The church of All Saints', Winthorpe, which we see today is virtually the third church that has been built on the site. Except perhaps for some of the stones now incorporated in the church-yard wall, nothing visible remains of the original church, and references in old Visitation records and documents concerning the benefice are all we have to go on. There may still be information hidden among diocesan papers or records in the York Registry, however.
In 1559 there was a Visitation to the Northern Province following the passing of the Act of Uniformity in the same year. The Commissioners were to examine the state of religion in the area, direct the clergy to agree to a set form of service (removing those who refused), enquire into the state of the fabric of churches and parsonages and lay down rules about the keeping of parish registers, etc. An enquiry was held at Nottingham and Southwell in August 1559, and the report declared of Winthorpe church that "their chauncell is uncoveryde" (i.e. roofless). This was not exceptional at the time, as Lowdham, Calverton, Staunton, West Drayton, Bevercotes and other local village churches were also reported to be in a state of disrepair.
Hardly any village churches were paved before the beginning of the seventeenth century, the floors being of earth strewn over with rushes, as was the old custom, or unevenly paved where there had been burials in the church. A Canon Law of 1603 provided that aisles should be paved, that seats, instead of being dotted about wherever their wealthy owners thought fit, should be cut down to a uniform height and face the same way, and that the Holy Table should be placed against the east wall of the chancel. (In many churches it had become the custom to set the altar lengthways in the nave, with the congregation seated or standing all round it.) There was much opposition to some of these regulations, and fines were imposed on churchwardens who failed to carry out the necessary alterations. Nottinghamshire was the last part of the diocese to receive attention, and in a Visitation at Easter 1639 the pulpit at Winthorpe was declared to be "unsatisfactory," but it seems to have been put right before the end of the year. However, fines were imposed on the churchwardens at the Visitations of 1635 (£4), 1636 (£3) and 1637 (£4) for some neglect of their duties.
It was during the Civil War in 1645 and 1646 that the church was severely damaged while the village was occupied by the Parliamentarians. One engraving of the time by the engineer Richard Clamp of the siege plan of Newark seems to show the ruins of Winthorpe church just outside the village. Describing the consecration of the present church in 1888, a Newark Advertiser reporter states that the church was knocked down during the Civil War and that a redoubt was built on the site. He goes on to say that when the builders were excavating for "the present structure," the steps on which the cannon used to stand and quantities of damaged gunpowder were found. The skeletons of some hundred's of men, buried in rows and evidently without coffins were also found. Certainly the church stands on a rise, which could command the approach to Newark, but whether it was deliberately destroyed or was damaged in the fighting, it is difficult to tell.
At this time the living of Winthorpe was still held by the Crown, as it had been since 1554, and it is interesting to note that after the Restoration - indeed, not until 1672 - Charles 11, in belated recognition of the loyalty shown by Newark to his father, presented the living to the Mayor and Aldermen of Newark.
It was probably during the upheaval caused by the Civil Wars and by military occupation that many old records and documents were lost or destroyed. Winthorpe like Kelham, which was occupied by the Scots) has no parish documents, which date before the late seventeenth century. After the war it must be supposed that some kind of patching-up of the ruined church took place and church life was resumed. The earliest parish register, bought in 1718, contains entries of baptisms from 1687 and of burials and marriages from 1697 and 1698 which appear to have been copied from an earlier book which has not survived.
It is from the churchwardens' accounts that we might expect to learn something about the rebuilding of the damaged church, but the earliest surviving account books date only from 1790, and the earliest Terriers (inventory of church property and possessions) from 1719. These are in the County archives.
There are a few bills and receipts remaining in the parish chest which date from the 1770's, and among them are two relating to the church, which are interesting :-
1775. Mr. Christopher Morley
Bought of John Peart
ye 25 Feb: 1 sett of Belropes 12s.6d
(This bill is inscribed on the outside: Peart Roper.)
The second bill is more unusual:
By the Order of Mr. Morley
To Jas. Tomlinson
1776. Feb. 10. Judas Maccobeus Folio £2.5.0
(inscribed on the outside: Tomlinson Bookseller.)
