Teversall church - the staircase leading to the gallery.
Teversall church - the staircase leading to the gallery.

WHETHER we visit the old Church at Teversal as antiquarian, historian, architect, or merely as one unlearned in, and showing no liking for matters and things which belong to a bygone age, we find much to interest Of the churches in the Deanery few, if any, provide greater possibilities for, as the newspaper man says, good "copy." The interesting Norman door-way, with its symbolic sculpture, its seventeenth century seating, and ancient Molyneux family pew of the same period, its quaint little gallery at the west end, its Molyneux hatchments, seven in number, and the mural monuments to the same distinguished family, a south chapel containing the tombs of two members or the Greenhalgh family, all make it a place well worth a visit. We have not space at our command neither would it come within the scope of this article to deal with the very early history of the parish, but we might make brief mention of its connection with Saxon times. Sail frequently occurs in the county, and is from the old Saxon sal or sell, a seat, dwelling, mansion, palace or hall. This would imply that the owner of Teversal had a hall or residence. In Domesday the place is called Tevreshalt, the Saxon possessor being Lewric, and the Norman tenant-in-chief Radulf fil Huberti. The sub-tenant was Goisfrid, who was tenant-in-chief of Barton-in-Fabis, Annesley, Bunny (in dominio), Kilvington, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Chilwell, Cossal, Gipmere near Beensby, Nottingham, Thorney, Wansley and Widmerpool.

The church of S. Catherine is an ancient rectory. It belonged in early days to the Barrys, and after to the Becks, and Lords Willoughby de Ersby. Robert de Willughby and John de Haxecourt, Lords of Plesley, in Darbyshire, 10 Ed. II., held the advowson of the church of Tevyrsall, of which with the manor of Plesley there was a recovery suffered, 9 Hen 7, by Humphrey Peshale, Esq., and Margaret, his wife, who called to warrant William Asteley, Esq.

In the fifteenth century the value of the rectory was £7, but we find according to the 1650 Parliamentary Inquiry it was at that time valued at " ffiftie pounde." "William Smithson Clerke, the present incumbent receives the proffitte thereof and his owne use, and is a preachinge minister." We will pass on through the Barry occupation to the interesting period when the Greenhalghs resided at the Manor house, which came into their possession through marriage. They lived in the sixteenth century, and in the south chapel an exceedingly fine slab marks the resting place of Roger Greenhalgh and his wife. The oldest bell, one of five, was the gift of this same Roger, who was a great benefactor to the church. The alabaster tombs are to the memory of the wife of Rogeri Greenehalghe, daughter of Thomas Babington, of Dethick, who died in 1538, and the other is over the vault in which repose the bones of the said Roger, who died in 1562.

On the top is his " pourtraiture," scored and filled with lead, and on the side three hunter's horns, stringed upon a Bend engrailed, quartering Barry, all which impales Babington.

Roger Greenhalgh made his will on December 2nd, 1562, and so interesting is the document that a portion of it is worth quoting. He appointed his body to be buried in the south "ile" of Teversal Church near to the altar there. To be bestowed upon alms deeds (and other expenses) he left £60, and another £40 was to be distributed in charity a month after his funeral. This practice was fully in accordance with old custom, and was meant to celebrate what was then known as his "month's mind." To the church he left £20, and for mending the "high waies" of Teversal £40, and there were other legacies to divers poor, etc. To all his friends who were present at his funeral a black "gowne " was to be given, and every yeoman within his house was to receive a black coat. Lavish expenditure was indulged in at this time in connection with funerals. Probably the peculiar attachment of the lower orders today in attending funerals is a kind of hereditary habit from these entertainments, prevalent for so long a period. A sum of £50 was left for the purchase of lands for the Free School of Mansfield (if there be one), and Teversal, with Woodhouse, Whetbarrow, Dunsill, Newbould, Stanley and Stanley Grange he willed to Francis Molyneux and Elizabeth his wife. His other lands he gave to Gervase Nevill and Anne, his wife. His executors were Francis Molyneux and Thos. Loods Clarke, and Sir Gerv Clifton he made overseer of his will with a legacy of twenty "angels." He married Anne, daughter of Thomas and Editha Babington. She was the eleventh of fifteen children, and had previously married George Leche, of Chatsworth, who died in 1505.

