Tucked away in quiet corners of our countryside are little gems of history. Some are ancient, some not so, but the village church so often tells the story of the whole village. The very reason for the village being there, the part played by the great and famous, or by some benefactor who naturally gathered a community round him initially to serve his own establishment. So a church would be built and become the repository of the stories of every family. It is usually a very human story but it also has much to say of the ancient faith of our land and people.
In these pages you will find just a gem. Not as ancient as some but preserved with love and care. It is hoped that it will be more than a tale of days gone by but will inspire and enlighten future generations of the people of Winthorpe.
When the Domesday Book was compiled, 1086-7, Wymun' thorpe was a settlement in the Newark Wapentake, under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Lincoln. Over the door of Wymun's home would probably be the skull and antlers of a stag to ward off evil spirits, for settlers of Scandinavian origin were heathen worshippers. The first mention of a church comes about a hundred years later, when "Walter de Amundevill, eldest son of Jolanus and Beatrix his wife, gave the church of Winthorpe, with that of Kinerby and some others to the Hospital of Ellesham in the County (Lincolnshire), which his said mother, Beatrix began to found...." Jolanus lived approximately 1150-1206, and Winthorpe remained under The patronage of Ellesham for approximately three hundred years. The first known Rector was Robert de Stretton, 1229.
Little is known of our first church. At the visit of the Queen's Commissioners to Southwell on 24th June 1559, the report said "At Winthorpe the Chancel was uncovered," (had no roof). The Commissioners were Edward, Earl of Derby, Thomas, Earl of Northumberland, William, Lord Evers, Edward Sandys, D.D. and Henry Harvey, L.L.D. The last two did most of the work. On Aug. 24th of that year when the visitors were at Southwell, it was reported that, Winthorpe has no incumbent and was sequestrated. Clergy failing to appear included Winthorpe and absentees were pronounced "contumacious." By 1638, at the Archbishop's visitation, the church was in an even worse condition. "The Chancel windowes are almost daubed up with stone and morter, the roof of the Chancel is open in many parts and the upper end of the Chancel floore betwixt the East wall and the rayle is unpaved, and the rest not even paved. The Communion table is very old and rotten, all the stalls in the bodye of the Church are undecent and ununiform and not boarded nor paved underfoote, there is but one Communion booke and that defective, there wants a Chest with three locks and keyes, The Northside of the church wants pointinge, the two Church doores are very old and rotten, the belfray is full of rubbish, the font hath not a decent Cover, the churchyard gate is not sufficient."
From 1628-35, John Chapman was Rector and after him Thomas Slater, for whom no dates are given. Before 1628 Roger Bacon, friend of Thomas Brewer was Rector. Brewer's Will of 1616 indicated a flourishing farming community. Four years earlier Stephen Crosby left twelve pence to each of six ringers. In both wills churchwardens were mentioned. Surely someone had repaired the chancel roof between 1559 and the appointment of Roger Bacon, who preceded John Chapman but what happened after that to leave the church almost a ruin in 1638?
Richard Clampe's Siege Plan of 1646 shows the church a ruin. Was this due to war action? When our present church was being built the steps on which a cannon used to stand and quantities of gun-powder were found. The skeletons of some hundreds of men, buried in rows, without coffins were also found.
By 1775 an undamaged church was drawn by S. Buck and Thoroton's History of Nottinghamshire tells in 1779 of the church, "not long since built." Hage writing in 1823, gives the following description:-
"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 sideof the chancel being built of brick in 1778. The tower is of brick with cornices of stone and is surmounted with a handsome stone balustrade bearing at each corner an elegant urn; halfway up the tower is the inscription, 'This steeple was rebuilt in the year 1779; The first stone was laid on 15th April by Roger Pocklington, junior of this parish, aged 3 years 8 months and four days'."
Two engravings of the second church hang in the present vestry. The earliest, undated, shows a small chancel, with a window on the east wall showing Christ and below a Latin inscription, which is very indistinct. The walls on either side of this centrepiece are at an angle. Two memorials are on the left side, (now behind the organ). From the ceiling hangs a wooden candelabra for six candles and three box pews are on either side. The altar has embroidered cloths and to the right is a wooden chair, still in the present church, also a communion table on the left.
