Mansfield, Nottinghamshire – St Peter and St Paul

Since I moved to Derby I have been going to Sheffield every month to give Platelets. On Friday 1 March I drove to Belper and trained north. A return from Belper to Sheffield is £22.70, so let’s spend less (£21.90) and travel further! An easy armful, and I was back at the station by 1010. I went across to Worksop and had a very nice poached egg on toast in the station café. Not the most beautiful line to Mansfield – a few nice signal boxes and some semaphore signals.

I walked down into Mansfield, under the railway viaduct and was very pleased to find St Peter & St Paul’s church open. It has a website at https://www.stppchurch.org.uk/ – although the word ‘Mansfield’ on the front page would save some confusion. There is also an excellent history page at http://southwellchurches.nottingham.ac.uk/mansfield-st-peter/hhistory.php.

The original church was Norman, and you can find traces of this stonework in the tower, but there was a major rebuilding in the C12 – a new stone nave and chancel. Aisles were added in the C13, and in the 1291 taxation of Pope Nicholas IV the church is valued with an income of £26 13s 4d, and is noted as being annexed to the Deanship of Lincoln.

There was a major fire in 1304, and it took over a century to rebuild – by 1428 it had an income less than 10% than before. The clerestory and the spire are both probably late C15. The clock and the pews are early C19. “The 1851 religious census outlined the average attendance at the church within a 12 month period, with around 1,000 in the general congregation in the morning service, 800 in the afternoon and 1,500 in the evening and at the Sunday school there were 500 attending the morning service, 200 in the afternoon and 500 in the evening.”

By the late 1860s the church was described as “absolutely and irretrievably” ugly. A committee was form, and an architect appointed, William Smith of London. He transformed the building over the period 1870-71. The galleries were removed (thereby exposing the Norman tower arch), the roofs rebuilt, stained glass windows inserted and tracery renewed, an underfloor heating system installed in the tower, new porches built, the chancel floor tiled, “new chancel fittings in oak with stalls and parclose screens” provided and new oak doors to all the entrances into the church. In the decade before WW1 the population grew from 4,054 to 12,254, and there were several hundred children on the Sunday School list. It does make you wonder how we collapsed to the current levels of attendance – he says, trying hard not to get too depressed.

It is still quite a dark church – even with all the lights on – and I love the church guide by the door.

Lots of Victorian and early C20 glass. The dove of peace in the west tower is 1900 (just Victorian!).

In the South West is this one with Jesus blessing the children – installed in memory of Emma Pavey (1837-1889), wife of the Rev Canon Alfred Pavey, vicar of Mansfield.

This next one has no maker’s mark.

The Paul window is 1902.

One that depicts Saints Aidan, Gregory and Augustine of Canterbury was installed in 1912, commemorating James H. Blake, a mayor of Mansfield who died in 1909.

The East Window was made by Burlison & Grylls. It shows the crucifixion flanked by Our Lady and St John. It was the gift of the Duke of Portland and was installed in 1871. It has seen better days.

The Feed my Lambs window is in memory of Richard Greenhalgh, who died on 30 June 1860, and his wife Sarah who died on Christmas Day 1871. “Feed my lambs” was the text for this morning’s sermon – should have finished this blog before then!

The Transfiguration window is in memory of William and Hannah Dickons, who died in 1856 and 1871 respectively.

The Millennium Window depicts Christ above Mansfield – neither website says who designed it. Nor is there any mention of who made the statues that are dotted around.

There are lots of interesting memorials. This one says “Here lies Wendesley Blackwall, enclosed in marble; but marble incloses the body, not the soul. One part of him hath come to the earth, the other goes to heaven. He who in this life died daily, shall by death gain immortality. He whom death for these four years had assaulted, now in a moment by dying escapes from death. Blest with a beloved wife and a numerous family, with the inspiration of heaven and the dower of natural abilities – this second Job did the envious Devil tempt in divers ways, oppressing him mentally when he was weary, and sometimes torturing him in body. At length, after patiently passing through the wrath of disease, death, and the Devil, he returns victorious to the skies.”

In the south wall there is a segment-arched tomb recess with a male figure dating to c.1300. The effigy may commemorate a member of the Pierrepont family as there is a very similar effigy in the south aisle of Holme Pierrepont church. (Add it to the list of churches to visit).

The font and pulpit both date to the 1870s.

The organ is rather magnificent. The foundation of it was the organ of Clare College, Cambridge, with original pipework from the 1870s by Gray & Davison, revoiced by Harrison & Harrison in 1911. It was altered and enlarged by Noel Mander of London before installation in the south chapel in 1971. I hope they have a magnificent organist as well as a magnificent organ.

I wandered through the town and found the museum. It is small, but interesting. They had a tiny exhibition about the Mansfield to Pinxton Railway of 1819 – glad I hadn’t made a special trip to see it. Some lovely watercolours too, and post boxes were made here. I continued south on the train, changed at Nottingham, and went through Derby back to Belper. A good day out.

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