This Roger Greenhalgh (mentioned in Sutton-in-Ashfield) lived seized of that Manor and this and Rowthorne in Derbyshire, three mess in Tevershelf, one in Hethe and some other lands in both counties. Thomas, his son and heir, being dead before him, Elizabeth, the elder daughter of the said Thomas, then aged about twenty-three years, and wife of Francis Molyneux, and Anne, the younger, then aged 21, and wife of Gervase Nevill, were his heirs. From Elizabeth the estate descended to Sir Francis Molyneux, Bart., of Hawton, "who made it his principal residence till of late, then he left to his son John, who married Lucie, the daughter of Alexander Rigby and widow of Robert Hesketh, of Lancashire, of whom he had three sons, Francis, John and Thomas, and divers daughters now residing in this place; Sir Francis having made Kneeton a fit habitation." This Sir Francis was Sheriff of Nottinghamshire in 1582. Queen Elizabeth granted to John Molyneux., Esq., lordship or manors of Carlton Kingston, and Carlton Barrow, and all singular mess lands, etc., in Carlton-in-Lindrick, Worsop, Ellesley, Normanton, Little Morton, Wallingwells, Reyton and Reyton Grange, in the counties of Notts, and Yorkshire. Sir John's grandchild leased it for 80 years to one Halsey, and since then Vivian Molyneux, Esq., son and heir of that Sir John, who was sheriff of Notts, in 1611, sold the inheritance of it to Sir Gervase Clifton. There is much in the church to remind one of the Molyneux family who resided here for centuries. They claim to have been lineally descended from the Lords of Molyneux in Normandy.

Of the mural tablets erected to members of this family the oldest is that to Sir Francis (and his wife) who died in 1674. His son and heir, Sir John, died 1691, and his wife Dame Lucy predeceased him by three years. Sir Francis and Dame Diana, his wife (daughter of John Howe, Esq., of Langar) were also laid in the family vault, the lady died in 1718, and the baronet in 1741. They had seven sons and three daughters. Their monument contains the following lines: " Happy in the conjugal, not unhappy in the present state, they ended their days in peace and in full assurance of a blessed, resurrection. Sir Charles Molyneux, Bart, fifth son and heir, put up this monument to the memory of the best of parents."

Sir Francis Molyneux, Knight and Baronet, L.L.D., who died at the age of 71 in 1812, was for 47 years gentleman usher of the black rod, and we read on his tombstone: "He was distinguished through life by integrity of character and just attention to the obligations of honourable conduct." He was the seventh and last baronet of his ancient family. The tablet was erected in grateful respect to his memory by his great niece, Henrietta Howard Molyneux, eldest daughter of the Lord Henry Thomas Molyneux Howard, to whom he bequeathed his estates. In the same vault are deposited the remains of his maiden sister, Anne Molyneux, who died March 11th, 1810. There are no fewer than seven hatchments charged with this family's arms hanging in the nave of the church, and there are other evidences of their connection with the church and manor. Before leaving the subject of the tablets we might mention that the memory of the Rev. William Rawlings, M.A., 33 years resident rector, is perpetuated, and also that of the Rev. Tufnell Barrett, whom the present rector followed in 1902. Mr. Barrett was 70 years of age when he died, and had been rector for 16 years. On the east exterior wall is a slab erected by the Rev. Charles Plumbtree, and his wife Mary, to the memory of their four children. Close to this spot is a railed off space with a large stone bearing the name of the Rev. Edward Blencowe, of whose sermons the Rev. T. Mosley, Oriel College, Oxford, says: "Blencowe's sermons were published by his wife and are preached from more pulpits than any other sermons of the 19th century."

There is a brass to the memory of Richard Randall Rawlins, clerk for 31 years, incumbent of Kneeton, in this county, who died October 24th, 1874, aged 88 years, and of Elizabeth, his wife, who died March 13th, 1870. The stained glass in the church is modern. The south windows in the chancel contain some fine glass, and the sill bears a brass tablet with the following inscription: "In memory of Henrietta Anna, Countess of Carnarvon, who died 26th May, 1876. The windows in this chancel were erected by her tenants and other friends to record their gratitude for her universal beneficence and their reverence for her character as a mother in Israel."

The benefactions are not numerous. Mrs. Diana Molyneux, who died at Bath in 1753, by her will, left to the poor of the parish the sum of £20, payment of which, with annual interest, is secured by a bond given by Sir Charles Molyneux, Bart. This same Sir Charles, who died July 30th, 1764, left to the poor of Teversal the sum of £50, the management of which is vested in the churchwardens for ever.