The second engraving, dated 1823, shows an extended east end. The coat of arms in the centre top position, hangs on the south wall today, and the stonework forming the centre of the chancel arch is in the church porch. The church was rebuilt 1778-9, but a hundred years later it was decided to enlarge this second church and J. Foley of Louthdrew up plans. A north aisle was to be added, the tower was to have stairs to the belfry, the font was to be just insidethe door near the west wall, (it was originally on the left sideof the chancel arch and the pulpit on the right side), and the vestry was to be slightly enlarged with adjoining it, an organ chamber. The south side of the church shows two chimney stacks, one in the centre of the nave wall and the other in the chancel, so there must have been solid fuel heating. Why were this plan abandoned and an entirely different church begun in 1886?
In June 1888, when the new church was completed the Newark Advertiser wrote:-
"The old church possessed no points of beauty or even security, and threatened at any time to have fallen on the heads of the congregation. On the Rev. Edward Handley succeeding to the advowson, he determined to remove this structure and build an entirely new church in memory of the late Mr. Philip Handley, of Muskham Grange, who with many members of his family are interred in the vault beneath the vestry."
The new building began in August 1886 and Sir Henry Bromley of Stoke laid the foundation stone, on All Saints Day, the 1st of November. The new church, though considerably larger than the building, which formerly occupied the site, follows in part the line of the church it replaced. The nave and chancel occupy precisely the same position as the old, but the west tower of the old church was replaced by the baptistry and the new tower, north aisle, organ chamber, vestry and east end of the chancel were erected on new ground. The building was almost entirely of red brick. Ancaster stone was used for the window copings and moulded string courses externally, while internally red Mansfield stone was prominently used. The tower surmounted by a brick spire, rising to a height of 105 ft. occupied a position at the north-west corner of the building, the lower part of the tower forming the entrance porch. A winding staircase leads to the belfry, where two new bells, the gift of Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Branston were added to the three old ones. The passages were all tiled and the spaces under the pitchpine seats were paved with wooden blocks. A congregation of 166 persons could be seated. The roofs, also of pitch pine, were of open timber construction. The nave was lighted by three two-light windows, two of which had stained glass at the time of consecration, 1888. The font was built of Ancaster and red Mansfield stone, the cover being in the form of a spirelet, of light wrought iron work. The same firm, Messrs. Shrivell of Longacre, also made the screen. The upper part of the pulpit, the altar and altar-piece were carved by Messrs. Earp of Lambeth. The latter shows scenes and characters from the Old and New Testaments, while the altar itself was made of walnut wood and red Devonshire marble. The altar panels and all the stained glass were from the studios of Messrs. Heaton, Butler and Bayne. No brickwork is seen in the chancel, as it was originally intended to colour this part of the church. The tiles of the chancel floor contain monograms, crowns and palm branches symbolising All Saints and were made by Messrs. Carter and Johnson of Worcester. The chalice and flagon, altar cross and ornaments were the work of Messrs. Barkentin and Krall of London. The same firm also made the wrought iron lectern, pulpit and desk, gas standards and brackets. The choir stalls were made to accommodate twelve boys and ten men and there were two prayer desks for clergy. The organ was from Messrs. Fincham's works, Listen Road, London. Memorial tablets from the old church were erected behind the organ, while memorials in the vestry indicate all the Handleys buried in the family vault. The whole church was heated by hot water from a heating chamber under the west end of the nave. Mr. John Howitt of Newark completed this work. Mr. Bousfield of Newark carried out the gas fittings. The architect was Mr. Sidney Gambier - Parry of Connaught Mansions, Victoria Street, Westminster.
