OWING to its nearness to the King's Palace at Clipstone, probably, the ancient village of Warsop, in the days when Britain's Kings loved to participate in the chase in Merry Sherwood, was a place of more than ordinary interest and importance. Long ago as that is, the prettily situated church looked down upon the old mill as it does to-day, and many are the records to be found on the various rolls in London's treasure house of Warsop's ancient demense. Although colliery developments in the district have resulted in the sinking of a pit at Warsop Main and the adjoining parishes of Shirebrook and Mansfield Woodhouse, Warsop has managed to retain much of its quaintness and country aspect. As we rode througn its streets, still typical of the agricultural village it once was, and halted to look at the quaint mill, the fine old rectory, which the rector was kind enough to show us over, the church and the Hall Farm adjoining, it was difficult to realise that coal pits are surely surrounding this relic of a past age.
But let us turn to the church's history. Probably about the reigns of either Henry I. or Stephen the present church of Warsop was founded. To this Norman building the tower arch, with its rude ornament of indented work and slightly carver capitals belongs. It is an interesting arch with a line of rather curious ornament at the back of the roll molds. Warsop, in these early times, was a place of some importance, and so possibly the next fifty years after its foundation saw a further alteration in the church, and the aisles may then have been constructed. In the walling of the north aisle is to be seen a perfectly plain Norman doorway, now blocked up. The tower witn its massive walls has still much of the Norman masonry to be seen despite the patchings that subsequent centuries inserted. Its west door and window over have been restored, but on the south side one of the original Norman windows with a Maltese cross incised on the east side of the head still exists. The Early English period left its mark on Warsop. About King John's reign the north nave arcade of three bays was altered, and the south porch built. The north arcade has octagonal columns and caps, the half column forming the west respond being in the form of a pointed bow-tell. The outer door of the porch is a good specimen with two detached columns having carved caps and square abaci. The moldings round the arch are ornamented with nail head and a small pointed bowtell on the inner face.
At the end of Edward the First's reign, when the Early English style was slowly merging into the Decorated, further alterations were made. The south arcade, also of three bays, the inner door of the porch, and the sedilia and piscina in the chancel were built. The section of each column of this arcade consists of four rolls and fillets, the capitals and bases have good moldings, and the columns stand on circular plinths about the height of a seat from the ground. Built at a time when pews were unknown in churches these plinths may have been designed for the Warsop congregation to use as seats. The inner door of the porch has two detached columns, and a good arch mold; it is not nearly so pointed as the outer door, and has been thoroughly restored. The sedilia has three seats, and geometric tracery above them. Towards the reign of Edward the Second three windows were inserted on the south side, one at the east end of the north aisle, and those in the belfry. Then, apparently, Warsop church remained unaltered until the latter half of the fifteenth century. The Perpendicular period added three windows in the north wall, the east window, one now blocked up on the north side of the chancel, and one at the west end of the south aisle. The east window is a large one of six lights and one peculiarity to be noticed about it is that instead of the usual large shallow casement molds seen in Perpendicular window jambs and arches, the Warsop ones have merely a large chamfer. About this time the chancel arch was altered, and the abutments raised by putting another part of a column on each of the old responds. These are finished with capitals, having unbattled ornament on their abaci. Not content with the windows the Perpendicular artists set about re-roofing the chancel, and this roof now remains. There are carved bosses on the tie beams, one having I.H.S. on, and another a lion. Behind one of the beams a wooden pulley is fixed in apparently its original position. From this pulley the Pyx may have been suspended, as it was customary in England to fix a support for this purpose in front of the altar. The position of the Warsop pulley is, however, nearer the centre of the chancel than was usual, and it may have been used to support a circle of lights rather than for the Pyx. When the Gothic style was nearly over, Warsop had its vestry built. This is a very handsome one with three single light windows, three buttresses surmounted by pinnacles, an outside door (modern), and is finished with an embattled parapet. Small as the building is it forms a picturesque feature on the south side of the church, an unusual position for a vestry to be placed. The majority of vestries are built on the north. There are here and there churches having old vestries built on the south side, but they are few in number. Two of the three windows have square heads, and heavy label molds. The east one is pointed and over it is a small niche with an ogee head. No outside door existed when the vestry was first built, the present one being put in at the restoration when the pinnacles and gargoyles were replaced.In the sixteenth century the present clerestory was built with three windows each side, the northern ones being of two lights each, and the southern ones of three lights each. Apparently about this time the plain parapet was added round the nave, chancel, and aisles. The church now has an organ chamber on the north side of the chancel, but this is a modern addition. The tower had to be patched, and strong buttresses added in the early part of the last century. In the eighteenth century a window existed of three lancet arches under one hood mold in the south wall of the chancel near the east end of the south aisle, now replaced by one in the Decorated style. Warsop did not escape the vigorous restorations of the churchwardens of the 17th century, who inserted two debased square headed windows in the south wall of the south aisle; these disappeared at the last restoration.