The registers date from 1571, baptisms and burials being chronicled from that year, and marriages from 1572. Through the kindness of the rector, the Rev. G. E. Eaton, we were enabled to make a complete search of the registers and many quaint and interesting entries are to be found in them. As far back as 1610, coal was being worked in the Teversal district, for we find: "Ann Wilson, the daughter of John Wilson, a collier," was baptised in September of that year. We came across another entry respecting a coal miner. It was this: "Christopher Hardy, a collier, being slayn in a coal pit road, buryed ye 8th of Maie, 1619." It is somewhat amusing to find one of the old rectors (the Rev. Mason) entering into the most minute details in every entry he makes respecting his own kith and kin. The Monlyneux family were of little importance in comparison with those bearing the name of Mason, if we judge by the prominence given to the latter in the register. For instance, we find: "James Mason, son of my son James, was born 30th June, being Monday about four of ye clock, in ye morning, and baptized ye 6th day of July next following 1623." The following year Thomas, "another son of my son James," was born at 7 o'clock. This form of entry was usually adopted for great families, but Mason only used it for his own. His family was an important one in his own estimation, for even his godson is mentioned as: "James Willson, my godson, and John Willson, his brother, borne at one byrth, ye sonnes of John Willson, ye slater, were baptised ye XXIIIIth, of ffebruaris, 1615." Here is another entry: "Gregory Greenwood, ye Sonne of a wandering woman, was baptized ye same day. This was XXVIII. of Male, being Wit-Sonday, 1626." Three baptisms had taken place that day, an unusual press of business for Teversal. From the list of burials we notice that James Mason, who was buried at Teversal in 1633, was vicar of Normanton. Here is a very interesting entry: "Whereas the Act for burying in woollen commenced August 1st, 1678, there are certificates," (then follows a portion that is illegible.) We may add here that it was not lawful after this Act came into operation, to use a needleful of thread or silk in the wrapping up of the dead. The intention of the Act was to encourage the woollen manufacture and a trade arose in these woollen shifts, as they were called. In Chesterfield parish church on one of the Foljambe tombs there is a carving in bas relief of a corpse wrapped in its shift or bag, tied at the head and feet. Before interment a certificate was necessary, setting forth that the body was enveloped in Before leaving the registers we might quote the following entry: '' John Molyneux, of Teversal, Esq., and Mrs. Lucy Hesketh, of Rufforth, in the county of Lancaster, were maryed by Richard Standish, justice of the peace at Quorn, in the county of Lancaster, at Wrightinton, in the eighteenth day of April, 1655, in the psence of John Harlinge, Margaret Breares, George Ashbury and Hen. Houghton Beinge before married at Rufford aforesaid in the parish of Croston and county aforesaid, about ten o'clock of the same daye by John Seddon, minister, of Penworthan, in the county aforesaid." On turning to the churchwarden's accounts we found many interesting entries, and not a few that are amusing. A whole chapter might very well be devoted to these records, but a few extracts will have to suffice. We frequently came across sums of 1s. paid for slaying a fox, same price as at Mansfield, and money spent for kids (presumably gorse kids, to prevent sparrows building in spouts): "William Cupit for half a hundred of long kids. 1s." It is amusing to notice how the churchwardens seized every available opportunity to celebrate this, that, or the other by beer drinking. When the causey was laid 1s. 6d. was spent on ale. The bell ringers appear to have been a very thirsty set. The constables' accounts always open with an item of 5s. for taking over accounts. Why this expenditure was necessary we could not at first understand, but in 1737 a very conscientious officer was appointed, for we observe that he is not ashamed to admit the purpose for which the money was required. His entry is: "For ale at last accounts 5s." The village constable in 1741 appears to have gone to Mansfield to fraternise with his colleague at that town, for in the accounts we find '' spent with ye constable at Mansfield 2s. 6d." About a century ago a woman named Peggy Parkin seems to have been a source of great expense to the parish. On April 26th, 1808, Samuel Wilson received 3s. for bleeding Peggy, and May 2nd, for a similar operation he received a like sum. This old fashioned treatment did not appear to be efficacious for the next entry in the book is one of 2s. 6d. for a journey to Sutton to fetch a doctor. But, Peggy survived, for on May 7th, her removal to Calow cost the parish 6s., and later John Hewitt was paid 7s. for looking after her. In 1811, eleven weeks' keep of the same woman cost £5 15s. 6d., but six years elapse before we find her receiving 6s. for clothes, and the last item is one of 2s. for stockings for her. These items are selected as a sample of what the constable's accounts are made up of. The burial of one named Lees was an expensive matter for no less than 10s. worth of ale and Is. 4d. worth of cheese were consumed at his funeral. It was in October 1811. Here is a curious entry in 1819 :—


s. d.