The Consecration Service was on June 19th 1888. The Bishop of Southwell was ill and the Bishop of Lincoln deputised for him. The service commenced at 11 o'clock, ticket holders only being admitted. The organist, Mr. H. J. Davis came from Bath, so did Mr. Chacey, the crossbearer. Four trebles and a bass from St. Mary's, Bath augmented the choir. There were twenty clergy present from Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, and four others, (names only). In the actual procession the clergy were led by the churchwardens carrying new staves and followed by the Rev. Edward Handley, the curate in charge the Rev. W. C. Leeper, the venerable the Archdeacon of Nottingham, the Rev. Montague Noel of St. Barnabas, Oxford, (acting as the Bishop's Chaplain), and the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Lincoln. As the procession passed up the nave the hymn, "All people that on earth do dwell," was sung. The Bishop had a temporary throne on the north side of the altar. The Rector read the petition of consecration, to which the Bishop responded, "We gladly grant the prayer of this petition, and pray it may be to the glory of God and the edification of the people." The psalm, "The earth is the Lord's and all that therein is," was sung as the Bishop with attendant clergy processed to the font, chancel, body of the church, lectern, pulpit and finally the altar which were blessed. Finally his Lordship from his chair, delivered the sentence of Consecration to the Registrar of the Diocese, who, habited in wig and gown, moved to the chancel steps and read it to the congregation. It was then taken back to the Bishop for signature and by him ordered to be registered in the Registry of the Diocese. The Order for the celebration of Holy Communion followed. The vesper lights and Eucharistic lights were lit during this service, all-illuminating the cross set with crystals. The Bishop's sermon, from 29th chapter of the First Book of Chronicles, began, "The work is great, for the palace is not for man, but for the Lord." After the sermon Wesley's anthem, "O Lord my God, hear thou the prayer thy servant prayeth" was sung, but during the consecration a Master Pike sang the treble solo, "Blessed is he that commeth in the name of the Lord." The Bishop said two final prayers and after the last hymn the organist played "The Hallelujah Chorus."
At two o'clock luncheon was provided in a large tent. Mr. J. G. Branston, J.P., of Winthorpe Grange occupied the chair, having the Bishop and Mrs. Handley on his right and on his left the Rector. In addition to the clergy approximately fifty others were present, ranging from the architect to well known people from neighbouring parishes. Messrs. Clark and son of Newark provided the excellent luncheon. Many lengthy speeches followed the repast.
At evensong the sermon was given by the Rev. J. G. Tetley, vicar of Highnam, Gloucester, who took for his text, I. Kings VII, 36, "According to the proportion of everyone."
"The amount of the offertory was £2.15.0 odd, making a total of about £27 during the day." The above summary of the Consecration was taken from a leather bound presentation copy, published by the Newark Advertiser and given to Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Branston in memory of the occasion.
During the present century, the church has undergone many repairs, the earliest being the chancel, vestry and organloft roofs in 1909. The steeple was repaired in 1909, 1923-4, 1950 and 1962. In 1947 there were repairs to the roof of the nave. Electric lights were installed in 1948 and gas heating in 1950, but this method of heating damaged the organ pipes and had to be replaced by our present system. The final expenses were the complete re-roofing of the church in 1981 and repairs to the organ in 1985 and 1987.
Churches were generally sited in the centre of a village, but in Winthorpe, all three buildings have stood at the edge of the community, now cut off from the Newark approach road by the Al bypass; only pedestrian access to the village is available. The villages of Holme and Langford are also the responsibility of the Rector of Winthorpe, but despite the added work-load the number of services is the same as in years past and the community is able to worship in the church, which directs the hearts of men to the eternal things which really matter.
O most glorious God, whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain; graciously accept our memorial of the centenary of the consecration of this church of All Saints, Winthorpe, to thy service; and grant that all who shall call upon thee here may worship thee in spirit and in truth, and may in their lives show forth thy praise; through Jesus' Christ our Lord.
Miss K. E. Euston.
Further readings can be found in
All Saints' Church in Volume1.
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.
Winthorpe Church Windows in Volume 4.
Stained Glass Windows in All Saints' Church in Volume 4.
Memorials In All Saints' Church in Volume 4.
All Saints' Church Bells, Winthorpe in Volume 4.