From the Archbishop's Register at York we learn that in 1245 Richard de Sutton had the church of Warsop at the presentation of John de Lexington. On referring to the Patent Roll Ed. I., we find the following entry:—" 1295, August 20, Westminster. Licence on Richard de Sutton to grant for life to Hugh de Swyling, and on land to the yearly value of 20 marks, in his manor of Warsop, held by him Ln chief." William de Birlay was the parson in 1294, for we find his name on the list of prelates and clergy who granted the King for one year, a moiety of their benefices and goods according to the taxation last made, "for a tenth for the Holy Land." This tenth was levied on the Holy Land on all benefices above the yearly value of 10 marks. In December 1295 there was another protection with clause nolumus until Michaelmas, and in this list we find William de Byrlaco, parson of the churches of Warsop and Handesworth.
Richard de Sutton was succeeded by Stephen de Sutton, who died in 1290. Bishop Sutton of Lincoln granted an "indulgence for the sone of our cousin Stephen de Sutton, archdeacon of Northants, whose body lies in the prebendal church of Empingham. From the Patent Rolls Ed. II., we extract the following:—1304, May 4, Westminster. Licence upon fine for Richard de Sutton to grant in fee to his son John de Sutton and Margaret his wife, the manor of Theydow co. Essex, with the advowson of the church of that place, and the manor of Warsop co. Nottingham, with advowson of its church, all which he held in chief." In 1322 in the Patent Rolls we read that John de Sutton was prebendary of Carleton" Kyme in the church of St. Mary, Lincoln, and parson of the church of Warsop. At this time John de Somery was tenant in chief, with the exception of the advowson. The old church has looked down upon some strange scenes. We get a glimpse of the times from an entry in the Close Rolls of Edward II., dated July 12th, 1322: John de Doncaster, Lawrence de Cheworth and Robert Russell that William Cateby, during the late disturbance in the realm, to wit on Thursday, the eve of St. Gregory last, passed throughout the town of Warsop. At the ninth hour John do Feure, of Palterton, William de Colley, and others unknown, arrested and imprisoned him from then until vespers on Friday following when they took him outside the town and beheaded him by their own deed without cause, and that neither he nor any of his men had done any robbery or trespass in that country. What is more the inquisition states that Cateby was neither a rebel nor an enemy of the King, and his lands, goods, and chattels (in Lincolnshire) were ordered to be restored to his executors.
Later we come to the Ednestowe's occupation. In the Patent Rolls of Ed. III. is the following entry:—"1331, Oct. 28. Ratification of estate of Henry de Ednestowe, King's clerk, as prebendary of Carleton Kyme and Dalby, in the church of St. Mary, Lincoln, of the Patronage of the Bishop of Crophull, and Oxton, in the church of St. Mary, Southwell, of the patronage of the Archbishops of York, and of the prebend in Llandaff Cathedral lately held by Thos de Nevile, of the patronage of the Bishop, and as parson of the church of Warsop in the diocese of York of the patronage of John de Roos, Knight."
In the following year "the said church is void by the resignation of Henry de Edenstowe," but in 1334 "in consideration of the great place he holds and has long held in the chancery in the business of the King and people and his industry therein that whereas he holds lands in right of his prebend at Oxton and other lands in Warsop of his father's gift, he shall have for life, common pasture for all his cattle and sheep from such lands as are in the forest."