Mr. Christopher Morley was one of the churchwardens of the time.
In 1779 Roger Pocklington, the owner of Winthorpe Hall and then at the height of his prosperity, undertook some major repairs of the patched-up church. The church tower had fallen and it was rebuilt in 1779. There was a stone tablet set into the new tower and inscribed: "This steeple was rebuilt in the year 1779; the first stone was laid on the 15th April by Roger Pocklington Junior, of this parish, aged 3 years 8 months and four days." This tablet was removed when the present church was built and stood for some time against the south wall of the churchyard.
The church must at this stage have looked much as it did when Howlett made his drawings of eleven views in Winthorpe in 1807, and Hage's description of the outside and inside of the church in 1823 corresponds closely both with this view and with the view of the interior drawn by J.D. Curtis and reproduced with Hage's letter, both of them bound in with the volume "Newark and Newark Castle" in Newark Museum.
Henry Hage writes :-
"Close to the high road from Newark stands the Church; some parts of the structure are of considerable age, but the greater part is modern, the north side and the chancel being rebuilt of brick in 1778. The tower is of brick with cornices of stone, and is surmounted with a handsome stone ballustrade, (sic) bearing at each corner an elegant urn; on a stone tablet, about halfway up the tower is this inscription .... (quoted above)....The interior of this Church is of very singular construction, its roofing being uncommonly low; in the chancel is a mural monument to the memory of Dr. Robert Taylor, the founder of Winthorpe Hall" etc. (The entire letter is quoted in the account of Winthorpe Hall.)
There are in the accounts items that might be expected:-
To three times washing the linen - 7 - 6d
(reduced to twice a year after 1805)
Window mending - 1 - 4d
Besam and flanel for church - 4d
Cleaning the walks etc. in the churchyard - 3 - 0
But among these and similar items, grave-digging, chimney sweeping and a variety of church repairs, the following have unusual interest :-
1831. King's Coronation allowed ringers - 10 - 0
The bell-ringers had a regular allowance of 4/- paid half-yearly for ale, but this was evidently a money-payment. (This occasion was William 1V's coronation.)
1847. March. Bread and wine to be used )
on the 24th being the day appointed for a )
General Fast and Day of Humiliation to ) - 4 - 0
Almighty God on acc. of the Famine in )
1852. Oct.19. Jas. Kirkby for tolling a )
Bell on the day of the Funeral of the ) - 2 - 6
Duke of Wellington )
During the nineteenth century the patronage of the living of Winthorpe, which had been mortgaged earlier by Newark Corporation to Richard Twells and bought in 1739 by Dr. Taylor, passed to the Pocklingtons and then to the Rev. Robert Rastall in 1810, and so to the Handley family, prominent landowners in Muskham and in Newark, of whom two were rectors of Winthorpe, the Rev. William Handley from 1836 - 1873, and the Rev. Edward Handley from 1886 - 1895.
On succeeding to the living, the Rev. Edward Handley decided that the fabric of the church was in too bad a state to retain any longer. "It possessed no beauty nor security." He therefore built an entirely new church in memory of his father Mr. Philip Handley of Muskhan Grange who, with many members of the family "are interred in a vault beneath the vestry." Several tablets commemorating his relatives are still to be seen in the vestry, including a memorial to Mr. William Farnsworth Handley of Newark, a magistrate who represented Newark in parliament for many years.
The Rev. Edward Handley's memorial church is the one we see today, red-brick and Victorian-Gothic in style. (The architect was Sidney Gambier Parry.) It is slightly larger than the previous one, but follows in part the lines of the old. The nave and chancel occupy the same position, but the west tower of the old church was replaced by a baptistery, and the new tower, the north aisle, the organ chamber, the vestry and the east-end of the chancel occupy new ground.
Writing some twenty years later, the Rev. Clement Griffith describes the ruinous state of the old church and goes on to commend the Rev. Edward Handley's generosity in rebuilding the church at a personal cost to him of £7,000. At the same time, gifts were made by other donors of windows and extra bells, and during Mr. Griffith's rectorate a new organ was installed, a new treble bell added, and a brass eagle lectern was given in memory of the Rev. Capel Sewell who had lived in the parish.
