Clifton Church

Clifton Church

Nottingham, and its church of St. Mary, standing in its quiet churchyard hard by the beautifully situated Clifton Hall, is of very great interest. Portions of it are very old, indeed, dating back to the late eleventh century and to the days before King John had signed the Magna Charta. The church is cruciform in plan with a central tower, a somewhat unusual design for this part of the country, and at the western end of the nave will be found a beautiful stone crucifix which after being hidden for generations in the ivy into which it had fallen, was set up again in its original place about 20 years ago.

The roof of the chancel is a beautiful example of timber work, and was set up in 1503 by the Rev. Robert Yole, whose portrait is carved on the roof and may be seen facing east just over the chancel arch. In 1478 the Chapel of the Holy Trinity was founded in the north transept, though this foundation seems to have been somewhat in the nature of regularising a position which already existed, for in 1349 leave was given to Cervase de Clifton to establish a chantry of three priests to hold daily service here. This community of Chantry Priests seems to have been enriched and extended at the new foundation in 1478.

In 1349 there were even then Cliftons at Clifton, just as to-day ! Moreover, even in 1349 they were an old and established family, for Alveridus de Clifton was a man of importance in the days, 850 years ago , when Peveril built Nottingham Castle. Many of these bygone Cliftons are commemorated in the Chapel of the Holy Trinity and their effigies and the brasses which commemorate them are both beautiful and interesting.

The most remarkable of the Cliftons was Gervase, who was born in 1587. His father had died a few months before his birth, leaving the baby Gervase the sole hope of the Clifton family. Well, the baby boy lived to nearly eighty years old, and he married seven times!—so the family did not become extinct.

He was a great favourite and served in eight Parliaments. He was known far and wide for his generosity and hospitality, and here is a list of the preparations for a dinner in 1530 :

  3 hogsbeads of wine. 8 cranes ,
  2 oxen, 16 herons ,
  12 swans 10 bitterns,
  60 couples of rabbits, 36 capons,
  10 pigs, 6 wethers,
  7 calves, Many wild fowl,
  7 lambs, 6 pounds of pepper.
  4 dozen chickens,  
  Sugar ginger, currants, prunes, dates, raisins, cinnamon,cloves, mace, saffron, isinglass, caraways, liquorice, aniseed, green-ginger sucket orange buds, orange syrup, besides marmalade, comfits and biskits.