churchwardens, and what more was wanted was raised by a church rate. The officials of the parish church were desirous of making a footway through the churchyard in 1832. but this did not meet with the approval of the parishioners and a riot of a somewhat serious character took place. While the workmen were away one day a mob took possession of the place, broke the wheelbarrow, and filled back the earth that had been dug out. After this display of feeling no further attempt was made to continue the work. We are less sentimental in this age. No voice was raised against the sale by Canon Pavey of land to the Corporation, to widen the road on the north-west side of the church, a sale which meant the cutting away of a slice of the churchyard and the removal of hundreds of bones and coffins. Considerably over a thousand skeletons were reinterred.

We cannot close this article, although it has far outgrown the limit placed upon us, without a brief reference to the bells, communion plate, and monuments. Taking these in the order named, the bells number eight, the oldest being dated 1603. It was, like those bearing dates 1610 and 1613, made by Hy. Oldfield. The oldest bears the names of Thomas Dand and Francis Wass, churchwardens. One of the two 1610 bells has the following inscription:

''Tow summons by this bel we have One to the church, one to the grave
Frances Dand, 1610." The other of the same date:
"When thes bels ringe Their frendli giftes are sounded, 1610."

On the next oldest, 1611, the names of Mathy Walker, and Thom Brelsforde are inscribed, and an old favourite couplet to be found on many bells:

"I sweetly toling men do call
To taste on meats that feed the soule, 1613."

There are, therefore, five seventeenth century bells. Two of the remaining three are dated 1762, and bear the following inscriptions :

"The gift of Robert Watson, carpenter, and churchwarden. Lester and Pack, of London, Fecit, 1762."

"Robert  Watson and Ralph Brocksopp, churchwardens, 1762. Lester and Pack, of London, Fecit." On the undated bell may be read:

"At proper times my Voice I'll raise, And sound to my subscribers' praise,
Lester and Pack, of London, Fecit."

The church plate is not a very valuable collection. There is a large silver alms dish, inscribed: "The gift of Mrs. Ann Hewitt, to the parish of Mansfield, Sept. ya. 21, 1753." In the centre of the dish I.H.S. is surrounded with a "glory," and the arms of the donor are engraved on the rim. A chalice dated 1611; another has the hall mark of 1702 upon it, and a paten bears the same mark, and bears same as the chalice, the inscription: " Donum Ecclesiae de Mansfield per amicus duas." There is another chalice, datedl846, inscribed: "John Bownes and Jas. Carter, churchwardens." Beside these there is a double set of silver-gilt vessels of modern date, 1879.

As to the monuments, some have been dealt with already. The present vicar, in his brochure, says when we recollect that the Stanhopes, Pierreponts, Molineux, and perhaps the Herizs and Darcies, all had town houses in Mansfield, there is a singular lack of monuments in the church. That this was not always the case and that there must at some period have been a wholesale mutilation, is clear from a note in the Harleian MMS., and from the coats of arms which Harrod saw in the windows in 1800. In the south aisle, in the east window he noted the arms of the Heriz and Darcie families. The Rishton tablet, now placed on the wall of the south aisle, is solely interesting, because there is inscribed upon it a somewhat free quotation from the Bishop's Bible:

"Here lyeth Francis ye wife of Theophilus Rishton, of Mansfield, in Sherwood, in ye county of Nottinga, Yeoman, Daughter of William Readman, of Southmusker, in ye same county, who died ye XXIX, of December, 1629. I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that I shall rise out of ye earth in ye last day, and shall be covered againe with my skinne, and shall see God in my flesh. Job 19. Memento  Mori."

The brass now placed near the font was found in a crumpled condition in 1904, underneath the stone coffin still to be seen in the north chapel. It is to the memory of Francis Molyneux, son of Francis Molyneux, of Teversal. He was churchwarden with Robert Brunts, during the Commonwealth. Born in 1626, he died in 1664.

A much defaced tablet bearing a Latin inscription, is to the memory of Walter Laycock, a physician of no common reputation, who relieved the poor while he lived, and on his death-bed clothed them.

There is a brass to the memory of a Clay, a family which in times back was an influential one. A John Clay, of Mansfield, married a grandchild of George Mompesson. Jonathan Clay, who passed away in 1724, at the age of 39, lived too short a time for his friends and the neighbourhood (so great was his usefulness); for himself and the acquisition of fame he lived long enough.

Perhaps the most curious tablet, or rather the inscription, is one to the memory of Margaret Meymott, the wife of Joseph Meymott, a mercer, who removed to Halifax, where he was buried in 1717. Mrs. Meymott was a daughter of the rector of Kirkby, and on the brass it is stated: "Remarkable in that she departed this life on the same day in which her beloved and justly admired sovereign Queen Anne, of pious memory, changed her earthly crown for a more exceeding weight of glory, which was August 1st, 1714." This fulsome inscription is curiously characteristic of the times. But we must not blame Margaret for what her friends placed upon her monument. They might just as appropriately have announced that during the same year the last remnant of the distinctions between the Anglo-Saxon and Norman races was obliterated by the omission at Nottingham to summon separate juries at assizes and sessions for the French and English boroughs.

The Sterne's are remembered by a small brass on the south wall of the tower.

On either side of the chancel arch stand two monoliths, the arms on one being those of the family of Plumtree, and the other is thought, by the beast depicted thereon, to be James Badger's tombstone, a former vicar.

The monumental effigy, long thought to be that of Lady Flogan, is said by Bloxam to have been executed at least 170 years before her time. The memorial is of white Mansfield stone, and is thought to be to a Pierrepont, seeing there is a facsimile in Holme Pierrepont Church.

At the west end of the south aisle is a blocked-up doorway, which goes by the name of the ale door. Whether it ever was used for church ales is unknown, for no direct evidence on the point is forthcoming. At all events the name serves to remind us of an old custom. Church ales, also called Easter ales and Whitsun ales were the old form of church bazaars. Ready for the feast day the churchwardens brewed a portion of strong ale which was sold to the populace, and most of the better sort, in addition to what they paid for drink, contributed something towards the collection, which money was expended in repairs of the church, and was a great easement of the parish rates. Between the chancel and south chapel is a small opening which has caused much speculation as to its original use. No satisfactory conclusion has been arrived at, the most probable theory being that it was once a small, low side window, such as is to be seen at Laxton, which was altered and kept open when the chancel walls were pierced in the 15th century.

The Torre list of vicars, which does not include either Anthony Bek or William Spykke, to whom  we  have referred, is as follows:—

1282 Roger de Mauncefield.
1305 Will de Leverton.
1309 Hugo  de Cubleye.
1322 Hen.  de Maunesfield.
1350 Petr.  de East Drayton.
1361 Will de Beckhampton.
1372 Adam Matson.
1378 Job Bate, Junior, de Arnall.
Job Randolph.
1403 Will Bertham vel Bergholm.
1409 Tho Restwet vel Westweyte.
1437 Job Smyth.
1468 Jac Heyton.
1475 Robert Blackwell.
1485 Robert Colyngham, M.A.
1499 Ric Jekyll.
1505 Robert  Blackwell.
1508 Job Crosby.
1517 Will Clerk.
1557 Christopher  Granger.
Christopher Parker.
1574 Jac. Bretyn.
1592 Bryan Britton.
1628 John  Price.
1654 John Firth.
1699 Geo. Mompesson.
1722 William Mompesson.
1737 James Badger.
1752 Septimus Plumtre.
1782 John Durham.
1813 Thomas Cursham.
1868 Henry L. Bennett.
1873 Alfred Pavey.
1900 Hubert S.  Arkwright.
1903 Alfred H. Prior.