It seems rather sad that all the Pocklington memorials are hidden away behind the organ and consequently are difficult to read, and that Dr. Taylor's memorial is in a cupboard in the vestry. The reredos was painted and gilded during the 1930's, and recently the inside of the church was repainted, principally the chancel. Inside the porch there is a beautiful stone boss, which appears to be the one shown in the centre arch in the Curtis drawing of 1823 of the interior of the old church. This stone boss may perhaps have been part of the original church; it would be nice to think so. The painting of the royal coat-of-arms which appears above the altar in the same drawing dates from the reign of George 111, and at present hangs in the Village Hall; it may relate to Dr. Robert Taylor who was for a time Physician-in-Ordinary to George 111.
The Rev. Clement Griffith notes in 1896 that "a charming apparatus has been ordered which, being affixed to our five bells, would enable one man or boy to chime all the bells for the various services." This "apparatus" is still used every Sunday. The new brick church tower needed repairs as early as 1909, and the brickwork has had much attention since then. Extensive repairs to the spire were carried out quite recently.
As stones, bricks and mortar and possessions alone do not give a complete picture of the church, what about church life over the years? Undoubtedly All Saints' has had its devoted servants from the village, and names of churchwardens often appear also as Commissioners of the Poor, Trustees of Brewer's Charity, members of school boards, etc., family names which recur over generations in village records of all kinds, and individuals who served as churchwardens for twenty years or more.
The early figures are shadowy and there is little we can gather in precise terms of church life in the village before about 1780. The early accounts and minutes of Vestry Meetings refer not only to church matters but also to village affairs, which were later to become the business of the parish council. The churchwardens were elected annually and often held secular offices as well, since particularly in the earlier days they were usually among the few villagers who were literate or who had sufficient time to devote to these duties.
When we come nearer to our own time, at the turn of the twentieth century we have in the Parish Magazines a closer look at church activities, at a time too, when the village was a small community, turned inward for many of its interests, entertainment and pleasures, and when most of the villages earned a living in and around the village.
In addition to the usual weekly services in the church, Sunday school was held morning and afternoon, and there were always extra services held for special church festivals. There was a branch of the C.E.M.S. and one of the Mothers' Union; there was also a Women's Meeting, a small group of G.F.S., a Parochial Library (which was housed in the Village Hall), a Clothing and Boot Club for the Sunday School, and also a Young Women's Bible Class. The Women's Meeting regularly made and presented gifts of clothing to charities such as the Waifs and Strays or the N.S.P.C.C. These different groups probably overlapped, and sometimes the membership did not amount to more than six or eight, but it is evident that there was some kind of church organisation to suit every age group. There was a choir, and although we do not know how many men there were, it had about six boys to sing, at one stage the Rev. Clement Griffith proposed to pay four choristers and have another two boys unpaid but "under training."
We often think that in the past church services were always well-attended and that there was no need to exhort the faithful to come; but there seems to have been come apathy even in the nineteen hundreds, as the following extracts suggest :-
August 1900: "Here as elsewhere many of the newly confirmed grow irregular. Here as elsewhere parents seem often careless of the religious training of their children, themselves, neglecting to give precept and example. So in a way mistresses stand to maids in the place of parents. Certainly the granting opportunity by domestic arrangement to the maids to attend church is entirely in the hands of a mistress. It is a misfortune to the maid where this is not granted nor given, for then the careless grow more so, excusing themselves by ‘their betters' ways."
Nov. 1903: "On the road to Church on Sundays at 8 a.m. all the blinds are down. Coming back they are up, for then the animal nature is anxious about breakfast."
However, there was always a number of devoted workers, churchwardens, organist, bellringers, cleaners, ladies who then, as now, decorated the church for the great festivals:
Oct. 1900: Harvest Festival. "The Church had been beautifully decorated with that taste and care which never fails the ladies who undertake it. The festal music was brightly sung, much to the credit of choir and organist."
