Mansfield Woodhouse (2)

In the tower a stone has the following inscription: "To the memory of William Pinckney, of Mansfield Woodhouse, Esq., who was a very worthy gentleman, and esteemed by all that knew him. He was one of ye Tellers of ye exchequer in ye reign of King Charles ye II. and died September, 1695." On the same slab, which is on the south wall of the tower is the following: "In memory of Leonard Pinckney, only son of the said William, who was verderer of ye forest of Shire-wood, customer, of Newcastle, gentleman usher to Queen Anne, King George I., and King George II., and one of his Majesty's justices of the peace for this county, of all which places he was posessed when he dyed (is much lamented) August 13th, 1731, aged 52. He married Elizabeth daughter of John South, of Kelston, in the county of Lincoln, Esq. She was Maid of Honour to King James II's Queen, and, surviving without issue, erected this affection to her dear husband."

Another stone states: "Elizabeth Eyre, eldest daughter of Gervase Eyre, Esq., formerly of Rampton, in this county, died April 1st, 1750. This monument is erected to her memory at the request of her only surviving sister Diana Eyre, who died August 17, 1763, aged 71 years, and also lies in this church."

The glass in the window in the tower was placed there to the memory of the Rev. Alfred Brook, vicar of this parish Born April 20th, 1828; died October 21st, 1870. There is also a window in the south aisle erected to the memory of Edmund and Mary Sykes, who died in 1879. In the South Chapel, where rest the remains of the Hall family, the latest member's bones to be lowered into the vault being those of Mr. William Hall, J.P., who met with his death on a transatlantic liner but a few years ago. On a tablet we read: "Major-General John Hall, of Park Hall, Mansfield Woodhouse, Born April 10th, 1770; died July 26th, 1823." "Letitia, his wife, only child of Geoffrey Brock, Esq., of Basford, in the county of Nottingham. Born September 10th, 1783; died May 19th, 1870." This tablet was placed here by their only daughter, Letitia Mary Welfitt. The descendants of John Hall, Esq., still own half the chapel, and the other half passed eventually with the Digby's old manor house into the possession of the Duke of Portland.

In the tower may also be seen a fine stone to the memory of John Neale, son of Richard Neale and Maria, his wife. Throsby states that in the South Chapel Sir John and Lady Digby have a monument, and Mrs. Pinckney and Pendock Neale are also remembered in the chapel. There is an interesting memorandum in the register respecting this said Pendock. The Neales, of Tollerton, where Pendock appears to have been born, must have had some little difference with the parson there, for the memo states that Pendock Neale was born the tenth day of June, 1728, and baptized the ninth day of July following, at Tollerton, and the reason of the incumbent refusing his church at Tollerton, "ye birth of ye said Pendock Neale is registered here."

A rumour, which is heard occasionally repeated to-day, is that George Fox, the Quaker preached in Mansfield Woodhouse Church. This idea may have originated from the fact that Fox was several times at the village where the Quakers had a meeting house, and we know of at least one occasion on which he visited S. Edmund's. He was placed in the stocks for "declaring the truth to priest and people." Soon after he regained his liberty from Nottingham gaol, where he had been kept a prisoner for some time, he came to Mansfield Woodhouse, and he himself relates how he came upon a distracted woman whose hands were bound and who was being violently held by many people, in order that a doctor might bleed her. He requested them to unbind her and let her alone, as they could not touch the spirit within her, and they did so, and he was moved to speak to her, with the result that the Lord's power settled her mind; she mended, and afterwards received the truth and continued it to her death. Whilst at Mansfield Woodhouse Fox was moved to go to the steeple-house there and declare the truth to the priest, and the people. This the people very naturally resented, for Fox says they fell upon him in great rage and struck him down, and almost stifled and smothered him. He was cruelly beaten and bruised by them with their hands, bibles, and sticks. Then they haled him out, though he was hardly able to stand, and put him into the stocks, where he sat for some hours, and they brought dog whips and horse whips, threatening to whip him. After some time they led him before a magistrate at a Knight's house (probably Sir John Digby's) where there were many great persons, who seeing how cruelly he had been used, after much threatening, set him at liberty. He concludes his narrative by stating that the rude people stoned him out of the town for preaching the word of life to them.

We know that the Quakers held meetings at this time in the village, for the vicar, Fra Chapman, in answer to the Royal command, "to enquire after all conventicles or unlawful meetings under pretence of religion and the worship of God, by such as separate from the unite and conformite of the church as by law established," said they had no conventicle but one of Quakers, at the house of Robert Bingham, who was excommunicated for not coming to church. Who the people were who attended the house the vicar could not say.

