The church porch with Nan Scott's chamber above.
The church porch with Nan Scott's chamber above.

If you can climb the short narrow winding staircase through the door near the font you will come to the chamber over the porch, though it now contains nothing of interest save an eighteenth-century chest and the fifteenth-century oak door.

It was doubtless built for the priest either as a living room or school, but more probably as a strong room, sacristy and retiring chamber. People in earlier ages were smaller than we are and the stairs were thus easier to negotiate.

There is a legend that during the Great Plague, which came to Newark in 1666, Nan Scott left her house in Holme and fled to this room where she lived away from infection for several weeks, watching from the windows her friends' funerals in the churchyard. When forced to visit her house for fresh supplies she found the parish deserted by all save herself and one other, and was so horrified at the result of the Plague that she returned to the chamber and there ended her days.

This Solar may have housed a recluse in the days before the Plague, and this may give rise to the legend. Be this as it may, there was here, till nearly 1800, a table of a size to show it had been made within the chamber, and some clothing also remained till the same date.


Seven fine coats of arms adorn the porch and perhaps were inserted by the Founder's descendant Robert. The family had become rich and he desired to display the good family alliances they were able to make.

From left to right they are:—

Barton and Ratcliffe impaling Assheton and Leigh.
At sides—R.B. (Robert Barton, 1524-80).
Below—Two sprigs of oak (Barton crest).

Stanhope impaling Molineux.
At sides—J.S. (Sir John Stanhope and wife Catherine Molyneux who married 1st Sir Ralph Ratcliffe, the daughter of which married the founder's son).
Below—Two oak leaves.

Barton, i.e., Gernon in wife's right.
At sides—J.B., an oak sprig, a dolphin embowed.
Below—An oak sprig, 2 bears and tuns (Barton crest and rebus).

Staple of Calais.
At sides—A falcon perched, 2 dolphins embowed.
Below—2 rams rampant, an oak sprig.

Barton Trade Mark.
At sides—J.B. (the Founder).
Below—2 bales of wool each bearing 3 estoiles of 6 points in fesse.

Barton impaling Bingham.
At sides—J.B.
Below—2 oak leaves.

Barton impaling Ratcliffe, Leigh and Assheton.
At sides—R.B.
Below—2 oak sprigs.


1. 1 and 4 Azure, on a fesse between 3 buck's heads cabossed Or, a mullet Sable (Barton).
2 and 3.—Argent, 2 bends engrailed Sable (Ratcliffe).
5 and 8.—Argent, a mullet pierced Sable (Assheton).
6 and 7.—Gules, a cross engrailed Argent (Leigh).

2. Sable, a bend between 6 cross crosslets Argent (Stanhope, also Longvilliers).
Argent, a cross moline quarter pierced Or (Molineux).

3. Azure, on a fesse between 3 bucks' heads cabossed Or, a mullet Sable (Barton).

4. Barry nebulee of 6 Argent and Azure, on a chief Gules a lion passant guardant Or (Calais Staple).

5. Argent, a merchant's mark Sable, 2 triangles meeting by their apexes in centre, from which issues a cross patee; at the base is an annulet (trade mark).

6. As No. 3 (Barton).
Or, on a fesse Gules, 3 water bougets Ermine (Bingham).

7. As No. 1. 1 and 4 Barton. 2 and 5 Leigh. 3 and 6 Assheton.
The holy water stoup, partly blocked up, has been opened out and the old roof beams were revealed after removing a plaster ceiling.


The porch has two heads on the hood mould, a larger head and arms of a man in a hat at one corner and two grotesque beasts fighting at the other corner.

Along the south nave wall are: an unusual lion with his tail between his legs (evidently not British!); two grotesque faces as spout heads; a double Tudor rose with leaves and stem; and at the south-east corner of the Lady Chapel, a really fine cowled monk praying.

The artist who drew the sketches for this book told me how struck she was by the fact that all the faces were cheerful!

At the east end of the chapel are two angels with blank- shields, on the hood moulds. Similarly placed on the chancel are male and female heads. Between chapel and chancel is a very good cowled figure supporting his head on one hand while he leans against the wall with the other!

The tower window has two more angels with shields of the Calais Staple Arms and the Barton Trade Mark, which is also on the northern buttress in a panel.

The aisle west window has yet another angel with plain shield and an exceedingly comic fellow in a hat very much like a 'Topper'.

The brick buttresses are eighteenth-century work to support the heavy outward lean of the north wall, which is banded with Maplebeck stone to make a pattern.


Built in the Decorated style between 1250 and 1350 with Perpendicular window and buttresses added about 1485. The tracery of the window is debased Tudor with plain curved heads instead of elaborate designs. It is the forerunner of the straight ends which came in with Elizabeth.

The spire is broached and has four peculiar human-faced cats' heads upon long necks.

The spire windows are Decorated.

The west doors were rarely used except for the Palm Sunday Procession when they were opened after the question, 'Who is the King of Glory?' was answered by the waiting procession outside, which entered carrying palms (i.e., willow and box) as is still done in many churches to this day.


There were three historic bells until 1907 when under Rev. C. M. Griffith of Winthorpe two were melted and sold to save the parish paying to mend the remaining one. They saved a mere £40 and the action was deplorable, especially at so recent a date

The destroyed bells were:—

1. Founders Mark of Henry Oldfield the second of Nottingham (1582-1620). Inscription, '+ Raufe Barton EsQuier give this bell +1592', with border of Scorns and oakleaves below. Ralph Barton, a descendant of the Founder, was Warden of North Muskham in the Armada year, and died and was buried at Holme in the year he gave this bell.

3. Founder's Mark of George Oldfield, 1620-1680. Inscription, 'God save the Church, 1657', with narrow vine border between the words. The prayer for the Church is noteable in Commonwealth times when the Church was suppressed and persecuted.

The one left is : —

2. By Thomas Newcombe of Leicester (1562-1580). Inscription, 'Tobias' in Lombardic capitals. Mr. H. B. Walters, the British Museum bell expert, says, 'Thomas Newcombe frequently inscribes his bells with the names of saints in this fashion, to which he doubtless thought there would be no objection so long as they were not accompanied by "ora pro nobis''. It is the only recorded bell to St. Tobias'.


The object of the Staple was the collection of custom duties by fixing the places at which it could be exported. Wool was England's staple product. From Richard I's time to 1558 all wool for export had to be sent to Calais where it was checked and the 'invoice' subsequently agreed with another issued at the English port of departure when the customs were paid. This prevented smuggling. Any other port than Calais had to be specially licensed.

The merchants were bound by statute to be governed by the Mayor and two Constables of the Staple. The Mayor was not necessarily the Town Mayor but was annually elected by the Commonalty of merchants trading in the town. His duty was to keep the peace and seal the weighed bales of wool. Boston was the Staple Port for Holme.

The Staple Merchants were a wealthy trading corporation with their own coat of arms, which appears many times in the church.