Jan. 1901: "Beautiful at all time, still more so did our Church look in its Christmas decoration of flowers and evergreens arranged with wonted skill."
Mr. Griffith also mentions that during these years (and until about 1914) "the head gardeners of Winthorpe, with their employers' consent, took pride in supplying flowers for the altar, in turn, month by month." In 1900 also, "On Easter Day there was used for the first time an exquisitely embroidered white linen altar cloth, presented by Mrs. Marsland, worked at her order by Spanish ladies in Teneriffe. Few churches possess such a glory of stitchery as this specimen." All Saints' Church has no great treasures from the past, and this is one of the few occasions when the gift of anything unusual is recorded.
Although many of the church groups described by the rector no longer exist, we still have a number of them. Today the choir includes girls as well as boys and men, and in this connection it is interesting to find that in 1944 members of the A.T.S. at Winthorpe Hall were "giving a lead with the singing on Sunday evenings at Church," practising twice a week to do so. There is still a flourishing branch of the Mothers' Union and a well-attended Sunday school. Nowadays, Sunday school "treats" of the old kind are less popular then they were, and Mr. Griffith has a lively account of one summer outing which may serve as an example of the simple pleasures of village life in Edwardian days :-
August 23rd 1900: "Sunday School children, teachers and members of the Young Women's Bible Class packed themselves comfortably into two large pair-horse brakes and with flags flying and horn blowing started few knew whither. Away to Newark, causing quite a sensation in Northgate, Castlegate, Lombard Street, London Road and Balderton, then on through Barnby at a spanking pace and glorious weather till Beckingham was reached, where all alighted at the Rectory where the Rev. J.H. and Mrs. Becke cordially welcomed the party. Games etc. were quickly begun in the cricket ground while various large hampers were carried from the brakes to the Rectory garden, where under the trees tables and forms were set ready for us. Soon tea was ready. Afterwards more games etc. till 6.30 when, after cheers for the Rev. and Mrs. Becke, brakes were again packed for the return journey. Winthorpe via Coddington was reached about 7.30, and a most enjoyable and enviable treat was numbered among the things that have been."
In more recent times the choir, Sunday school, together with teachers and parents, have often visited the pantomime at Nottingham for their Christmas celebration.
In 1962, a Christian Stewardship campaign was successfully launched which has helped in some measure with the increasing burden of day-to-day expenses of running the church,
One of the more unexpected by-products of the campaign which had, at the inaugural dinner party, brought together not only church-goers but also many villagers of other denominations, was the institution of a discussion club for men, under the chairmanship of the Rev. Dillwyn Davies. The men meet once a month in any neighbouring hostelry where a meal and a private room can be provided, and a theme is suggested, initiated by one speaker, and then thrown open for discussion. The club has continued to thrive and it is not limited to church members.
At this moment, March 1971, Winthorpe is without a rector. Mr. Davies having moved to Mansfield Woodhouse. The rota of visiting clergy is organised by Canon Kingsnorth, but the church is cared for at village level by the two churchwardens, Mr. W. Packe and Mr. K. Bark, the latest in a long line of churchwardens of whom, among the earliest recorded in a Winthorpe Church document, were Henry Penman, Robert Shaw and Thomas Horner, who signed the church terrier of 1714 as churchwardens.
(From notes by the Rev. Clement Griffith, churchwardens' accounts, church registers, terriers in the County archives, and parish magazines.)
RECTORS OF WINTHORPE ALL SAINTS'
1229 Dns. Robert de Stretton. Cap.
1282 Dns. Richard de Thistleton. Pbr.
1293 Dns. Alanus de Neusom. Subd.
1302 M. Thomas de Broghton. Pbr.
1321 Dns. John de Beckingham. Acol. (resigned)
1326 M. Robert Neusome. Acol. (died)
1361 Dns. Robert de Driffield. Cap. (resigned)
1375 Dns. John de Scardburgh.
Dns. Robert Riston. Pbr. (resigned)