The growth of the village in the old days was very slow. For instance, during the five years beginning 1753 there were only 122 baptisms recorded and 93 burials. Forty years later, the five years ending 1792, the numbers were 152 and 93 respectively. The augmentation of Queen Anne's bounty, purchased by Mrs. Digby for £200 to this parish only. There is no house, neither lands, pensions or profits whatsoever beside surplice dues. In the church are five bells and a clock. The communion plate consists of a flagon of pewter, a cup which holds about a quart, and a small paten, both of silver, but no inscription or weight mark upon either. There is a pewter plate for the bread. There are no lands or money left for the repair of the church. The parish repair the church, the churchwardens the fence, and her Grace the Duchess of Portland the chancel. The clerk receives 20s. per annum for ringing the bell at six o'clock every morning, and 17s. 4d. for taking care of the clock. His customary fees are 8d. per annum for every messuage, and 4d. for every cottage. The surplice fees of the minster are—Banns publishing 1s., marrying when banns are paid 1s., with licence 5s., churching 7d., burying in the churchyard 1s., in the church 2s., and in the chancel 5s. This is signed by James Lynam; John Ball, Thomas Brook, churchwardens; John Thorpe, Wm. Whelpdale, John Parks, John Truswell, Samuel Harvey, John Beardall, Richd. Eyre, John Brook, parishioners. Wm. Goodacre, curate and John Booth and John McDonald, churchwarden add, "and no alterations since then have come to our knowledge, July 7th, 1817."

James Lynam was curate in the middle of the 18th century.

There was also a detailed account of the cash received by the Building Committee towards the expenses of the restoration. The church Building Society gave £120, her Majesty the Dowager Queen £20, the Duke of Portland £641, Clay Pit Trustees £400, Mr. Francis Hall £200, Mrs. Coke £50, Mr. Charles Neale £100, Mr. W. Fletcher £100, Mr. W. Tolley £100, Mr. E. Sykes £30, Lady Henry Bentinck £25, and Mrs.  Need £50.

There are six bells in the tower, and a small scaring bell.  They are thus inscribed:


Jhesus. N.D.


God  save  His church. P. Wilson,  I.


Hooke, churchwardens,  1698.


Sca maria o pn.


Intactum sileo percute dulce  cano


1749.  (Touch me not and I am silent,


strike me, and I sound sweetly.)


Thomas Hedderley, founder, Wood-


house Willey, churchwarden.


Ring in the love of truth and  light.


Charles Webb, vicar. W. Warner


and Joseph Harrison, churchwardens,




In memory of Francis Hall, died 1888;


Mary Ann Hall, his wife, 1871. (1892.)

These last two mentioned bells were placed in the tower on May 25th, 1892, and dedicated by the Bishop Suffragan, of Derby. They were presented, one by Mr. W. W. Hall, in memory of his uncle, Capt. Hall, and his wife; and the other by the parishioners. That presented by Mr. Hall is the heaviest in the belfry, and weigh 193/4cwt.

As already stated there is little left of the church of Norman times. As it now stands it consists of nave, chancel, north and south aisles, chancel chapel, north and south porches, tower and spire at the west end, an organ chamber and vestry on the north side of the chancel. The tower and spire form a picturesque feature, being quite different in character to any other in the neighbourhood, for they take more after the Northamptonshire type than that of the adjoining county of Lincolnshire, which Nottinghamshire has mostly followed. The lower part of the tower appears to be of an earlier date than the upper portion, and has small plain lancet windows. Those in the belfry are two-light windows with Geometric decorated tracery in their heads, and there are four more of the same type, but surmounted by gables, and forming large spire lights, at the junction of the tower and spire. The broach spire is surmounted by small gables, having, when viewed from a distance, the appearance of a crown. This tower and spire must have been commenced early in the 14th century, and is the only old architectural feature now left, with the exception of the columns of the south nave arcade, which are supposed to be the original ones. There is no doubt they were rechiselled at the restoration. The body of the church was built to the design of Sir Gilbert Scott, in 1847. The clerestory was removed, and the present high-pitched slate roof substituted. He built the north aisle too. The ancient state of the church has to be traced from old drawings, some executed in the middle of the eighteenth century, and others in the early part of the nineteenth. The fire of 1304 did not destroy all the old work, for in the sketch we published of the north aisle of the church in 1787, it will be seen that at that time a small Norman window remained on the north side of the chancel. The east window was a three-light Early English, with intersecting mullions in the head, and a three-light window of the same period was at the east end of the south chapel. One plain lancet was to be seen in the nave in the north near the chancel, and four two-light windows of the Perpendicular period formed the clerestory on the same side. On the south side were three Perpendicular windows, each of three lights, and in the south chancel chapel was a three-light debased window. The clerestory in the south had four two-light debased windows, an alteration of the seventeenth century. Woodhouse possesses both north and south porches, both apparently belonging to the Debased period.

In the old church were two frescoes, but no record was kept of them, and they were destroyed at the restoration.