We drove across Nottingham to Gedling. I think I came to Gedling colliery on a railtour in the early 1990s, a day exploring colliery lines which started at Newark Castle. All Hallows church is on the main road at SK617426. There is a website here. The church has a collection box by the entrance (I wonder if they’ve ever had anything), and a lot of steps. I left Julie in the car, “I’ll be quick”, I said.
I climbed the steps, admired the font outside, and looked up at the 89 foot tower and 91 foot high spire (Newark is the only one in the county that is higher). The spire was started around 1320. Apparently it has entasis, or bulge – I have to say I didn’t look that closely. The South porch is C15.
The church was buzzing with people. I was offered refreshments, there was a TV with local pictures, there were people researching family history, and I was caught by a very nice chap who knows all about the church and its history. I got the full guided tour.
They have done a good job of re-ordering, but it needs finishing. Note the coffee table on top of a tomb. Not much respect for the dead. The leaflet suggests it might be the tomb of a priest. On its top surface is carved a foliate cross in which is the face of a man and at the foot a pair of feet. It is good to know the clergy are valued. I get the impression they don’t need kneelers any more! They want to reorder this corner, which is the tower entrance, and add some decent loos. As the screen dates to 1540 (although not in this place) they are struggling to get permission. There are several hatchments too – I just photoed one of them.
The West Window has diagonal lines reminiscent of the shape of the hatchments. At the bottom there are medallions depicting scenes in Gedling at the Millennium – the colliery, the fountain and Gedling House. A stream of life-giving water flows from the fountain. The oak tree represents the passage of time, with leaves shown in the colours of all of the seasons and bare branches for winter. The branches anticipate the Cross. We have the faces of the saints, which echo two medieval stone carved heads nearby. There is a burst of energy at the Resurrection at the centre with the moon and sun on either side. The central figure shows Christ in Glory. The circle in the tracery has glass lenses around it to represent the souls of the saints of the church who have gone before us. In the centre is the Ladder of Perfection, a medieval concept originated by Walter Hilton, a monk of Thurgarton Priory in about 1380. Around the top of the window is a rainbow, and at the very top is the symbolic grey and white wing of a dove. The window was made by Andrew Johnson of Exeter in 2001.
The Chandelier has 24 candles – there used to be a second in church, but the leaflet says it was converted into a lectern – how? The War memorial and Book of Remembrance has a lot of names – more details here. The pulpit is made up of four Elizabethan wooden panels which were the ends of some of the pews replaced in 1871.
The rather impressive organ doesn’t get a mention in the guide, but there are details here. It was originally installed in the north aisle in 1874, then moved to the north side of the chancel, then built into an extension on the north side of the chancel in 1924 – bit of planning might have made life easier. A superb website – I must find out more.
The East Window is a war memorial window – note St Michael, the nurses and the army chaplain. It was installed in 1920, but my superb website doesn’t tell me who designed it.
A little piece of medieval glass was pointed out to me, and the carved grave slab is C13 – was he a priest?
“Come and see our amazing graffiti” said my guide – and we went up into the tower. Here someone, and I can’t remember what date he said it was, had painted the names of bishops and priests. A very thorough piece of work – but why?
I finished my tour with the C19 font and lovely angel on the lectern. No idea who carved it. I went back to the car to find a rather annoyed wife – it had been almost an hour. We drove back to Derby in silence, but she cheered up after she’d been fed. Church enthusiasm can be hard work!