1396 Dns. John Benet. Cap. (resigned)
1404 Dns. John Porter. Pbr.
Dns. William Ousteby. Pbr. (died)
1485 M. John Neuton. Decr.B. (died)
1521 Dns. Rad. Draper. Pbr. (died)
1540 Dns. John Gonaston. Pbr. (deprived)
1554 Dns. William Hallyday. Cl.
1556 Dns. Richard Hill. Cl. (resigned)
1568 Dns. Thomas Beckingham. Cl. (resigned)
1574 Marmaduke Vincent. Cl. (died)
1576 Nicholas Hugh. Cl. (died)
Roger Bacon. Cl. (died)
1628 John Chapman. Cl.
Thomas Slater. Cl. Ore signed)
1662 John Conde. Cl. (died)
1665 Francis Leake. Cl. M.A. (died)
1671 John Ormsbye. Cl.
1711 Thomas Heron. M.A. (resigned)
1719 Bernard Wilson. M.A. (died)
1772 Robert James Clay. M.A. (resigned)
1773 Samuel Rastall. (resigned)
1778 William Rastall. (resigned)
1818 Robert Rastall. (resigned)
1836 William Handley. (died)
1873 Horatio Giles. Symonds (died)
1881 W.M. Bone. (resigned)
1886 Edward Handley. M.A. (died)
1895 Clement W.H. Griffith. M.A. (resigned)
1918 Gresham F. Gillett. M.A. (resigned)
1939 C.E. Ryecart. Hon. C.F.
1950 B.F. Houghton. B.A. (resigned)
1962 Dillwyn Davies. (resigned)
1971 Herbert W. Langford. B.A. (resigned)
1988 John L. Smith. M.A. (retired)
1996 Anthony Keeble Shaw. (retired)
2005* James Healy. (retired) * Priest in Charge.
2006* David Milner.
PATRONS OF WINTHORPE ALL SAINTS'
1229 Prior and Chapter of Ellesham.
1554 The Crown.
1672 Mayor and Aldermen of Newark.
1739 Dr. Robert Taylor.
1765 Roger Pockington.
1810 Rev. Samuel Rastall.
1836 John Handley.
1880 Phillip Handley.
1895 Keble College, Oxford.
(Lists copied from those in the Church)
Answers to Archbishop Herring's Visitation. 1743
(Yorks. Arch. Soc. LXXVII)
1. There are 39 Families in this Parish, and one Anabaptist.
11. We have no licens'd, or other Meeting House in this Parish.
111. There is no Publick or Charity School endowd or maintained in this Parish.
1V. (No almshouse or hospital: Close of £4-10-0 for repair of church; other lands of £8 value for benefit of Poor, besides the interest of £13 paid every half year.)
V. I do not reside Personally upon this Cure, but on my other Cure at Newark, which is a Mile distance from it.
V1. I have no Residing Curate; but the Duty is performed partly by myself and partly by one of my Curates residing at Newark.
V11. (Paid 5/- every Sunday plus a gift of 5 guineas every half year.)
V111. The Publick Service is read in the Church most commonly on Holy Days, and is duly performed once every Lord's Day, and never oftener in my Predecessor's Time, neither is the Living of that Value, as to afford the Maintenance of a residing Curate to perform it oftener.
1X. (Catechism during Lent: the Parishioners do not duly send their Children and Servants to be instructed by me.)
X. Holy Communion 3 times a year: 20 Communicants in the parish: 16 communicated at Easter last.
B. Wilson (Rector)
(Also Vicar of Newark)
Extracts recorded by Mr. N.H. Bennett.
Note :- Answer No. IV is interesting, as the existing Brewer's Charity records do not date back so far.
Further readings can be found in
The Bells of All Saints' Church in Volume 3.
Winthorpe Church - Property - 1764 in Volume 4.
Consecration of All Saints' Church, Winthorpe in Volume 4.
The Churches at Winthorpe in Volume 4.
Winthorpe Church Windows in Volume 4.
Memorials in All Saints' Church, Winthorpe in Volume 4.
All Saints' Church Bells, Winthorpe in Volume 4.