There are a number of brasses in the church to the memory of the Wild, or Wylde family, to whom the manor of Nettleworth formerly belonged. Gervase Wylde. who was probably the son of Wm. Wylde, who built the old hall in 1566, was a man of note in his day. In early life he was a merchant and resided in Andalusia. When England was threatened by the Spanish Armada he was living at Nettleworth, and at once hastened to place his services at the disposal of his sovereign. At his own cost he fitted out a ship and joined the English fleet. Upon his return home to Nettleworth he married Margaret, widow of Anthony Burgess, of Nottingham. In the State Papers of the reign of James I. there is a petition from Gervase Wylde to the Cou'ncil for continuance in his office as Muster Master for the counties of Notts. and Derbyshire. It appears that the appointment had been given to some other person on the ground that it was not desirable that one man should hold the office for both counties. The Lord Lieutenant and the Commissioners, however, favoured his petition, and his appointment was accordingly renewed. In another petition he asks to have his rights to a fee deer, and a fee tree restored to him, from which it would seem that at one time he was also a verderer of the Forest of Sherwood.
The following inscriptions on brasses to this family's memory may he seen in the church:—
William Wyld, the infant son of William Wyld, of Nettleworth, gent., died September 23rd, A.D. 1694:
Here in calm peace a sinless infant rests,
The sweet delight of heaven all in the dust doth lie;
Like to an angel from on high, sent down, he came,
And straightway to his blessed home returned.
"Here lieth the body of Hannah, the wife of William Wylde, of Nettleworth, who departed this life, the 5th day of May, in the year of our Lord 1773, aged 60 years." Also near this place "lieth the body of William Wylde, father of the above William Wylde, who died in the year 1696, aged 28 years." There are others to the memory of William Wylde, of Nettleworth, who departed this life, the 11th day of January, 1779, aged 82 years; to William Wylde, Esq., of Mansfield, eldest son of the late William Wylde, Esq., of Nettleworth, who died March llth, 1787, in the 53rd year of his age.
"Safe in the Hand of one Disposing Power
Or in the Natal or the Mortal Hour."
This tablet contains the arms of the family which were—Quarterly, first and fourth; or, a fesse between three bucks' heads, erased sable, attired gules; second and third, sable a chevron engrailed argent, on a chief of the last, three martlets of the field.
There are two other memorial brasses as follows:—
"Here lieth the body of Ann Wylde, sister of the above William wylde, who died Jan. llth, 1793, aged 60 years," and "Here lieth the body of Catherine Wylde, of Nettleworth, who died the 24th day of Nov., 1801, aged 61 years."
About ninety years ago Nettleworth changed hands and passed into the possession of Mr. Henry Gally Knight, who in 1846 bequeathed it, together with the manors of Warsop and Sookholme, to Sir Henry FitzHerbert, of Tissington, his kinsman. From a memoir of the Knight family we learn that Sir Ralph Knight was a descendant of an old Hampshire family that used to live at St. Denys, near Southampton. At the beginning of the Civil War he took a very active part on the side of the Parliament, and was present in more than one engagement, but after the death of Cromwell he changed sides, and as colonel under General Monk was instrumental in securing the restoration of Charles II. For his services on that occasion he afterwards received at the King's hand the honour of knighthood, as well as a large sum of money, part of which he spent in the purchase of the manor and advowson of Warsop.
