St. Mary's Church

St. Mary's Church

IT is impossible to say how many places of worship have stood upon the site now occupied by St. Mary’s Church.

A school of antiquarians believe that upon it stood a pagan temple long before Christianity reached the remote island of Britain. Others again talk of a church as standing here in Saxon times, and Domesday Book tells us of one at the time of the Conquest.

No trace whatever of these buildings, if they ever existed, remains, and in fact there is nothing above ground earlier than the fifteenth century.

The present nave is a magnificent example of the Perpendicular Style of architecture—a style which arose after the Black Death, and was confined to England.

It will be noticed that the chancel is much plainer than is the nave. This is owing to the fact that the living of St. Mary’s was impropriated to the Priory and Convent of Lenton, and the monks of that priory consequently became responsible for the upkeep of the chancel, while the congregation were responsible for the nave. The monks did not care to spend much money on the beautification of a chancel that most of them would never see.

The picture (here portrayed) that hangs behind the lectern is one of the art treasures of the Midlands. It was painted by the great Florentine artist, Fra Bartolomeo, the friend and pupil of Raphael, and the disciple of the great reformer Savanarola.

Era Bartolomeo flourished between 1475 and 1510, so that this picture is practically as old as is the nave of St. Mary’s Church.