Paid 31 dozen Sparrows at 6d.

... 15   6

14       "             "       "  4d.

...   4   8

12      "             "       "  3d.

...   3   0

Sixpence a dozen was a very good price compared with the payment in the neighbourhood. The price was probably reduced through the pest being checked. At Sutton, the prevailing payment was 3d. a dozen.

Under the date of October 25th, 1795, we read in the parish registers, "This morning the Church was again opened for divine service after receiving a full repair, which lasted nearly two months, during which interval the leads were repaired and the walla pointed, the main aisle was drawn over in the inside, and the arch timbers painted white and light blue. The chancel was for the first time sealed and the whole painted, whitewashed, and cleaned in every part. William Rawlins, rector." The present rector assures us that there are old people still living in the village who can well remember these colours being used in the decoration of the edifice. One says her mother used to speak of the time when the Molyneux pew was occupied by musicians who led the singing. For some reason which we have not been able to make out, the instrumentalists "struck," and it was then that Lady Carnarvon provided the church with its first organ. It was, however, a very different instrument to what we are accustomed to find in our churches to-day. The organist was the man who turned the handle, a la Italiano, the tunes being necessarily very limited in number. In those days the children used to sit in the gallery, which still remains at the west end of the church, and which dates back to the seventeenth century. The old panelling used in the gallery staircase as seen in the sketch, was probably a patchwork job.

An examination of the plan of the church shows three striking points, the internal porch, the narrow north aisle, and the tower partly built over the nave arcade. The south aisle, from the east of the porch to the tower, is the same width as the north aisle. This narrowness leads to the supposition that here is the plan of the old Norman church, built on in later times.

Norman doorway inside church.

The church, judging from the door-way now remaining, would probably be founded in the first half of the twelfth century, and like many other places, Teversall has only its door-way left to indicate its Norman origin. This door-way is extremely interesting, and in many respects, puzzling. At first sight it appears to be an ordinary Norman door-way of two orders, from which the side columns have disappeared, these having been replaced by a curious mixture of odd capitals and moldings, but closer inspection shews the capitals to be sculptured on the stones of the jambs, in some cases two on a stone, shattering the first impression that they were odd capitals taken from the various parts of the Norman church and placed in this recess to fill the blanks left when the columns went. The capitals vary much in style and close to the ground on either side, under them is a piece of sculptured molding, ornamented on the west with a species of cable, and on the east with plaiting. The variety does not end here, for above all this ornament is an irregular band of star and lozenge, commencing with the former on the west, and then continuing all round the arch with the latter. Again the bosses of the hood mold vary, that on the east being an ordinary Norman type, and that on the west a figure. The inner order consists of  sculptured medallions, some symbolical, some apparently capricious. On these medallions will be noticed a figure of a priest with the right hand raised in the act of benediction, and the left holding a closed hook, three fish, a serpent, a number of square holes, a thorn, a dove, a lamb with a cross on its back, some crosses and stars. The figure of the priest is enclosed in a vesica piscis, and on the stone is rudely cut "Johannes." This has led to the theory that it represents St. John, but on many Norman tympana precisely, such a figure is frequently seen, and is a sculptured representation of our Lord, hence it may be safely concluded that this is the same, and not St. John, the lettering having been cut at a later date, especially seeing that the vesica was the particular glory for the body of Christ. This placing of a figure of our Lord on doorways was in allusion to his words: "I am the door, by Me if any man enter he shall be saved." Probably the three fish relate to baptism, and the serpent to the Devil, while the stone assumed to represent a thorn and squares which may be nails, possibly symbolise our Lord's passion. The dove perhaps represents the Holy Ghost. The lamb, with the cross on its back, is the Agnus Dei, and the cross it bears is the cross of the Resurrection not of the Passion. The crosses are mostly of Maltese form, and such are common on Norman doorways, but usually only one is cut over the door, not several round as in this instance. The east jamb of the doorway bears a small incised cross on its soffit, which may be a dedication cross.