Elizabeth Knight, Sir Ralph's granddaughter, who inherited the family estates in 1768 was married to the Rev. Henry Gally, D.D., a French Protestant divine, who fled to this country for refuge after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Her sons assumed the name of Gaily Knight. In 1846 Henry Gaily Knight, the last of the family, died. He was a man of most amiable and accomplished manners, states the present Rector of Warsop (the Rev. R. J. King), in a brochure he wrote more than 20 years ago. After finishing his university course at Cambridge where he made the acquaintance of Lord Byron, he went on a tour through the most interesting provinces of Turkey, and here it would seem he renewed his acquaintance with the author of Childe Harold, and warmed by the sympathy of a kindred spirit, conceived a series of Eastern tales, illustrative of the manners and customs of the countries he had travelled through. In 1819 he was High Sheriff for the county of Notts, and in this official capacity met the Judge at the Assizes accompanied by twelve of his own tenants, all clad in the Knight livery. On his return from a visit to Normandy he published a small octavo volume called: "An Architectural Tour in Normandy." In 1831 he was returned M.P. for Malton, and from 1835 to 1841 he represented the North Division of Notts. Dying without children he left a sum of £6,000 for the building of St. John's Church, Mansfield, and the whole of his Firbeck property, which realised between £65,000 and £70,000, to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for the building of churches, and parsonage houses, and for the augumen-tation of small livings. A brass tablet to his memory in Warsop Church bears the following inscription:—
"In memory of Henry Gaily Knight. Born 1786; died 1846. The dutiful son of a widow'd mother; a Poet as witnessed by her 'Portrait'; over sacred and classical ground a Traveller, a man of kindness, and Benefactor to his Church and kinsmen. To commemorate the restoration of this church, reopened July 13th, 1877, Sir William FitzHerbert has erected this tablet to a respected name in Warsop."
In the church tower there is a stone, neatly let into the wall, which bears date 1512. It formed part of an old floor which was discovered at the restoration of the church in 1877, and which stood some eighteen inches below the then' existing floor. It originally bore an engraving of the cross but very little of this, or of the inscription round the edge, now remains. The following, however, is quite plain—Hic ia + robertu . . . . . sabeturoris ems * anno do . . MDCCCCCXII. The Rector says to fill in the blanks is not very difficult, despite the fact that the wife's name is in the genitive case, and the man's in the nominative. In plain English the inscription probably was "Here lie Robert Roos and Elizabeth, his wife. In the year of the Lord Jesus Christ, 1512." The manor of Warsop belonged to the sister of Edmund, Lord, Roos, who died without lawful issue in 1508.
There is a handsome marble tablet in the tower which runs as follows:—"To the memory of a trusty servant, a loyal subject, a kind master, a faithful friend, a loving husband, and a good Christian. And now reader think not yt this is to ye memory of many, but wonder that 'tis to that of one. To yt of Mr. John Rolleston, of Rolleston, in Staffordshire, well born and well bred. Well knowne, and therefore well beloved by ye high and mighty William, late Ld. Duke of Newcastle, and his Noble Family; as having had ye honour of being his secretary when he himself had ye great one of being Governor to the Prince, afterwards King Charles the 2nd, as likewise that of secretary to ye Army under his Excellencies' command in ye late unhappy warrs. His approved honesty and ability in business rendered him highly useful to his Master and to his Country. Particularly to the former in ye management preservation of his Estate at a time when ye Government itself was too weak to preserve anything from Rapine and Ruine. The advantages rais'd to himself out of a long and meritorious service were almost entirely lost upon the declining fortune of ye Royal Party at Marston Moor, and yet his good service in ye end mett wh what he yalued above all ye honour of having been highly trusted and ye comfort of having honestly discharged ye trust. To ye many blessings of ye Man here remembered was added that of a long life, ye 22nd of December, 1681, in full hopes of a joyfull Resurrection to a much better. Erected as a monument of true love by his entirely beloved wife and sorrowfull widow, Mrs. Elizabeth Rolleston, now living in this Parish in MDCLXXXVI."
Oliver Dand (son of Francis Dand, of Mansfield Woodhouse) who was rector of Warsop all through the troublous time of the Commonwealth, was buried here, as a Latin inscription on a fine old brass tablet in the church states:—Sacred to the memory of Oliver Dand, Bachelor of Divinity, and formerly one of the Senior Fellows of St. John's College, Cambridge, Rector of this Church, and a vigorous Defender of the lately down-trodden cause of King and Religion, who after gaining many and honourable distinctions by his fidelity, zeal, and learning, was at length carried off by paralysis, May 4th, 1661, aged 55 years, and now lies here the ornament of his own tomb.
Heedful traveller would'st thou turn,
From the speaking stone in fright;
Know, a sacred herald's urn,
A voice to have is only right.
Brass tablets have been erected also to the memories of George and Thomas Fothergill: —Here lyeth the body of Master George Fothergill, whoe was Rector of Warsop twenty yeares whoe departed this life in the seventy six yeares of his age, the twenty-third of August, Anno Domini, 1683.